THE FARCICAL ELEMENTS IN SHAKESPEARE’S THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
A long time ago, a drunken man fell asleep outside an alehouse. This man, Christopher Sly, was discovered by a mischievous lord who took him into his home. The witty lord then convinced Sly that he was a lord, as well. The lord then put on a play for him. The play, The Taming of the Shrew, was about the two young daughters of Baptista. The youngest daughter, Bianca, wished to wed but her father, Baptista, would not allow this until his eldest daughter, Katherina, was married. Under normal circumstances, it would be easy to find a husband for Katherina with all her beauty, but all her beauty was covered by her shrewd personality. By this time Bianca’s suitors were growing very impatient, so they decide to team up and find a husband for Katherina. In jest they mentioned their plan to a friend, Petruchio, who surprisingly agreed to marry Katherina. All her beauty and wealth were enough for him. Katherina reluctantly was wed to Petruchio and she was taken to his home to be tamed. With Katherina out of the way, Bianca was now allowed to marry Lucentio, who offered her father the highest dowry for her. In the final scenes of the play, Katherina proves that she is tamed by winning an obedience contest at a dinner party. Katherina is now even more in accordance with her wifely duties than Bianca. A fare is a type of comedy based on a ridiculous situation. The Taming of the Shrew, an eminent example of a farce, is the first of three farces written by Shakespeare.
In Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew the elements of farce are exemplified in terms of character, plot, and writing style. The stereotyped characters in The Taming of the Shrew are typical of a farce. Katherina is an outstanding example of a farcical character. Katherina, although stereotyped as a boisterous shrew, can be portrayed as a person needing sympathy due to Baptista’s favoritism. The quote, “She is your treasure, she must have a husband: I must dance barefoot on her wedding day” (A. II S. 1 L. 36-37), makes it obvious that Baptista favors Bianca. In terms of plot, Shakespeare devises the plot to resemble a situation comedy. Although the subplot is more romantic, both the subplot and the main plot revolve around the principle of a favoristic father who is outwitted by his child and her lover. The representative characters, the gullible suitor accompanied by the cunning servant, add comic relief to the not so humorous subplot. In terms of writing style, Shakespeare uses three main comical means to produce his humorous effects. Katherina’s statements and Petruchio’s replies show verbal humor. ” I knew you at the first you were a moveable” ” Why, what’s a moveable?” “A joint stool.” ” Thou hast hit it; come sit on me.” (A. II S. 1 L. 218 – 221) Petruchio’s odd behaviors when disgusted by his meal shows the use of action comedy. The comedy of physical appearance is exemplified when Petruchio arrives at his wedding hours late and foolishly dressed. These three literary elements prove that Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a farce.
In conclusion, farcical elements in The Taming of the Shrew are exemplified through Shakespeare’s characters, plot, and writing style. Through the literary elements, the crude physical actions by the characters, and the slapstick humor the classification of the play as a farce would be correct.