The Taming of the Shrew

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Themes and Colors
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy Theme Icon
Theater, Performance, and Identity Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Taming of the Shrew, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Education Theme Icon

Shakespeare's comedy has many scenes of instruction, but tends to poke fun at formal education. Lucentio arrives in Padua as a young scholar ready to pursue his studies, but when Tranio tells him to study what he likes the most, he follows his heart... to the beautiful Bianca. "Cambio" and "Litio" (really Lucentio and Hortensio) are supposed to teach Bianca, but this teaching is merely an excuse to get close to her and try to woo her. While these examples show young people who are more interested in love than education, the character Tranio exemplifies another kind of learning. He is clever, socially savvy, and has learned how to act like a nobleman and trick others in order to help Lucentio and himself get out of difficult situations. While he has not had a formal education in philosophy, Latin, or music, Tranio has clearly gotten a very effective social education by learning from real-life experience.

Another example of a kind of education is Petruchio's "taming" of Katherine. As he teaches her to be a submissive wife, the play reveals some forms of education to be violent and a means of exercising power and control. His act of taming also serves to teach Hortensio by example, as Hortensio remarks several times that Petruchio has shown him the right way to handle one's wife. But is this really a lesson worth learning? If apparent education in the play is often just a pretense for something else, and the only truly successful teacher in the play (Petruchio) is violent and abusive, the play might be seen as harshly critical of formal education. The best education may be learning through life, becoming socially savvy and adept like Tranio, whose practical wit helps both him and Lucentio.

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Education ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Education appears in each scene of The Taming of the Shrew. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Education Quotes in The Taming of the Shrew

Below you will find the important quotes in The Taming of the Shrew related to the theme of Education.
Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Tranio: Faith, he is gone unto the taming school.

Bianca: The taming school? What, is there such a place?

Tranio: Ay, mistress, and Petruchio is the master,
That teacheth tricks eleven and twenty long
To tame a shrew and charm her chattering tongue.

Related Characters: Bianca (speaker), Tranio (speaker), Katherine, Petruchio
Page Number: 4.2.56-60
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene takes place back in Padua, where Lucentio (as Cambio) has been courting Bianca. Hortensio has seen the two kissing, and been convinced by Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) to cease his attempts to woo Bianca. Tranio then goes up to Bianca and Lucentio to tell them the news that Hortensio has given up.

Here they discuss Hortensio's intention to learn from Petruchio at "the taming school." Bianca questions what such a place could be, and Tranio responds that it indeed exists, and "Petruchio is the master" who teaches how to "tame a shrew and charm her chattering tongue." In this quote, taming is treated as a kind of education, and thus Petruchio is framed as a master, a husband, and also an educator who teaches women how to be good wives, and men how to be good trainers of women. And the men of the play all seem to believe that such training is necessary, that all women must be "trained" to be good obedient wives to their husbands.


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