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Other Literary Devices Used in The Taming of the Shrew

Other Literary Devices Used in The Taming of the Shrew


Alliteration is the repetition of a starting sound in two or more words.
         “Katherine the Curst.”
           — Hortensio (1.2.128)


A pun is a play on words used to suggest the different meanings of alike or similar words.

         “I did but tell her she mistook her frets.” (He means the frets on a guitar.)

        “Frets, call you these? . . . I’ll fume.” (She means “to annoy,” as in “to fret and fume.”)
          — Hortensio (2.1.149-152)


Extended Metaphor

Also called a conceit, an extended metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things that continues throughout a series of sentences. For example, in the following speech, Petruchio compares his treatment of Kate to the practice of falconry, or training wild falcons for hunting. The wild and stubborn birds, who were the strongest and most valued, would be kept from food and rest until they were willing to follow the commands of their keeper. 

     My falcon now is sharp and passing empty;
     And till she stoop she must not be full-gorged,
     For then she never looks upon her lure.
     Another way I have to man my haggard,
     To make her come and know her keeper’s call,
     That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites
      That bate and beat and will not be obedient.
                — Petruchio (4.1.190-196)

A number of these words, such as those in the following list, may be unfamiliar to modern audiences.

     Sharp: hungry, alert, aware of its captor.

     Stoop: to follow the lure put out by the trainer, to swoop when called.

     Full-gorged: fully fed, no longer hungry.

     To man: to train, tame, overcome

     Haggard: female hawk

     To watch: to keep awake

     Kites: a bird of prey, such as a falcon, that soars on updrafts of air

     Bate and beat: flutter and flap about