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may have been suggested by a passage in an old play, The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London, printed 1590 (Hazlitt's Dodsley's Old Play, VI. 500).
The Duration of Action. According to Mr. Daniel's analysis, five or six days are represented on the stage, with intervals, which amount to something under a fortnight.
Day 1. Act I. Day 2. Act II. Interval of a day or two. Petruchio proposes to go to Venice to buy apparel. Day 3. Act III. i. Saturday, eve of the wedding Day 4. Act III. ii.; Act IV. i. Sunday, the wedding-day. Interval (?). Day 5. Act IV. ii. Interval (?). Day 6. Act IV. iii., iv., v., and Act V. (? The second Sunday).
Possibly Acts I. and II. should be considered as one day. “ Time, however,” adds Mr. Daniel, “ in this play is a very slippery element, difficult to fix in any completely consistent scheme. In the old play the whole story is knit up in the course of two days.” (Trans. of New Shakespeare Society, 1877-79, P. 168).
The Tamer Tamed. Fletcher attempted a companion picture to the ‘Taming of the Shrew' in his ‘Woman's Prize, or the Tamer T amed' (written before 1633); in this play we are introduced to our old friend Petruchio again, but Katharina is dead and 'eke her patience, and in her place we are introduced to her successor, Maria, the 'masculine' daughter of Petronius, who tries a procéss of taming on her own account, aided by faithful allies, to wit, her sister Livia, her cousin and Commander-inchief’ Bianca, “ city wives,' ' county wives,' &c. In the end Petruchio confesses himself, in more senses than one, ‘born again,' and the Epilogue sums up as follows :
'The Tamer's Tamed; but so, as nor the men
Can find one just cause to complain of, when
Nor can the women from this precedent
Induction. A tinker named Christopher Sly is found in a drunken stupor by a lord, who, to make sport, causes him to be conveyed to the castle, clothed in the costliest apparel and placed in the richest bed. Upon awakening Sly finds himself surrounded by attendants who persuade him that he is a nobleman who for many years has been mentally deluded. And in his honour the following play is presented :
I. Baptista, a rich gentleman of Padua, has two daughters, Katharina and Bianca. The latter, because of her gentleness and charm, has numerous admirers. But her father refuses to listen to any of them until her elder sister is married, which event seems doubtful on account of Katharina's shrewish disposition. The several lovers of Bianca are in despair until the advent of a peculiar Veronese gentleman, Petruchio, whose hasty temperament seems well suited to the shrew.
Among Bianca's admirers is Lucentio, a native of Pisa, who decides to disguise himself and engage with Baptista as tutor for Bianca, giving over his proper name and rank to Tranio, his servant.
II. Tranio sues as Lucentio for Bianca's hand, while the real Lucentio obtains the position as tutor, intending thus to try to win her covertly. In the meantime, Petruchio obtains Baptista's willing consent to his suit for Katharina, and woos her in singular fashion, overriding
all her harshness and disdain with the abrupt declaration that they shall be married on the next Sunday.
III. At the appointed time the wedding-party assembles without the bridegroom. But he appears after an interval clad in most incongruous apparel, which he persists in wearing to the church—despite the open disapproval of the party-declaring: “To me she's married, not unto my clothes." Immediately after the ceremony he departs for home with Katharina, not even tarrying for the wedding-feast, although his bride first entreats and then storms.
IV. At his country-house Petruchio treats Katharina rigorously, while pretending to be assiduous in his care of her. She gets very little to eat, because he claims that the food is not cooked properly; and the new garments which have been ordered for her jected, although she is very well pleased with them. He is so harsh with the servants and so dogmatic in his statements, that his wife forgets her own arbitrary disposition in the desire to keep his temper even. Finally she becomes quite submissive to his will.
In Padua the fictitious Lucentio obtains Baptista's consent to his suit for Bianca, while the real Lucentio succeeds in winning the lady. The presence of Lucentio's 'father becomes riecessary, and Tranio presses an aged . schoolmaster into service to play this part.
V. At this juncture the real father arrives and encounters Tranio in his master's garments. Tranio must needs face it out to gain time for Lucentio, and is on the point of causing the arrest of the father, when Lucentio and Bianca arrive as man and wife. Mutual explanations follow, and the entire party gather at a banquet at Lucentio's home in Padua. Katharina and Petruchio are among the guests. After the feast is over and the ladies have withdrawn into another room, the gentlemen discuss obedience as a wifely virtue, and the opinion is expressed that Petruchio's wife must be "the veriest shrew of all.” A wager is made, and to the surprise of all,
Katharina shows herself to be more gentle and yielding than Bianca or another bride there present.
McSPADDEN: Shakespearian Synopses.
When the play commences, Katharina appears instated in the character of a shrew, rough, peevish, petulant, irritable, and therefore, however she obtained the character, in a false position which aggravates itself. Her younger and milder mannered sister is beset with suitors, and upon her she vents her petulance in terms which show how far her continued single state reacts upon the testiness that already deprives her of suitors, and the mischief reproduces itself. To such a state of things Petruchio was born to put an end; there is thus much sympathy between the two at starting, that well provided married state is their common object with secondary interest in the individual to be chosen. The simple difficulty to be apprehended of cross purposes, and repulsion at first encounter, is happily obviated by positive determination to take and admit of nothing other than as desired; and accordingly, after a scene of the strangest pertinacity, in which Petruchio mingles a fair proportion of flattery with banter and defiance, he makes such progress that my lady takes refuge in the sulks, and with protesting grumblings and compliant gestures she gives her hand when he asks for it for the ceremonious betrothal, nay without protesting or resisting so far gives a parting kiss when he asks it that he takes it without ceremony and then she withdraws silent, but by that very token not ill satisfied.
We may guess how far the pair are suited when we find her still more disappointed than piqued when he is unheard of on the day fixed for marriage. He arrives at