Illusion Vs. Reality Essay, Research Paper
Illusion vs. Reality
Generally, people have the tendency to judge individuals by their appearance, exactly the way they judge a book by it s cover. However, appearance doesn t always help reveal a person s true colors. In the play, The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, Shakespeare portrays this perception of illusions vs. reality through three major plots, which are the Induction with Christopher Sly, the Petruchio/Katharina debacle, as well the Katharina/Bianca situation dealing with shrewishness.
One can see that Shakespeare uses illusions from the beginning of play in the Induction with Christopher Sly. Christopher Sly is introduced to the audience as a beggar at the beginning of the Induction, fighting with a hostess at an alehouse. Soon afterwards, he passes out in front of the alehouse, when a lord finds him sleeping. The lord tells his servants to take Sly in and trick him into believing that he is a lord himself. The lord s servants place Sly into the lord s bed and dress him with exceptional clothes and jewelry. When Sly awakens, he thinks he is dreaming because the servants offer Sly wine and food. Sly protests that he remembers himself as being a poor beggar. The lord tells Sly that this explanation is the result of a madness that he has been in for 15 years, but Sly is still skeptical. However, when his wife comes in, who is a page to the lord dressed up as a lady, Sly is convinced that he is a lord by exclaiming Am I a lord? And have I such a lady? Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now? I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak, Upon my life, I am a lord indeed, and not a tinker nor Christopher Sly . Well, bring our lady hither to our sight, and once again a pot o the smallest ale. (Page 10) When he hears that he has a wife , he thinks that nothing else can be more astonishing than that. The hint that he is extremely blissful is shown when he pronounces, Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone. Madam, undress you and come now to bed (Page 12) in the Induction in lines 113-114. It is obvious that Sly will believe anything to get what he wants, which is sex with his own wife . Sly would rather be a lord and have shelter and food then be a poor tinker. When reading the Induction, the reader probably thought that Sly was just a beggar through his appearance, but at the end of the Induction, one can obviously see that Sly was misleading when he assumed that he was a lord just to suit his needs.
Another important plot that Shakespeare uses illusions to demonstrate what an actor did to accomplish their goals in this play was through Petruchio and Kate. When Petruchio first comes to Padua, he is portrayed as a man who brings joy to all those around him. In Act I, Scene II, it is clear that Petruchio comes out to be a nice-hearted person, who is joking around with Hortensio, his good friend when he says Signor Hortensio, come you to part the fray? Con tutto il cuore, ben trovato, may I say in lines 23-24. Petruchio tells Hortensio that he has come to Padua to woo a woman with a heavy dowry. Hortensio tells him that he has someone in mind, which is Katharina, but he warns Petruchio about her shrewish attitude. Petruchio doesn t mind and agrees to woo Katharina. Before Petruchio meets Katharina, he meets Baptista, Katharina s father. Baptista warns him that Katharina is very stubborn and shrewish, but Petruchio claims that he can handle her. When Petruchio is alone in Act II, Scene I, he says And woo her with some spirit when she comes. Say that she rail, why then I ll tell her plain she sings sweetly as a nightingale in lines 169-171. It is apparent that Petruchio seems like a charming, sweet guy at first. Even when Petruchio first meets Katharina, he seems like the perfect match for her. He matches her wit for wit and cleverly reacts to every move she makes. For instance, when Katharina says, If I be waspish, best beware my sting in lines 210, Petruchio says, My remedy is then to pluck it out. One can tell that Petruchio is evidently charismatic. However, as time passes, the reader can see that Petruchio has another side to his personality. Determined to tame Katharina and make her an obedient woman, Petruchio reveals his cruel and tormenting ways. For example, when they are on their way to Padua from the country house, Katharina says, I know it is the sun that shines so bright, in line 3 during Act IV, Scene V, opposing what Petruchio says, which is that the moon shines so bright. Petruchio threatens Kate by making her admit that the moon is the sun, which is really not, or she won t be allowed to attend Bianca s wedding to Lucentio. Instead of being good-humored, he manipulates Kate into speaking bold-faced lies, using scheming devices to make her tamed. Rather than being the loving husband, Petruchio acts like a heartless man.
Furthermore, Shakespeare has created an illusion between Katharina and Bianca as well. The reader presumably envisions Katharina to be the shrew in the beginning because of her behavior towards others, and Bianca as the sweet angel of her father, Baptista, but in reality, this is the complete reverse. In the beginning of the play, one can tell that Katharina seems like a sadistic animal, who is continuously angry at the whole world, but she has the personality she has because no one has ever taken the time to listen to what she actually feels. For example, with her father Baptista, he is always kind and sweet to Bianca, but never has the time or day for Katharina. When Katharina is talking to Baptista and her sister, Bianca, she says, A pretty peat! It is best put finger in the eye, an she knew why, in lines 78-79 in Act I, Scene I, she is calling out for attention, not acting spitefully. In spite of all the flattery Bianca receives, the only time Katharina is ever talked about is when she acts like a shrew. The first time in the play when Katharina s true personality surfaces is when she is at Petruchio s country house. As Petruchio mocks Katharina with food, she exclaims in lines 156-157 in Act IV, Scene I, I pray you husband, be not so disquiet. The meat is well, if you were so contented. Katharina tries to beseech Petruchio to be reasonable since she is starving. One can tell that this scene is the turning point in Katharina s personality and that she too is human. On the other hand, Bianca comes out to be the sweet, innocent girl in everyone s eyes in the beginning of the play. Her na ve appearance leads everyone to believe that she is obedient and can be easily controlled. Even though she isn t as blunt as her sister, Bianca is determined to get what she wants. For example, with all the suitors she has, she cleverly deceives them by being the attractive woman that they want her to be, so that they can continue to buy her gifts. When she finally chooses Lucentio as her husband, she has more control over the marriage than what is shown. Bianca s true outer shell appears during the wager in Act V, Scene II. When Lucentio asks Biondello to ask Bianca to come and see him, Biondello returns claiming that Bianca said she is busy and cannot come. By the end, the reader can see that under Bianca s pure face she is the true shrew in the play and Katharina is the innocent woman who just wanted someone to love and care for her.
Overall, in the play The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare uses illusions vs. reality in this play to illustrate how the actors used their own tactics to get what they wanted. For instance, Christopher Sly didn t believe that he could be a lord at first, but when he saw his wife , he automatically changed his mind and went along with the idea. In the same way, Petruchio comes out to be a forthcoming man, but when he marries Katharina, one can see that he has a malevolent side to him when he wants to accomplish something, which in this case was to tame Katharina. In addition, it is apparent to the reader that Bianca has been the shrew throughout the play when the men create a wager to see who s wife would obey them. Katharina is the only true, obedient wife at the end of the play. Therefore, one can tell that Shakespeare uses these illusions to show how the actors conned people into getting what they wanted.