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Taming of the Shrew
Critical Essay Assignment
For your final assessment choose ONE of the following topics and write an essay of at least 5 well
developed paragraphs with a controlling thesis statement.
1. Analyzing a Character. Characters may be dynamic or static. Dynamic characters undergo an important
change in attitude, values, or behavior. In contrast, static characters remain pretty much the same
throughout a play, novel, or short story. Select one of the following characters and write an essay showing
that the character is either dynamic or static: Kate, Bianca, Petruchio, Lucentio, Baptista, Trainio. Support
your position by specific references to the characters words and actions. Do not merely retell the story.
2. Analyzing a Favorite Scene. Certain scenes have stronger appeal than others and yield enjoyment when
they are remembered after the plays reading or performance. What is your favorite scene in The Taming
of the Shrew? Write an essay explaining the scenes appeal to you. Consider elements such as humor, irony,
suspense, conflict, character, props, language, and theme.
3. Responding to a Critic. Should The Taming of the Shrew be categorized as a comedy or as a farce? A
farce is a type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in farfetched,
silly situations. The humor arises from crude physical action, slapstick, and clowning. Comedy is a type of
drama that ends happily because the protagonist, usually and ordinary person, overcomes a series of
obstacles. Unlike pure farce, comedy may pose serious and realistic problems for the protagonist. After
reading contrasting comments of the two critics below, respond to one of them by writing a paragraph in
which you argue for or against the critic’s position. Support your argument by citing specific details from
the play.
a. The Taming of the Shrew…was an adaptation of an older play. Shakespeare took what was
originally a tidy little farce and transformed it into a vigorous and colourful one; but it remains a
rather heartless play, and although Katherina and Petruchio are entertaining they are not
particularly real people. – from Marchette Chutte, An Introduction to Shakespeare.
b. For his third comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare went to Gascoingne’s Supposes…,
but he combined this plot, very ingeniously, with the “taming” plot, and he set both in the framework
of the gulling of Christopher Sly. The distancing of the play by the induction, the contrast between
the levels of reality represented by the two main plots, and the sermon with which the play
concludes-however unpalatable to modern tastes- prevent the comedy from being farcical. – from
Kenneth Muir, ed. Shakspeare; The Comedies
4. Is this Play Sexist? Think about the play as a whole and the discussions that we have had in
class. In an essay of several paragraphs discuss this question and offer evidence (from the text)
to support your interpretation.
First paragraph
is catchy.
Thesis is
evident and
point to be
argued well
First paragraph
has a weak
"grabber." Thesis
is mixed among
many sentences
and hard to piece
Creates a
interaction with
the reader.
There is a
sense of a
person behind
the words.
The essay is
very well
organized. Five
evident. One
idea or scene
follows another
in a logical
sequence with
clear transitions.
The entire
essay is related
to the assigned
topic and allows
the reader to
much more
about the topic.
The writer’s voice
is present. There
is a sense of
“writing to be
A catchy beginning
was attempted but
was confusing
rather than catchy.
Thesis is not
entirely apparent
although topic is
The writer’s voice
may emerge at
times. There is little
sense of “writing to
be read.”
No attempt was
made to catch the
reader's attention
in the first
paragraph. Thesis
is not apparent
nor is the topic of
the essay.
The writer’s voice
provides little, if
any, sense of
involvement or
commitment and
there is no sense
of “writing to be
Ideas seem to be
arranged. No
effort at
___x 4 = ___/ 16
___x 6 = ___/ 24
___x 6 = ___/ 24
Focus on
Assigned Topic
___ x 6 = ___/ 24
___ x 3 = ___/12
The essay has
few, if any,
grammar, or
usage errors.
The essay is
pretty well
organized. Five
evident. One idea
may seem out of
place. Clear
transitions are
The essay is a little
hard to follow.
Paragraphs are
unclear. The
transitions are
sometimes not
Most of the essay
is related to the
assigned topic.
The essay
wanders off at
one point, but the
reader can still
learn something
about the topic.
The essay has
two or three
mechanics errors.
Some of the essay
is related to the
assigned topic, but
a reader does not
learn much about
the topic.
No attempt has
been made to
relate the essay
to the assigned
The essay has four
or five mechanics
The essay has
more than five
mechanics errors.