Notes on Characters from Taming of the Shrew

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Taming of the Shrew Major Characters

Katherine (Kate the shrew): Katherine (Kate the shrew) is the central character of the play, after whom it is titled. As the older and shrewish sister, Kate must wed a man before her sister Bianca, so that the sought-after Bianca is allowed to do so. Their father Baptista's decree states that she must find a suitor or else her sister may not marry. As a loud, harsh, violent, and cruel woman, Kate is 'sold' into marriage to Petruchio. Petruchio takes her away, treats her worse than she could ever imagine, and behaves even more shrew-like than she could ever dream. Petruchio's actions all lay in his ultimate plan to tame her. The way to tame a shrew is to act like one much worse. Kate is eventually tamed and obedient towards her husband by the end of the play.

Petruchio (of Verona): Petruchio is the man who agreed to woo Kate so that he may gain her large dowry and help his friend, Hortensio, marry Bianca. He becomes an even greater shrew and madman in her eyes (and of those around him) in order to tame her. Petruchio carries her away, throws her in the mud, starves her, and forces her to wear rags in order to create a dignified obedient woman. Petruchio is in constant search for a kiss from Kate, and eventually falls in love with her, for she has matched his madness in spirit and form.

Bianca: Bianca is Baptista's youngest daughter and the prize after which three men seek victory. Lucentio, Hortensio, and Gremio are all in love with her and go to desperate measures to woo her. Although she speaks little throughout the play, she is beaten by Kate, loved by many men, and taught by the disguised teachers 'Litio' and 'Cambio.' She eventually falls in love with Lucentio and marries him. And although Kate is the shrew who must be tamed, it is Bianca who ultimately disobeys her husband at the end of the play.

Lucentio: Lucentio is a young wealthy man of Pisa, who has come to Padua and fallen madly in love with Bianca. He changes clothes with his servant, Tranio, and assumes the false identity of Cambio, a schoolteacher, in order to live within the walls of Baptista's house and secretly woo Bianca. He acts as Cambio throughout most of the play, and reveals himself to his beloved. They wed and eventually tell the truth to both parents and wooers around them.

Tranio: Tranio is Lucentio's servant. Upon command, he wears Lucentio's regal clothing and assumes his identity at the same time, comically portraying a nobleman. He acts as Lucentio throughout most of the play, gaining the trust of Baptista, securing the dowry, and introducing the Pendant as his father, Vincentio of Pisa. Although the true Vincentio wants him punished for fraud, Tranio finds freedom and returns to his position as servant at the end of the play.

Baptista Minola (of Padua): Baptista Minola is the father of both Bianca and Kate. As a wealthy man of Padua, he has decreed that Bianca shall not marry until his older daughter, Kate has first wed. Since Bianca has numerous suitors and Kate none, it seems a daunting task. He agrees to Petruchio's offer of marriage and later to Lucentio's and Bianca's. At the end of the play, it is Baptista who offers a second dowry to Petruchio for taming his untamable shrewish daughter, Katherine.

Hortensio: Hortensio is a suitor to Bianca and old friend of Petruchio. He lives in Padua and offers his home to Petruchio during his stay there and courtship with Kate. He assumes the identity of a schoolteacher named Litio in order to get behind the walls of Baptista's house and woo Bianca, as well. He is the man who suggests the idea of marrying Kate to Petruchio. When Hortensio realizes that Bianca loves Lucentio, he decides to marry a widow who may turn out to be just as much as shrew as Kate.

Gremio: Gremio is another of Bianca's suitors. A wealthy elderly gentleman, Gremio tries to woo her unsuccessfully. He is involved in the trickery throughout the play.

Minor Characters

Grumio: Grumio is Petruchio' servant, who travels with him from Verona to Padua. Although he aids Petruchio in his attempt to train Kate, he also fears his madness. He works with Kate to save himself and his mistress, Katherine, from Petruchio's rage.

Widow: The Widow is a woman who enters the play towards its end. Hortensio only marries her when he realizes that he will not be able to marry Bianca. Like Bianca, she refuses to obey her husband at the end of the play.

Biondello: Biondello is one of Lucentio's servants. He warns Tranio and Lucentio of Vincentio's arrival and beckons the three wives at the end of the play to their respective husbands.

Vincentio (of Pisa): Vincentio of Pisa is Lucentio's wealthy father. He only comes to Padua at the end of the play to find his son. When he sees Tranio impersonating his son, he fears that Lucentio is dead. Tranio and the Pendant accuse him of being a madman and an impersonator and try to place him in jail. However, when all truth is revealed, Vincentio is happy to see his son wed to Baptista's daughter, Bianca.

Curtis: Curtis is another of Petruchio's servants, who discusses Petruchio and Kate's shrewish relationship with Grumio. He tells of the cold and calculating acts of cruelty they do to one another.

Petruchio's servants: Petruchio is constantly beating and screaming at his servants for doing something wrong, from cooking to picking him up from the park on time.

The Pendant: The Pendant is a man from Mantua who Lucentio and Tranio persuade to impersonate Lucentio's father, Vincentio. He assumes this noble identity and secures the marriage with Bianca from her father, Baptista. When the actual Vincentio arrives on the scene, the Pendant continues his role, calling Vincentio an impersonator and madman.

Haberdasher and Tailor: The haberdasher and tailor are two more of Petruchio's servants who are beaten and treated malevolently by their master.

Christopher Sly: Christopher Sly is the drunken man who is thrown out of a tavern at the onset of the play. A Lord finds him passed out on the street and decides to play a game with him. He is dressed up like a Lord and then forced to watch a play. He sits on the sidelines and watches the play about the taming of a shrew. His character is only written at the beginning of the play and somehow left out during the middle and end.

Hostess of Alehouse: The hostess of the alehouse is the person who throws Sly out on his bottom. She leaves him to sleep outside until he has money to pay for the beer he has drunk in her tavern.

Lord: A wealthy man returning home from a day of hunting, the Lord stumbles across the drunken Christopher Sly lying in the streets. He picks him up and plays a game of deceit with him. He tells his servants to dress him up and treat him like a Lord. He then tells his players to perform a play for him, and also has his page dress as a woman and pretend to be his long-lost wife.

Players: The players perform the show for Christopher Sly under the command of their master, the Lord.

Page: The page is commanded to wear women's clothing and assume the role of Sly's long-lost wife who has been waiting nearly fifteen years for him to awake from his slumber.

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