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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: December ::
Taming of the Shrew Query
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2110  Wednesday, 15 December 2004

From:           Michael Friedman <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 14 Dec 2004 13:47:15 -0500
Subject:        Taming of the Shrew Query

I have a question about a passage from *Shrew* that I am working on with
an actor about to play Petruchio.  In 4.3, Petruchio responds to the
Tailor's suggestion that Petruchio is making a puppet of Kate with the
following outburst:

O monstrous arrogance!
Thou liest, thou thread, thou thimble,
Thou yard, three-quarters, half-yard, quarter, nail!
Thou flea, thou nit, thou winter cricket thou!
Braved in mine own house with a skein of thread! (4.3.106-10)

Throughout the passage, Petruchio obviously draws his terms of abuse
from the vocabulary of tailors.  My question, then, is about line 109,
which seems to drop the jargon of the tailor and speak about insects.
Clearly, Petruchio sees the tailor as an insignificant little bug, but I
haven't yet been able to perceive the logical thread that starts him in
on the insect references, then takes him back to the milieu of the
haberdasher.  For a moment, I considered that these insects might be
cloth-eaters, but I'm only aware of moths doing such a thing.  None of
the editions of the play I have consulted throw any light upon this
question.  Can anyone out there help?

Michael D. Friedman
University of Scranton

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