The Taming of the Shrew: Mistaken Identities

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The Taming of the Shrew: Mistaken Identities

Throughout the play "The Taming of the Shrew," William Shakespeare has utilized several ingenious techniques resulting in an effective piece of work. One of the more unique and creative methods is the use of mistaken identity. With the use of mistaken identity, Shakespeare has successfully given the play an element of humor from the beginning to the end.

The mistaken identity within the two induction scenes must have been quite humorous for the upper-class noblemen who watched the play. In Shakespeare's time, the upper-class often found their amusement in the poorer, more unfortunate lower-class. Christopher Sly was no exception. When the lord finds Sly, a drunk beggar, he immediately plots a practical joke to play on him. The lord, who is very wealthy and obviously has a lot of time on his hands decides to treat Sly as a nobleman and see how he reacts. In addition to ordering his servants to treat Sly as their master, he too pretends to be a servant. The most amusing part of this induction occurs when Sly becomes convinced that he is indeed a nobleman. When he first awakes, he thinks that everyone is playing a joke on him. After some convincing, Sly gives in and believes that he really was suffering from a long sickness. When Sly asks the page, who is pretending to be his wife to undress and join him in bed, the audience must have reacted with loud laughter knowing that his ‘wife' is actually the same sex as he. Although Sly does not understand the lifestyle of the upper-class, it is quite obvious that he is enjoying it while it lasts.

There are several cases of mistaken identity present in the subplot which involves Bianca and her suitors. One humorous situation caused by mistaken identity arises in Act I, Scene ii, when several of the characters meet each other. Here, the audience learns how gullible Gremio is when he is tricked by Lucentio into believing that Lucentio is a schoolmaster....
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