William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew uses several characters to show the meaning of disguise, and to conceal one’s true self. The production starts off with a drunken fool tricked into believing he is of nobility. Upon his sudden thrust into wealth and power, Christopher Sly also inherits a “wife”. The wife is actually a man disguised as a women, and it makes Sly come to terms of realization that he is in fact noble. Shakespeare uses Christopher Sly in order to provide the insight that Sly may not be a fool at all, but just a lonely man seeking a partner in life.
When the actual play starts, we are introduced to several other characters that are also in a similar situation including Bianca, a desired wife to many suitors; he is personified as the model wife, the girl every man wanted. As the play continues, it turns out that Bianca is not the picture perfect woman she is perceived to be, in fact she is the exact opposite. Throughout the playwright several suitors disguised themselves as things they were not such as a tutor, and a musician in order to court Bianca.
Biancas older sister Katherina is first viewed as an undesirable shrew who cannot contain her tongue and will e a spinster for life, but as her character develops she becomes the most obedient and desired wife of them all. William Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew divulges into the oppressive views of the 1590’s and how one’s true character was often hidden behind a disguise in order to appease society. The role of society played a large factor in the the play, as well as the development of the characters.
The induction, we are first introduced to a lowly drunkard, Christopher Sly, who is being manipulated into believing he is of higher class. The guards disguised Sly as a rich nobleman when e was passed out at a bar, and even had a man to pretend to be his “wife”. Throughout this theatrical performance, the element of disguise and camouflage is continued, only it gets much more involved as suitors become tutors, and musicians for the all desired Bianca. Only Bianca is not as perfect and obedient as she seemed to be, as the plot is unraveled so is her pristine image.
Her sister Katherina on the other hand was already viewed as this shrewish being, who possessed little to no marrying qualities. Her marriage to Petruchio progressed her inner-self for the better. Katherina became the epitome of the perfect wife that all the men pursued in her time. Throughout Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare exhibits the importance of the element of camouflaging one’s true self. In the induction of shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, a poor man by the name of Christopher Sly is introduced in a tavern where noblemen found him unconscious and decided to use the very first form of identity trickery on him.
The guards took Sly back to their quarters and decided to dress him up as a noblemen and convince he is such. When Sly awoke, he was dressed in fine inen and told of his new life, Sly refused to believe what he was told until Bartholomew dressed up as Sly’s “wife”. When Christopher Sly found out he had a spouse, his entire view of his newly found life changed. “Am I a lord, and have I such a lady? Or do I dream? or have I dreamed till now? l do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak,I smell sweet savors, and I feel soft things. Upon my life, I am a lord indeed.
And not a tinker, nor Christopher Sly. ” (Christopher Sly Induction Scene II). His new found perspective allowed for Sly’s character to develop, he was not ust a drunken tinker, but an actual person with feelings. Sly craved companionship, and once he was granted it, his character completely evolved. Shakespeare used Sly’s “wife” as an outlet to provide a richer insight on Sly himself, a sort of disguise. Sly was not the only character to develop during Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Katherina commonly known as “The Shrew” was also disguised for the majority of the production.
Wealthy Baptista Minola of Padua had two completely different daughter’s society heavily looked onto Baptista and his daughters. Katherina was viewed as a harsh nd undesirable woman because of her serpent’s tongue and tough exterior, “If I be waspish beware of my sting” (Act 2 scene 1). Kat’s little sister Bianca on the other hand was desired by all, and had many suitors lined up for her hand due to her perfect reputation. Their father would not let any of the suitors marry Bianca unless his eldest daughter had been wed.
The suitors formulated a plan to marry Kat off in hopes of courting Bianca, and one male, Petruchio, ended up proposing to Kat for her father’s wealth. According to Erin Furstnau Kat’s husband played a main role in the development of her character, “Petruchio onsistently plays the role of a bully in his relationship with Kat, and it is, indeed, the means which he transforms her from a quarrelsome shrew to a sweet-tempered obedient wife” (Erin Furstnau cedar crest college). Petruchio did in fact see through Kat’s harsh exterior and turn her into a desired bride.
Kat’s shrewish behavior was just an act of loneliness and disdain of her younger more desirable sister. Shakespeare portrayed Kat as a shrew in order to fully expose her manipulative sister. Much like Christopher Sly, and Katherina Minola, Shakespeare camouflaged Bianca Minola as well, but only as an innocent girl. Bianca was viewed as the picture perfect wife of her time, she was well mannered, educated, and musical. Her character was only viewed in positive light by everyone who encountered her.
Her father saw he as a perfect gem, but Kat saw through her and tried to expose but failed “Nay, now I see she is your treasure, she must have a husband” (act 2 scene 1). Baptista Minola only saw the good in his daughter, and he was blinded to her inner person. Lucentio her husband had disguised himself as her tutor “Cambio” in order to appeal to Bianca because he was not as wealthy as many of her other suitors. She had tricked him into believing that she was as golden as everyone had described her to be up until marriage “Fie, what a foolish duty you call this” (act 5 scene 2).
She began to unmask her true self, which was a shrew which is completely ironic since Kat was seen as the shrew her entire life. I suppose that’s what made this play a comedy. Clearly, William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew showed how society really disguised people and their identities in the 1590’s in order to appear perfect and well off. Many of the characters in the play were portrayed to be completely different eople than they actually were.
Christopher Sly was seen as a lowly tinker who drank to forget, yet he was actually just a lonely man who longed for a spouse. Bianca was seen as the epitome of perfection, but little did society know she was the furthest away from it unlike her sister Kat who was ridiculed her entire life but actually the most good hearted. All of these characters had very different problems and plots, but they all shared a secret. They had all built a false image of themselves and hid behind it, they all failed to embrace their inner being. I suppose that’s what makes this play a comedy.