The Taming of the Shrew

Katherine Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Katherine is the "shrew" of the play's title. Because she is stubborn, is sometimes ill-mannered, and does not allow herself to be ordered around by men, she is constantly insulted, made fun of, and otherwise denigrated by practically all the other characters in the play. After she marries Petruchio, Petruchio tries to "tame" her, and he forces her into obedience by withholding food from her and not letting her sleep. Toward the end of the play, Katherine seems to change completely and become utterly obedient and subservient to Petruchio. Her long, final speech in which she details a wife's duties to her husband is often particularly troubling to modern readers uncomfortable with her sudden acceptance of sexism. However, Katherine's sincerity in this transformation is debatable, and one could argue (as some productions of the play present it) that Katherine is merely pretending to submit to Petruchio and that her final speech is so over the top that it becomes sarcastic and a parody of wifely obedience.

Katherine Quotes in The Taming of the Shrew

The The Taming of the Shrew quotes below are all either spoken by Katherine or refer to Katherine. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Taming of the Shrew published in 2004.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

I can, Petruchio, help thee to a wife
With wealth enough, and young and beauteous,
Brought up as best becomes a gentlewoman.
Her only fault, and that is faults enough,
Is that she is intolerable curst,
And shrewd and forward, so beyond all measure
That, were my state far worser than it is,
I would not wed her for a mine of gold.

Related Characters: Hortensio (speaker), Katherine, Petruchio
Page Number: 1.2.86-93
Explanation and Analysis:

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But will you woo this wildcat?

Related Characters: Gremio (speaker), Katherine, Petruchio
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 2.1.198
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Nay, now I see
She [Bianca] is your [Baptista's] treasure, she must have a husband,
I must dance barefoot on her wedding day
And, for your love to her, lead apes in hell.
Talk not to me. I will go sit and weep
Till I can find occasion of revenge.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker), Baptista Minola, Bianca
Page Number: 2.1.34-39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Then tell me, if I get your daughter's love,
What dowry shall I have with her to wife?

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Baptista Minola, Katherine
Page Number: 2.1.126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Say that she [Katherine] rail, why then I'll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale.
Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morning roses newly washed with dew.
Say she be mute and will not speak a word,
Then I'll commend her volubility
And say she uttereth piercing eloquence.
If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks
As though she bid me stay by her a week.
If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day
When I shall ask the banns, and when be married.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 2.1.178-188
Explanation and Analysis:

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Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented
That you shall be my wife, your dowry ‘greed on,
And will you, nill you, I will marry you.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Baptista Minola, Katherine
Page Number: 2.1.284-286
Explanation and Analysis:

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For I am he born to tame you, Kate,
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 2.1.291-293
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

No shame but mine. I must, forsooth, be forced
To give my hand, opposed against my heart,
Unto a mad-brain rudesby, full of spleen,
Who wooed in haste and means to wed at leisure.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker), Petruchio
Page Number: 3.2.8-11
Explanation and Analysis:

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To me she's married, not unto my clothes.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 3.2.119
Explanation and Analysis:

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I see a woman may be made a fool
If she had not a spirit to resist.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.226-227
Explanation and Analysis:

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I will be master of what is mine own.
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 3.2.235-238
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

Thus have I politicly begun my reign,
And ‘tis my hope to end successfully.
My falcon now is sharp and passing empty,
And, till she stoop, she must not be full-gorged,
For then she never looks upon her lure.
Another way I have to man my haggard,
To make her come and know her keeper's call.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 4.1.188-194
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Well, come, my Kate, we will unto your father's.
Even in these honest mean habiliments.
Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor,
For ‘tis the mind that makes the body rich,
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
So honor peereth in the meanest habit.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 4.3.175-180
Explanation and Analysis:

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It shall be what o'clock I say it is.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine
Page Number: 4.3.202
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 5 Quotes

Now, by my mother's son, and that's myself,
It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
Or e'er I journey to your father's house.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Baptista Minola, Katherine
Page Number: 4.5.7-9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
And be it moon, or sun, or what you please.
And if you please to call it a rush candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker), Petruchio
Page Number: 4.5.14-17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

Let's each one send unto his wife,
And he whose wife is most obedient
To come at first when he doth send for her
Shall win the wager which we will propose.

