Podcast 11: The Taming of the Shrew Intro and Overview

This week’s podcast includes an introduction to The Taming of the Shrew, a not-so brief synopsis, a discussion of the Induction (and thereby the play’s versions), and a review of this week’s blog topics.  Also, our monthly casting contest.
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Poetry/Verse (I’m not so sure about this play, Part Three — The Not-So Thrilling Conclusion)

A couple of days back, when we were discussing the Induction of The Taming of the Shrew, I used the term Bard-olaters, saying it was someone who was such a Bard-ophile that he cannot believe that Shakespeare can do wrong (or poorly).
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Rhyming (I’m not so sure about this play, Part Two)

In The Taming of the Shrew, nearly 4% of all lines (nearly 5% of poetic lines) are part of rhyming couplets.  Now this is MUCH less than our first comedy (The Comedy of Errors which had over 20% rhymed couplets of all lines, 23% of all poetic lines), and while it’s expected to have more rhymed lines than our first tragedy (Titus Andronicus), it’s surprising that it has so fewer more rhyming couplets than last month’s play (which had just under 2.5% of both total and poetic lines).
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Prose (I’m not so sure about this play, Part One)

There’s quite a bit of prose in The Taming of the Shrew… almost 21% of the play (even if you removed the Sly framing device, the percentage of prose goes down only .14%, with the total still rounded up to 21%).  This is nearly twice as much prose as was employed in The Comedy of Errors.
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Nay, come again, good Kate, I am a gentleman: Scansion for Performance

OK, here’s a preview… later this month, we’re going to talk in depth about the most popular scene in The Taming of the Shrew, the wooing scene (and probably one of the two most important, neck and neck with the last speech by Kate).
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Source of Confusion, Source of Controversy

Like Titus Andronicus last month, there is no obvious direct source for The Taming of the Shrew‘s main plot, or for its framing device (the Christopher Sly plotline) for that matter.  The shrewish woman is an archetype in literature: when Petruchio references both Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale and Gower’s Cofessio Amantis, as well as “Socrates’ Xanthippe” (I.ii.68 and I.ii.70, respectively), we see how the concept of the “curst and shrewd” (I.ii.69) wife has come down through the ages in literature.  The framing device, a simple story-within-a-story, is a time-honored trope, dating back to ancient Sanskrit texts (Panchatantra) and the Arabian Nights… though the first dramatic usage is from The Spanish Tragedy (see last month’s discussion of the sources for Titus).  The concept of the audience for that nested story being a man fooled into thinking he’s a lord . . . well, that too is a well-worn tradition (again, used in Arabian Nights [though that, interestingly, is a work that wasn’t available to Shakespeare, as it wouldn’t be translated into English until nearly a century and a half later]).  So while both elements are not original, there’s no direct lineage for these particular usages by Shakespeare.
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Act Four: Taming and Gaming

Act Four of The Taming of the Shrew is the longest in the play (unless you count the 277-line “Induction” as part of Act One), with much ground to cover.  So let’s get to it.
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An Apology: This Podcast Interrupted by…

Every week we have a podcast (on Sunday).

This Sunday we won’t.  It may happen on Monday.  Or it may not happen at all this week.

Why?
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