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Appearance vs Reality

One normally disguises in order to be someone else, whether this be in a costume during Halloween, or as a character in a play or movie. Shakespeare uses the idea of disguise in his Taming of the Shrew The minor theme of the play is appearance vs reality. Throughout the drama, things are never really as they seem. Katherine appears to be a real shrew, but it is all a cover-up for the hurt she feels. Bianca appears to be a self-sacrificing angel, but she is really a spoiled young lady who can quickly revert to shrewish behavior.

Baptista appears to the outside world as a wonderful father; in truth, he pampers Bianca, totally spoiling her, and treats Katherine badly, depriving her of the loving attention she needs and seeks. Petruchio appears to be a cruel and insensitive husband to Katherine; in reality, he cares enough for her to try and change her shrewish ways by mocking and The play is also filled with people in disguise, appearing to be something they are not. Lucentio disguises himself as Cambio, the tutor, so he can get to know Bianca.

Hortensio also disguises imself as Licio, another tutor to Bianca. Tranio disguises himself as Lucentio in order to present his master as a suitor for Bianca. The Pedant pretends to be Vincentio, the father of Lucentio. Through these appearances, the plot becomes complicated and often humorous, but Shakespeare masterfully reveals the true identity of all characters in the fourth act of the Some see Katherina’s nature as revealed rather than changed- she was always brilliant and admirable, but her qualities were hidden under her shrewishness.

Bianca, on the other hand, reveals willfulness and deceit under her mildness. Tranio reveals qualities that make him more effective than Lucentio. Is he really more of a master than a servant? Most of the play’s humour comes from the way in which characters create false realities by disguising themselves as other people, a device first introduced in the induction. Initially this is accomplished by having Christopher Sly believe he is someone he is not and then by having the main play performed for him.

By putting The Taming Of The Shrew in a ‘play within a play’ structure, Shakespeare immediately lets the audience know that the play is not real thus making all events in the play false realities. Almost all characters in the play take on identities other than their own at some point of time during the play. Sly as a king, Tranio as Lucentio, Lucentio as Cambio, Hortensio as Litio and the pedant as Vicentio are all examples of this. Another example of this is Katherine as an obedient wife.

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