February 13, 2012
Sly’s importance in the Taming of the Shrew
In William Shakespeare’s play, Taming of the Shrew, Christopher Sly is a minor character because he is only present in the induction and a small portion of act two. He compliments the other characters’ actions to develop the overall plot of the play. Although Christopher Sly is considered a minor character because he is rarely seen, Shakespeare uses Sly to prove the differences between the upper class and lower class is superficial, provide background information for the audience, and develop the main theme of disguise. Using the context and character’s actions, William Shakespeare uses Christopher Sly to form the idea that different levels of social statuses are superficial. He helps show this point by how easily characters are able to switch from one social class to the next. The first example that we see which represents this idea is Christopher Sly’s transformation after accepting he is a Lord. While Sly originally spoke in prose as a commoner, now that he believes he is a Lord Sly speaks in iambic pentameter: “’Tis much,---Servants, leave me and her alone./ Madam, undress you and come not to bed” (Induction.2.99-100). Another illustration is the true Lord’s transformation into Sly’s servant. This shows that social classes are merely set by the appearance and language of a person. A parallel example further along in the play is when Tranio takes the place of Lucentio. Tranio puts on nicer clothes so that he can play the role of Lucentio, and he also begins speaking in iambic pentameter: “Please ye we may contrive this afternoon
And quaff carouses to our mistress' health
And do as adversaries do in law,
trive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” (1.2.249-252) Christopher Sly improves Shakespeare’s central point that clothing and the language being spoken are the only characteristics that...