Petruchio 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.

Petruchio is the man who tames the shrew in William Shakespeare's ''The Taming of the Shrew''. The comedy focuses on how Petruchio tames his fiery new wife Kate by showing her what it's like to be around a disagreeable spouse.

Who Is Petruchio?

Petruchio leaves Verona to see the world and find himself a wealthy wife in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. He arrives in Padua to visit his friend Hortensio, who tells him about the lovely and wealthy Katherine. Katherine, however, has been turning aside suitors and is reputed to have a bad temper. Petruchio believes he is up to the challenge and determines to meet her as soon as possible.

Petruchio Meets Katherine

Petruchio is confident in his ability to woo the irritable Katherine. 'For I will board her, though she chide as loud/As thunder when the clouds in autumn crack,' he says. When Petruchio meets the beautiful Katherine, whom he calls Kate, she tries to drive him away just like all the other young suitors of Verona.

Petruchio, however, sees something beneath the fiery temper she presents, and the two carry on a witty conversation. Petruchio finds himself attracted to Kate's sense of humor and intelligence. He views the taming of the shrew, Kate, as a challenge. Before he leaves, he vows to marry Katherine. 'We will have rings and things, and fine array;/And kiss me, Kate, we will be married o' Sunday,' Petruchio says.

The Taming Begins

Kate's sister Bianca assesses her sister's marriage: 'Being mad herself, she's madly mated.' Even those who know Kate best do not understand what lies beneath the pairing of Kate and Petruchio.

As soon as the two are married, Petruchio begins to refer to Kate as one of his possessions. This angers her, but she seems determined to make her marriage work. Petruchio demands that they leave before the celebration at her father's house begins, so the newlyweds set out for Petruchio's home some distance away.

When they arrive, Petruchio complains incessantly. The meat is burned, and the servants failed to meet the couple as they arrived, Petruchio says. Kate tries to smooth things over, saying the food is fine, but Petruchio rejects it and the couple goes to bed without eating.

Intentional Disagreement

Petruchio continues his complaining about even the smallest of issues in an attempt to show Kate what it is like to spend time with a disagreeable person. Petruchio makes preposterous statements, which he attempts to get Kate to agree with.

He continues to complain about the food that is served, and the two often go to bed without eating. The taming program doesn't end at bedtime, however, for Petruchio raves late into the night that the bed is poorly made and unfit to sleep in. Kate, though sleep deprived and hungry, still refuses to agree with Petruchio's ridiculous statements.

Celebration

Petruchio eventually decides it is time to visit Kate's father to celebrate the marriage. He continues to insist that Kate agree with every statement he utters, no matter how outlandish. When she refuses, he stops. Petruchio refuses to continue on the journey until Kate gives in.

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