6 April 2011
Disguise and Trickery in The Taming of the Shrew
Disguise plays a fundamental role in the sixteenth century play William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The characters disguise themselves not only through physical costumes, but also by masking their feelings and emotions”. The masking of feelings is much more effective than any form of physical costume, because a costume is merely another layer of clothing. The man under the disguise is still the same man.
The first use of disguise occurs in the Induction of the play when Christopher Sly is intoxicated and a prank is pulled on him. He is dressed as a lord and others deceive him into believing he is married to a beautiful wife. However, the “wife” is really a man who is also in disguise as a woman. Shakespeare may be foreshadowing what is to happen in the later acts of the play through this trickery. The deceitfulness and trickery continues in Act III and lasts into Act IV of the play. Lucentio dresses in disguise and pretends to be Bianca’s tutor Cambio. To take his place, his servant Tranio disguises himself and pretends to be Lucentio. The real Lucentio disguises himself to look scholarly and Bianca’s father Baptista allows him into the household to begin his instructions. Later in the text a pendant is tricked into dressing as Vincentio, Lucentio’s father. Lastly, Hortensio dresses up as Litio, a Latin tutor, in an effort to gain Bianca’s love. Ironically, the Italian word “cambio” means “an exchange” according to the Oxford English Dictionary Online. Also, the Spanish version of the word literally translates to “change.” Shakespeare likely chose the name for the misleading character on purpose; however none of the characters in the play questioned his name. The largest act of disguise occurs with the character Katherina who is also called Kate. Unlike the other characters, she does not change by wearing a physical disguise. Her...