The Taming of the Shrew

Animals Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Animals Symbol Icon

The title of the play already contains an animal metaphor, implicitly comparing Katherine to an unruly shrew. Similar imagery pervades the play. Katherine is often called a shrew and Gremio calls her a “wildcat,” (i.2.198). Petruchio builds on this pun with “cat” and “Kate” when he tells her he will “bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate / Conformable as other household Kates,” (ii.1.292-293). This notion of Katherine as a wild animal that must be tamed continues over the course of the play, as when Petruchio compares his method of taming her to that of a falconer taming a falcon. These insulting comparisons symbolize Katherine’s wild temperament, but also the misogyny with which the play’s male characters regard her. Simply because she doesn’t adhere to a strict definition of a noblewoman, she is denigrated as animal-like.

It is not just Katherine who is compared to animals. The lord in the Induction calls Christopher Sly a “monstrous beast,” and “a swine,” (Induction 1.35), further exemplifying animal imagery as insulting. Throughout the play, animal imagery is used to degrade various characters who are seen as of a lesser status, often because of gender or social class. But no one is the object of these animal insults more than Katherine, as the imagery of a wild animal and a tamer has particular symbolic significance for the play’s sexist portrayal of male-female unions and traditional gender roles.

Animals Quotes in The Taming of the Shrew

The The Taming of the Shrew quotes below all refer to the symbol of Animals. 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

But will you woo this wildcat?

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

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat

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Animals Symbol Timeline in The Taming of the Shrew

The timeline below shows where the symbol Animals appears in The Taming of the Shrew. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
...asks if Petruchio is aware of Katherine's faults and wonders if he can "woo this wildcat," (i.2.198). Petruchio is confident that he can. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
...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 him. He will pretend... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Theater, Performance, and Identity Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...the news about Hortensio. He also tells them that Petruchio is a master at taming shrews. Biondello arrives and tells Tranio that he has found a merchant who may be able... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
...the banquet 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... (full context)