The second act was relatively short, but it sure packed in a lot of terrible behavior from most of the characters in the play. We see a little domestic violence, a non-consensual betrothal, and a dipstick of a father at his wits’ end. Everybody is lying to each other to suit their own ends and it is as disgusting as it is entertaining. Most of the people in this play are miserable human beings and I am here for it.
We start the act with Bianca antagonizing Katharina for standing in her way of a good marriage. When Katharina pushes back on this idea, Bianca gets fresh with her and Katharina hits her. Baptista breaks up the fight and tells them to go to their rooms. He says, “Was ever a gentleman thus grieved as I?”, as though he is not the author of all of his own troubles. He may very well be the least self-reflective character in the play, and that’s saying something. Anyway, all the dudes arrive presently and Hortensio and Lucentio in disguise are introduced as tutors to the young ladies. They go off to do their teacherly duties and Petruchio remains behind to ask after Katharina and her pile of cash. Baptista says if Petruchio can successfully woo Katharina, it is money well-spent and well-earned. Just then, Hortensio returns with a head injury from Katharina smashing a lute over his head, providing an effective counterpoint to Petruchio’s confident claims of his seductive powers.
Petruchio gets some alone time with Katharina, during which they have a very saucy conversation. Through some rather forced wordplay around the sting of a sharp tongue and the sting of a wasp’s tail, Katharina bids Petruchio farewell and he replies, “What, with my tongue in your tail?”. Reader, this line made me gasp audibly. They go on in this fashion for a bit before Katharina slaps Petruchio. He threatens to hit her back, but collects himself and begins to list her non-existent virtues. Eventually, Baptista comes back and Petruchio says they have decided to marry on Sunday. Katharina says this is a dirty lie, but Baptista chooses to believe Petruchio and the wedding is set. Then Baptista says whoever can provide the biggest dowry can marry Bianca. Tranio (as Lucentio) lies about his father’s wealth and obtains Baptista’s permission to marry Bianca. The act closes with Tranio determining he will have to invent a father to corroborate Tranio’s boasts in order to seal the deal.
All these people are just plain horrible. I love it so much. This is the kind of comedy I can get behind and I’m looking forward to how the play turns out. I mean, I’ve got a good idea, but I can’t wait to see it play out. Until next time!
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