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Act V, Scene 2
All the characters, except those from the induction, are brought together at a marriage banquet in Lucentio’s house. The three newlywed couples; Lucentio and Bianca, Hortensio and the widow, Petruchio and Kate, are seated at the table. Everyone is doubtful whether Petruchio has truly tamed Kate. They make jokes about the couple until Petruchio has had his fill. He then bets that he has the most obedient wife of the three new brides. The others scoff at such a thought.
The women are sent into the other room; in turn, each wife is called by her husband. Bianca tells Lucentio that she cannot come, for she is too busy. The widow asks Hortensio to come to her if he wants something. Only Kate obeys her husband, to everyone’s amazement. At Petruchio’s command, she brings the other two wives and lectures them on the duties of an obedient wife. The rest agree that Petruchio has indeed done a superb job of taming the shrew.
This anticlimactic scene links the main plot and the subplot together as all of the characters meet at the home of Lucentio for a marriage banquet. The three newly married couples are highlighted. Bianca shows that she is selfish and shrewish. She is too busy to come when her husband calls; she also snaps at Lucentio and calls him a fool. In a similar manner, the Widow does not respond to Hortensio. Only Katherine is obedient to her husband, making her stand high above the other wives. At Petruchio’s suggestion, she gently educates the other women on their duties toward their husbands, proving once and for all that she is no longer the expected shrew.
The scene points out the moral of the play, popular in Elizabethan times. For there to be a harmonious marriage, a couple must respect one another. The husband must be the lord and master of the house, and the wife must be obedient to his authority. In return, the husband must protect his wife and provide a good home. Although the moral is serious in nature, it is developed in a humorous way that provides great entertainment. In The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare has written a successful comedy filled with lively characters, comic situations, and a well-written plot and subplot; as always, he has proven his mastery of the art of drama.