Petruchio's Disguise and Identity

Essay by sub7imina7High School, 12th grade April 2004

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Petruchio's Disguise and Identity

There are many reasons for Shakespeare using devices of disguise and altered identities in his plays. In fact in a great number of his plays disguise plays an integral role. A character"'"s purpose for disguising themselves may be to help or hinder other characters, to reveal truths, or perhaps simply for comedy. For Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew it can be all of these, and helps us better understand what William Shakespeare"'"s points might be. Shakespeare uses disguises in a great number of his plays, but Petruchio is interesting because of his deliberate and focused use of it. Petruchio is conscious of the guises he puts forth, to attain specific goals while wooing Katherina. Petruchio seems to have a firm grip on the use of how people perceive him and how he can use that to his own benefit, and ultimately to the benefit of Katherina.

At the beginning of The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio seems not to be using any disguises. Petruchio approaches his friend Hortensio"'"s house in Padua, from whom he learns of the two sisters and their plight. Petruchio agrees to woo the shrewish Katherina so that Bianca, the modest one, can in turn be wooed. His reasons for taking on this fiery women, as he puts it to Hortensio, '"'if thou know / One rich enough to be Petruchio"'"s wife...I come to wive it wealthily in Padua; / If wealthily, then happily in Padua'"' (Shr. 1.2.65-75). Here we can see that he has come from his home with the explicit intention to wed, and further more, to wed a woman with a large dowry. He does not seem to be wearing any disguises here, but as my English teacher pointed out, when compared with...