Related Characters: Petruchio (speaker), Katherine, Bianca, Petruchio, Hortensio, Widow
Page Number: 5.2.68-71
Explanation and Analysis:

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Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker), Petruchio
Page Number: 5.2.162-163
Explanation and Analysis:

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I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.

Related Characters: Katherine (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.177-180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Now, go thy ways, thou hast tamed a curst shrew.

Related Characters: Hortensio (speaker), Katherine, Petruchio
Page Number: 5.2.205
Explanation and Analysis:

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Katherine Character Timeline in The Taming of the Shrew

The timeline below shows where the character Katherine appears in The Taming of the Shrew. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
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Baptista enters with his two daughters, Katherine and Bianca. Two men, Gremio and Hortensio, enter as well, seeking to woo Bianca. Baptista... (full context)
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...Bianca to leave and go inside, and she is polite and deferential, in contrast to Katherine's rudeness. Gremio and Hortensio protest Baptista's condition for the marriage of Bianca, but he says... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...poetry. He asks Gremio and Hortensio if they know of any teachers, then exits, telling Katherine to stay. Katherine is offended at being told what to do, and leaves. (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
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Gremio insults Katherine, then says that he would gladly find a teacher for Bianca. Hortensio agrees, but also... (full context)
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...desperate to win her heart. Tranio asks if Lucentio also heard about the arrangement with Katherine, and saw Bianca's rude, boisterous sister, but Lucentio speaks only of Bianca's beauty. Tranio fills... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...that all he cares about is finding a wealthy wife, and is eager to meet Katherine. He adds that Baptista knew his father and wants to go see Katherine immediately. Grumio... (full context)
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...music. He then introduces Gremio to Petruchio, who he says "Will undertake to woo curst Katherine," (i.2.185) for her dowry. Gremio asks if Petruchio is aware of Katherine's faults and wonders... (full context)
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...he wants as his wife, is married. Tranio agrees with Hortensio that Petruchio's pursuit of Katherine is in all their best interest. Tranio encourages all the others to eat and drink... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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In Baptista's house, Katherine is teasing Bianca. She has Bianca's hands tied and asks her which of her suitors... (full context)
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Baptista enters and is upset to see Katherine abusing Bianca. He unties Bianca's hands and sends her off to sew. He chastises Katherine,... (full context)
Theater, Performance, and Identity Theme Icon
...as Lucentio) enters with Biondello. Petruchio introduces himself and tells Baptista he is interested in Katherine. He introduces "Litio" (really Hortensio) as a teacher of math and music, who can instruct... (full context)
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Petruchio discusses the dowry for Katherine and assures Baptista that he is strong enough to make Katherine yield to him. He... (full context)
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...pale and with an injury on his head. He reveals that he tried to teach Katherine how to play the lute, but she got frustrated and broke the lute over his... (full context)
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Alone on-stage, waiting for Katherine, Petruchio plans how he will woo her. Regardless of what she says, he plans to... (full context)
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Katherine strikes Petruchio and he threatens to "cuff" her if she does so again. The two... (full context)
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Baptista enters with Gremio and Tranio (disguised as Lucentio). Katherine complains to her father that he has wed her to a lunatic. Petruchio says that... (full context)
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Baptista says that he will give Bianca to Lucentio on the Sunday after Katherine and Petruchio's wedding, provided that Lucentio's father guarantees Lucentio's inheritance. Otherwise, Bianca will be married... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...[Hortensio] for thy lord," (iii.1.78). A servant interrupts and tells Bianca that she must help Katherine prepare for her wedding. Bianca, the servant, and Lucentio leave. Hortensio notes that Cambio (really... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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It is Katherine and Petruchio's wedding day, and Baptista, Gremio, Katherine, Bianca, Tranio (disguised as Lucentio), and Lucentio... (full context)
