The Taming of the Shrew
April 17, 2005
Many acclaimed scholars argue that the Induction in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is unnecessary and irrelevant to the main plot. (Bloom, 28) Shakespeare placed the induction into The Shrew for a specific dramatic purpose. The comedic tone of the play would be lost without the induction, resulting in a more literal interpretation of the play thus leaving the reader unable to distinguish the author's true intention. One cannot fully grasp the meaning of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew until one understands the importance of the tie between the induction and the main plot. Shakespeare reveals this tie with the use of theme, character ties, gender roles, and imagery.
Several themes are apparent which help tie the Induction to the plot. The most emphasized theme is that of Appearance vs. Reality. An example of this Appearance vs. Reality in the induction is the practical joke The Lord plays on Sly where Sly appears to be a Lord who has just woken up from a coma when in reality he is merely a beggar dressed in lords clothing. Shakespeare inserted this obvious example of Appearance vs. Reality so the reader would be aware of the theme later on in the play. Shakespeare uses this increased awareness of the theme in showing the reader Katherine's true feelings. On the surface it appears that Katherine is directly opposed to marry Petruchio. Katherine even says that she was " forced/ To give [her] hand opposed against [her] heart/ Unto a mad-brain rudesby, full of spleen," (III.ii.8-11) when Petruchio is late arriving to their wedding. If Katherine truly were opposed to her union with Petruchio she would have not been this upset about being jilted. This fear of being jilted stems from having fallen in love with Petruchio. This goes against the appearance of hate that Katherine puts up throughout the play against Petruchio.