To Shrew or not to Shrew
HORTENSIO. Now, go thy ways, thou hast tamed a curst shrow.
LUCENTIO. 'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so. (5.2.205-06)
Hortensio's declaration that the "curst shrow" Katherine had been tamed is astonishing to all the audience in the final scene of The Taming of the Shrew. After hurling furniture, throwing fits and attacking her sister, Katherine delivers a speech that praises obedience and scorns rough behavior. Supposedly, this speech demonstrates Katherine's obedience to her husband, Petruchio, who has forced her to realize the error of her previous behavior. Genuine submission, however, is an unlikely characteristic for Katherine to adopt. A complete reformation becomes more improbable after an analysis of the scenes surrounding her "taming." Several of these engagements confirm the excellence of her acting ability. This evidence suggests her ability to impersonate the character of a tamed shrew.
Her dialogue during these moments of obedience seems to mirror the language Petruchio uses earlier to tame her, implying that Katherine employs Petruchio's own misleading strategies against him. Even the manners of her language, filled with double meanings, contradict her assumed transformation.
Katherine first reveals her talent for deception as she and Petruchio head toward Padua for her sister's wedding. When her husband incorrectly labels the daylight as the "bright and goodly shining" of the moon, she immediately protests (4.5.2). However, the moment Petruchio threatens her journey home, she begins to act. In order that she fulfills her desire to return home, she begs that they continue and vows that "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" (4.5.13-15).