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...finally arrive. Petruchio acts as if nothing is strange about his attire, and asks where Katherine is. Baptista is offended by Petruchio's lateness and ridiculous clothing. He and Tranio tell Petruchio... (full context)
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Gremio enters, having just come from the church where Katherine and Petruchio were wed. He calls Petruchio "a devil, a devil, a very fiend," (iii.2.157).... (full context)
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Petruchio enters, along with Katherine. Bianca, Baptista, Hortensio, and Grumio. Petruchio announces that he will leave now, skipping the traditional... (full context)
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Katherine says she will not go with Petruchio, but rather will enjoy the feast without him.... (full context)
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Everyone is astonished at Petruchio's behavior. Bianca says that Katherine is mad and has found a fittingly mad mate. Baptista tells everyone that they can... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...a fire. He tells another servant, Curtis, to help start a fire, since Petruchio and Katherine will be arriving soon. He asks if everything is ready for their arrival, the house... (full context)
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Grumio tells Curtis that, on her way to the house, Katherine fell off her horse into the mud. Instead of helping Katherine up, Petruchio beat Grumio,... (full context)
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Petruchio and Katherine arrive. Petruchio is angry that the servants did not meet him outside and immediately begins... (full context)
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...announces, "Thus have I politicly begun my reign," (iv.1.188). He says that he will train Katherine as falconers tame falcons: he will not let her eat or sleep until she obeys... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
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At Petruchio's home, Katherine complains to Grumio about Petruchio's behavior, telling him she is starved and has not been... (full context)
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...Hortensio enter. Petruchio has brought a large portion of meat with him, and demands that Katherine thank him for bringing her food. Katherine thanks him, and Petruchio allows her to begin... (full context)
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Katherine protests, telling Petruchio, "I am no child, no babe," (iv.3.79) but he sends the haberdasher... (full context)
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Petruchio tells Katherine that they will go to her father's in their humble, everyday clothes, minimizing the importance... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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Petruchio, Katherine, Hortensio, and some of Petruchio's servants are making the journey from Petruchio's house to Padua.... (full context)
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Katherine relents and agrees that it is the moon shining, not the sun. Petruchio immediately changes... (full context)
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Pleased that Katherine is obedient, Petruchio prepares to continue the journey, but just as they are setting out... (full context)
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...see his son Lucentio. Petruchio happily greets him as his father-in-law, since Lucentio is marrying Katherine's sister. Vincentio is confused by this and thinks that Petruchio is playing a joke on... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...is taking to bring Bianca. After Lucentio leaves with Biondello and Bianca, Petruchio arrives with Katherine, Vincentio, and Grumio. Vincentio knocks on the door and asks for Lucentio. The merchant (who... (full context)
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Petruchio and Katherine, meanwhile, have been watching all this commotion. Katherine suggests they go see how the matter... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...Baptista, Vincentio, Gremio, the merchant who had pretended to be Vincentio, Lucentio, Bianca, Petruchio, and Katherine are all present. The servants Tranio, Grumio, and Biondello are there as well, as are... (full context)
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...trade jokes and jibes, the widow teases Petruchio for being married to a shrew, offending Katherine. The women leave, and Tranio also teases Petruchio, saying he is ruled by his wife.... (full context)
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Petruchio tells Grumio to find Katherine and tell her that Petruchio commands her to come to him. Grumio goes to get... (full context)
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The men are amazed at Katherine's obedience. Baptista says that Petruchio has won the bet, and jokes that he'll give him... (full context)
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Petruchio asks Kate to tell the other wives what duty they owe to their husbands. The widow protests,... (full context)