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Induction In Taming Of The Shrew

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Importance of the Induction in

The Taming of the Shrew

British Literature

April 17, 2005

Many acclaimed scholars argue that the Induction in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is unnecessary and irrelevant to the main plot. (Bloom, 28) Shakespeare placed the induction into The Shrew for a specific dramatic purpose. The comedic tone of the play would be lost without the induction, resulting in a more literal interpretation of the play thus leaving the reader unable to distinguish the author's true intention. One cannot fully grasp the meaning of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew until one understands the importance of the tie between the induction and the main plot. Shakespeare reveals this tie with the use of theme, character ties, gender roles, and imagery.

Several themes are apparent which help tie the Induction to the plot. The most emphasized theme is that of Appearance vs. Reality. An example of this Appearance vs. Reality in the induction is the practical joke The Lord plays on Sly where Sly appears to be a Lord who has just woken up from a coma when in reality he is merely a beggar dressed in lords clothing. Shakespeare inserted this obvious example of Appearance vs. Reality so the reader would be aware of the theme later on in the play. Shakespeare uses this increased awareness of the theme in showing the reader Katherine's true feelings. On the surface it appears that Katherine is directly opposed to marry Petruchio. Katherine even says that she was "... forced/ To give [her] hand opposed against [her] heart/ Unto a mad-brain rudesby, full of spleen," (III.ii.8-11) when Petruchio is late arriving to their wedding. If Katherine truly were opposed to her union with Petruchio she would have not been this upset about being jilted. This fear of being jilted stems from having fallen in love with Petruchio. This goes against the appearance of hate that Katherine puts up throughout the play against Petruchio.

Another link between the Induction and the main plot is the outstanding similarities between the characters in each part. An example of this tie is the parallel of The Lord in the induction to Petruchio in the main plot. In the Induction The Lord proves himself to be a clever manipulator treating the passed out beggar as a plaything, much as the way Petruchio treats Katherine. In the process of "taming" Katherine, Petruchio resorts to somewhat inhuman and cruel treatment. An example of this treatment arises in act four when Petruchio sends Katherine off to bed without having anything to eat. After he does this Petruchio begins his most famous soliloquy of the play.

"Thus have I politicly begun my reign,/ And 'tis my hope to end successfully./ My falcon now is sharp and passing empty,/ And till she stoop she must not be full gorged,/ For then she never looks upon her lure./ Another way I have to man my haggard,/ To make her come and and know her keeper's call,/ That is, to watch her as we watch these kites/ That bate and beat and will not be obedient./ She eat no meat today, nor none shall eat./ Last night she slept not nor, tonight she shall not./ As with the meat, some undeserved fault/ I'll find about the making of the bed,/ And here I'll fling the pillow, there the bolster,/ This way the coverlet, another way the sheets./ Ay, and amid this hurly I intend/ That all is done in reverent care of her,/ And in conclusion she shall watch all night./ And if she chance to nod I'll rail and brawl/ And with the clamor keep her still awake./ This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,/ And thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humor./ He that knows better how to tame a shrew,/ Now let him speak- 'tis charity to show." (IV.ii.182-205)

This dialogue shows the extent Petruchio will go to tame Katherine. Throughout the speech he consistently refers to Katherine as an untrained hawk and how he will break her by using hunger and sleep deprivation to cure her shrewness. This dehumanizing attitude towards Katherine is very similar to The Lord's approach to Sly (Campbell 846). The Lord shows no sympathy towards the passed out drunk. His air is that of a boy who is bored with his current playthings and seeks another. By finding Sly The Lord had found a new pet and source of amusement, the same way Petruchio sees Katherine.

The importance of gender roles does not falter at all for the duration of the play. Shakespeare sets the tone for the way the reader should view the roles of the two sexes in the Induction using



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