A Kind of History: The Taming of the Shrew

  • Kristian Smidt


For a start there is the troublesome question of the relationship of The Shrew to A Shrew. That the two plays are somehow genetically connected, directly or indirectly, is evident. There are close similarities in plot and construction, especially as regards the main part of the action centring around Kate, and there is occasional close correspondence in the dialogue. But the similarities are not such as can be taken to prove a simple line of descent, and disagreement has been intense and persistent in accounting for them. There is no need here to go into the details of the debate. Brian Morris has provided a fairly full report in his Introduction to the Arden Shrew, and this has been supplemented by H. J. Oliver and Ann Thompson in the more recent Oxford and New Cambridge editions.1 And though Morris’s conclusion, that the text of A Shrew ‘is a memorial reconstruction of The Shrew’ ‘by actors with or without the assistance of a writer’,2 has not remained uncontroverted, and is not mine, it represents the view of probably a majority of contemporary scholars, including Oliver and Thompson, who think the Bad Quarto theory with some variations best explains the provenance of the play which was printed anonymously in 1594.


Inventive Servant Young Sister Memorial Reconstruction Early Play Real Father 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 4.
    Duthie, ‘The Taming of A Shrew and The Taming of the Shrew’, RES 19 (1943) 337–56;Google Scholar
  2. Houk, ‘The Evolution of The Taming of the Shrew’, PMLA LVII.4.I (1942) 1009–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 7.
    See Jan Harold Brunvand, ‘The Folktale Origin of The Taming of the Shrew’, SQ, XVII.4 (1966) [345]–59. It is true that the version of the shrew-taming story printed in The Tatier of 30 September, 1710, and summarised by Brunvand (p. 356) has four sisters, but the typical version given in the Aarne-Thompson classification (p. 345) and in Brunvand’s composite story (pp. 357–8) has three, and in Brunvand’s rendering it is the eldest who is shrewish. See also Brian Morris’s Introduction to the Arden edition, pp. 23–7. Morris, it seems to me, produces very shaky evidence to disprove the Ur-Shrew theory, and he is mistaken in asserting in two places (pp. 25, 27) that Supposes provides a two-sister model.Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    Rose, Shakespearean Design (1972) p. 38 and passim.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 27.
    In a note to his valuable article ‘Comic Structure and the Humanizing of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew’, John C. Bean lists a number of ‘revisionist’ commentaries on TS which emphasise the irony of Kate’s speech — see Lenz, Greene, Neely, eds., The Woman’s Part (1980) pp. 75–6.Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (1957) pp. 172–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kristian Smidt 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristian Smidt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OsloNorway

Personalised recommendations