Taming of the Shrew Short Summary and What is the main idea of The Taming of the Shrew?


Taming of the Shrew book, theme, short summary, analysis and sparknotes. Info about the Taming of the Shrew book.

Taming of the Shrew

Taming of the Shrew; is a comedy by William Shakespeare, printed in the Folio of 1623. The date and circumstances of its composition are controversial. The controversy centers on the play’s relationship- to a similar but anonymous play, The Taming of a Shrew, published in 1594. Some scholars hold that A Shrew is the basis of The Shrew, others that both derive from a common source, and still others that A Shrew is a reconstruction of The Shrew. Depending upon which case they favor, authorities date the play some time between 1592 and 1596. Despite the stylistic unevenness of The Taming of the Shrew, no really sound evidence has been offered that it is not entirely by Shakespeare.

The story of The Taming of the Shrew has three sections. The plot of the drunkard persuaded of his nobility, which appeared as early as the Arabian Nights, is abandoned by Shakespeare in the first act. The other two plots, which are closely interwoven, start as a play presented before the drunken countryman Christopher Sly but become the central action. The more interesting one, about the subduing of a termagant, is found in English balladry. The other—adapted from George Gascoigne’s The Supposes (1556), a prose translation of Ludovico Ariosto’s I suppositi (1509)—deals with the wooing of the shrew’s sister by a suitor who changes identity with his servant.

The play is less attractive for its poetry than for its vigor. The courtship of the gentle Bianca is colorless, and the characters involved in this section of the play are conventional. It is far otherwise with Katharina and Petruchio, the participants in the battle of the sexes. To see the play as a mere breaking of a woman’s will is a mistake. The taming of the shrew is not primarily a physical taming. By behaving outrageously on the pretense of being kind to his bride, Petruchio makes Kate see herself as others see her, recognize the absurdity of her ill-tempered obstinacy, and thus achieve a basis for social and marital harmony. The corrective is laughter.


This laughter has been popular with audiences. The play was reprinted in 1631 and acted at court in 1633. John Fletcher wrote a sequel. The Woman’s Prize: or, The Tamer Tamed (printed in 1647). Shakespeare’s play was adapted in the Restoration and 18th century and condensed by David Garrick in Catherine and Petruchio (1754). The true version returned in the 19th century, the most notable revival being Augustin Daly’s in 1887 with John Drew and Ada Rehan. Among the many performances since, those by Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in 1935-1936 were especially spirited. Cole Porter wrote the music and Sam and Bella Spewack the book for Kiss Me, Kate, a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, which was a Broadway success in 1948.

What is the main idea of The Taming of the Shrew?

The main idea of William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew” is the courtship and marriage of a headstrong and independent woman, Katherine, who is “tamed” by her husband, Petruchio. The play explores gender roles, power dynamics, and social expectations in Elizabethan England, with Petruchio using various methods to break Katherine’s spirit and make her a submissive wife. However, the play also contains comedic elements, with witty dialogue and farcical situations that make it a popular and enduring work of literature.

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