A Moral of the Marriage of Mind and Measure

Dramatis Personae: Petruchio; Katherine Minola.

Roman à clef : Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron WIlloughby de Eresby; Mary Bertie, née de Vere.

Text & Context: This is yet another of the plays performed for the queen and court in 1579. It was enacted by the most popular of the court troupes, The Children of Paul's. The play is lost, but many consider it the prototype for what would become The Taming of A Shrew and later The Shrew.  All of these plays are seen to caricature the wedding [circa. January 1758] and rocky marriage between Peregrine Bertie, soldier and diplomat, later Lord Willoughby, and Edward de Vere's difficult sister Mary de Vere.

 

Dramatis Personae: Christopher Sly.

Text & Context: Printed anonymously in 1594, A Shrew may be an early version of The Shrew, published spuriously by the broker William Shaksper in the manner suggested by Jonson's Poet-Ape. 

 The notion this play is a memorial reconstruction tests the credibility of the memorial reconstruction theory. There are some minor plot differences, such as Kate having two sisters being wooed, and the names often differ, such as Ferando for Petruchio, but the essential story line is the same, if abbreviated. The major difference is the drunken tinker character Christopher Sly, and the completeness of his framing story. In The Shrew, Sly and the characters of the framing story disappear completely from the play early on, making a nonsense of their existence at all and suggesting the official Shakespeare version of 1623 is a "Bad Folio". With the framing story intact, the fact that what the audience is witnessing is not a naturalistic rendition of life but a burlesque entertainment devised for a drunk significantly alters the mood and meaning of the play as a whole. When Ferando/Petruchio attends his wedding in the clothes of a motley, a direct allusion is made between the beggar Sly dressed up as a lord, and when at the end of it all Sly suggests he will return home and try out what he's learned on his wife, the disparity between stark reality and fantastic conceit are made explicit. 

 A Shrew contains an inordinate amount of paraphrasings from Marlowe, and some have proposed Sly is a send up of Marlowe. It has also been suggested the Lord and his troupe of actors openly refer to the actors who would have performed the play in its day. Where this unauthorized card would have fit in the Shakespeare Tarot is the subject on ongoing debate, but scholarly consensus has it replacing Touchstone as the Page of Crowns card. 

The Taming of A Shrew