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MonkeyNotes-The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
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Act IV, Scene 3

Kate begs Grumio for some food. The servant teases his new mistress by imitating Petruchio and finding fault with all the food that might be a possibility to serve her. Petruchio and Hortensio enter with the meat that Petruchio has prepared for her; he says, however, that she can only have it if she thanks him. Her hunger swallows her pride and she states her gratitude. They all sit down to eat. During dinner, Petruchio informs his wife of his plan to clothe her with finery for a trip back to Padua to visit her father. He soon calls a tailor and a haberdasher, who arrive with their wares. Kate begins to admire the clothing, but Petruchio dismisses the cap that Kate wants, criticizes the haberdasher, and sends him away. He turns to the tailor and says that the dress is also no good; however, Kate likes and wants the dress. Petruchio ignores his wife and sends the tailor away. Petruchio tells Kate that she must travel in her same, old clothes, for nothing new is good enough for her. He then tells her the plans for the trip, and she disagrees. Petruchio then says that they will not go to Padua at all unless Katherine agrees with him over the issue of the time.


Notes

Like a snake charmer extracting venom from a submissive snake, Petruchio tries to intimidate Katherine at every opportunity. In spite of his efforts, she is not a totally reformed woman at this point. She strikes Grumio when he refuses to bring her food and is angry that her husband proudly brings in a meal that he has cooked himself. Petruchio, however, is unrelenting. He refuses to let the starving Kate take a bite of the meal until she humbly thanks him for the food. She complies with his request, not out of submission, but out of hunger. Petruchio then teases her with new clothing. The tailor and haberdasher present the most stylish of clothing, which Katherine really likes, but her husband disapproves of everything and sends the men away with their wares. He tells his wife, "When you are gentle, you shall have one too, and not till then." Katherine strikes back in her typical shrewish manner. Petruchio tells her that he knows that some good lives beneath her ill temper.

Humor abounds in the witty verbal exchanges between Petruchio and Katherine and between Grumio and his master. Therein lies Shakespeare’s skill in creating a masterful comedy.

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