Analysis of the theme of Acting in The Taming of the Shrew.
In William Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew, the theme of acting is apparent throughout the course of the play. No one in the play seems to be what he or she appears to be. At least eight characters in the play appear to be in some sort of disguise, each playing a role and pretending to be something or someone they are not. Because of this acting, the plot becomes complicated and humorous from time to time. Through this theme, Shakespeare has made The Taming of the Shrew a play within a play.
In the Induction at the beginning of the play, a Lord plays a joke on a drunken beggar, Christopher Sly. The Lord's servants are to treat Sly as if he was royalty, and because of this the beggar actually begins to believe that he is a Lord. "Upon my life, I am a lord indeed." (Ind., ii, 72) In Act II of the play, more examples of obvious role-play can be found. Lucentio disguises himself as Cambio, the tutor, so that he may become closer to Bianca in hopes of wooing her. Therefore, Tranio disguises himself as Lucentio in order to present himself (as his master) as a suitor for Bianca. One of Lucentio's competitors for Bianca's love, Hortensio, disguises himself as Licio, another tutor, so that he may be near Bianca as well. When Baptista requires verification of Lucentio's wealth, the Pedant comes forward pretending to be Vincentio, father of Lucentio, to assist his son in obtaining Bianca's love. Almost all characters in the play take on identities that are not their own at some point during the play. Sly as a Lord, Tranio as Lucentio, Lucentio as .
Cambio, Hortensio as Licio, and the Pedant as Vincentio are all examples of this role-play. However, the most effective example of subtle role-playing is seen through Bianca and Kate.
In the beginning of the play Kate appears rude, cruel, and terrifying to all of the characters.