Notes on Taming of the Shrew Themes

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Taming of the Shrew Topic Tracking: Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity 1: The Lord intends to use the drunkard, Christopher Sly as a ploy in his game of mistaken identity. He dresses him up in wealthy attire and tells his attendants and players to call him a Lord. He also has his page dress up as a woman and deceitfully assume the identity of Sly's long lost wife. After much prodding, Sly eventually believes that he is, in fact, a wealthy lord who has been asleep for nearly fifteen years and hopes to hold onto his wife.

Mistaken Identity 2: For the first time in public, Tranio and Lucentio exchange identities...almost. They tell Lucentio's servant, Biondello, that Tranio will assume the identity of Lucentio, and Lucentio must assume the identity of an unknown person. The identity exchanging has only just begun with this short change of clothing.

Mistaken Identity 3: Tranio's first impersonation of Lucentio brings nothing but laughter, for his identity as a nobleman is difficult to believe. While he impersonates his master, he also draws attention to himself, for he seems far from noble while dressed in Lucentio's brightly colored clothing.

Mistaken Identity 4: When the group of suitors introduces itself to Baptista, most of them are assuming mistaken identities. Tranio is dressed as Lucentio and presents the real Lucentio, who is dressed as the schoolteacher, Cambio. Petruchio is himself, but offers his friend Hortensio, who is dressed as the schoolteacher Litio. Baptista openly accepts Cambio and Litio into his house. However, he has difficulty accepting Tranio as a nobleman, for Tranio is truly a commoner. Tranio cannot assume the identity of a wealthy man without struggling and behaving foolishly.

Mistaken Identity 5: As Petruchio first attempts to woo Kate, he implies that her identity as a shrew is somewhat mistaken. She appears (in his eyes) to be beautiful and bonny. He claims all of this in order to win her attention and admiration for their future marriage.

Mistaken Identity 6: Tranio takes his mistaken identity as Lucentio to extremes. He discusses his dower for Bianca, if he were to win her hand in marriage. He talks of riches that may or may not exist, and leaves out a stipulation in the dower as to death. Because he is impersonating Lucentio, his identity as the nobleman is forced and comical.

Mistaken Identity 7: Lucentio reveals his identity to Bianca. He has been intentionally mistaken as the schoolteacher, Cambio. Now that he has gotten into Baptista's house and been able to woo Bianca, he does not want his true identity mistaken anymore in front of Bianca.

Mistaken Identity 8: When Petruchio arrives at Baptista's house dressed in such horrendous attire, everyone is shocked. His identity is not who he claims to be; it is attributable to a madman. Petruchio claims that his attire is not important. Kate is marrying his identity, not his attire. So, whatever everyone mistakes him to be by his attire and behavior alone, they should know that he is Petruchio of Verona.

Mistaken Identity 9: Everyone is dressed as another person, confusing identities to each other and the audience. Lucentio is dressed as Cambio and intentionally mistaken for a schoolteacher. Hortensio is dressed as Titio and intentionally mistaken for another schoolteacher. Tranio is dressed as Lucentio and intentionally mistaken for his master Lucentio. Hortensio reveals himself to Tranio and leaves, as soon as he discovers the real Lucentio courting Bianca.

Mistaken Identity 10: When the real Vincentio visits Hortensio's house, he sees the Pendant above. The Pendant holds his place as Vincentio, causing for true mistaken identity. Vincentio is believed to be a madman, while he is the true nobleman of Pisa. And the poor Pendant is intentionally mistaken to be called Vincentio. The mistaken identity in the scene causes Biondello to fear that the entire scam is over and that they will all be jailed for their deceitful actions.

Mistaken Identity 11: When Kate comes to the table at the conclusion of the play, it is almost as if someone has mistaken the shrew's identity with a new woman. She is loyal, obedient, and poised. She does what she is told and is content with her actions. Although it is the same Kate who is violent at the onset of the play, this new identity is not mistaken - it is changed.

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