From the Induction to Kate’s final speech, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a play rife with controversy for our post-modern times. These controversies range from the comic nature of the spousal abuse, which Petruchio inflicts on Kate, to his abuse of servants, to whether Kate’s final speech is feminist or anti-feminist. This study discusses one structural and performance controversy of the play: What happens to the Induction characters after they “disappear” from the play and is there a need to bring them back on stage through a pirated epilogue?
Building on current literary and performance criticism, I argue that The Taming of the Shrew is structurally complete. I go on to offer a performance solution that demonstrates thematic parallels that were obvious to early modern audiences but escape post-modern audiences. The Induction characters may well have disappeared in the original early modern performances but cutting them today does a disservice to the historical message of the play about the parallels between wife and servant taming in the early modern family. My performance solution creates a double spectacle, emphasizing themes of taming, impersonation, and subjugation while still bringing out the humor of the play and creating a way for our audiences to glimpse what early modern audiences saw in Shakespeare’s original production.
Nathaniel Fuller, ’04 Caledonia, NY
Majors: Secondary Education, English
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva