A Shakespearean Summer: The Taming of the Shrew

I'm participating in A Shakespearean Summer, a challenge hosted by Liv of Liv's Book Reviews. For this challenge, you read three of Shakespeare's plays and post about them. I love Shakespeare and I'm thrilled to be participating. So for my first play, I reread The Taming of the Shrew.

Summary: The Taming of the Shrew is framed by the story of a Lord who tricks the drunken Sly into believing he is a nobleman. The Lord proceeds to have a play enacted out for Sly, and it is this play that most people recognize. The Taming of the Shrew centers around four individuals: Katherina Minola, her younger sister Bianca, Petruchio Guicciardini and Lucentio della Rovere. Bianca, with her many suitors, is frustrated as she is not permitted to marry until her elder sister does. However, with Katherina’s insolence and temper, this shrew frightens off any man who dares to get to close. In the meanwhile, Lucentio and Petruchio arrive in Padua. In order to compete with Bianca’s other suitors, Lucentio disguises himself as her tutor in order to get close to her. At the same time, Petruchio, aware of Katherina’s wealth and reputation, sets forth to marry her, return her to his home, and ultimately, tame this shrew.

My thoughts: There's something weird about reviewing a Shakepeare play (maybe it's all those analytical English lit courses), so instead I'll just say what I think about this play. This is one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies, mainly for the witty banter. Plus, in my personal opinion, Grumio (Petruchio’s servant) is one of the funniest characters in any of Shakespeare’s plays. The ending, of course, is controversial. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think it’s pretty well-known (or at least predictable) that Katherina is tamed by the end of the play. I don’t read The Taming of the Shrew as a completely anti-feminist work (trust me, if I thought that was how this play should be interpreted, I wouldn’t like it). Instead, I think the taming and Katherina’s speech can’t be taken at face value, but rather read in a Shakespeare’s-bringing-an-issue-to-the-table and Katherina’s-speech-is-tongue-in-cheek sort of way. But that’s just my take, of course. Anyway, as far as Shakespeare goes, I found this play easier to understand, and all of the plotting and messing around with identity is very entertaining.

After taking a course all about Shakespeare in the modern day, I’ve become absolutely intrigued by adaptations of Shakespeare’s works and references to Shakespeare in pop culture. So, for these Shakespearean Summer posts, I’ve decided to include other ways to find The Taming of the Shrew. Here are my faves:
  • Kiss Me Kate – This Cole Porter musical has an interior play that’s a musical version of Taming of the Shrew. Great music and lots of witty banter. You can see it on stage and there’s also an OK video version.

  • 10 Things I Hate About You – Teen romantic comedy featuring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles set in high school. Full of other Shakespeare references (including his sonnets, Macbeth, and more). I love it because it’s part of a golden age of teen movies (gotta love the 90’s). The new TV series, though, you should avoid.

  • Deliver Us From Eva – A modern, urban adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew with LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union. It’s pretty awful, but I’ll admit that sometimes I love those movies that are so bad they’re almost good (well, at least good in the entertaining because you can poke fun sense).


  1. I'm participating in the challenge too. Kind of. I haven't actually started yet... but I will! Or at least, I really want to. I need to find some Shakespeare plays though, first. I recently rewatched 10 Things I Hate About You, and it really made me want to read The Taming of the Shrew.

    - Alex

  2. 10 Things is the best teen movie of the 90s! It really was the Golden Age...

    Anyway, I've never read this one but I think now that I'm in college I should take a close look at it to see how it sits with my feminist views. I've been told by one family member that he doesn't so much tame her as teach her to be subtle.

    In the world of adaptations, there is also the ShakespeaRe-Told series from a few years back. In this version of TTS, Kate is running for Prime Minister and Petruchio is a penniless nobleman with a very special taste in clothing.

  3. Oooh, thanks for sharing the link to Shakespeare Re-told. Thanks to youtube, I've started watching TTS and can't wait to watch the other adaptations they have.