Baptista in The Taming of the Shrew

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Baptista Minola seeks suitable husbands for his daughters in William Shakespeare's ''The Taming of the Shrew''. His choices for his daughters rely primarily on the wealth of the suitors.

Rules of the Game

Ever created a game where you spent more time figuring out the rules than you did playing the actual game? Perhaps the other players maddened you by finding loopholes to the rules that you didn't think of?

The Shakespearean comedy The Taming of the Shrew is set up with a complicated set of rules so that comedy and subterfuge can delight audiences. Without a father's rules for his daughter's marriages, there wouldn't be a story. Let's take a closer look at the father in this play, Baptista Minola.

Baptista Minola

Baptista Minola is a rich man who lives in Padua, Italy. Baptista has two daughters, Katherine (Kate) and Bianca. Kate's bad temper drives away all potential suitors, while many of the young gentlemen of Padua want to court her sister Bianca.

Baptista is determined that both his daughters make a suitable marriage with a young man, but he sees that it will be difficult to find a man to marry the fiery Kate. As a result, Baptista decrees that he will not allow anyone to court Bianca until Kate has a suitor.

Favorite Daughter

The only clue to Kate's unpleasant behavior occurs when Baptista interacts with his daughters in Act II. The two girls are embroiled in an argument when Baptista enters the room just as Kate strikes her sister Bianca.

Without investigating the circumstances, Baptista leaps to Bianca's defense. To Kate, Baptista says, 'For shame, thou hilding of a devilish spirit,/Why dost thou wrong her that did ne'er wrong thee?/When did she cross thee with a bitter word?' Baptista clearly shows favoritism toward Bianca in this scene, and his behavior may reveal a reason for Kate's anger and unpleasantness.

Baptista obviously loves Kate, however, and he wants her marriage to be a happy one. As Baptista and Petruchio discuss the dowry, Baptista says, 'Ay, when the special thing is well obtained,/That is, her love, for that is all in all'. In other words, we have a deal as long as she falls in love with you. Still, Baptista knows his daughter well and warns Petruchio, 'Well mayst thou woo, and happy be thy speed/But be thou arm'd for some unhappy words'.


When Baptista announces that Kate must be married first, he sends Bianca into the house. She is to use this period for study. Since Padua was one of the great university towns in the Renaissance, tutors were easy to find. Baptista's support of learning for his daughters would not have been unusual there.

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