Christopher Sly, a nomadic, audacious and intentional fellow found in a stat of unconsciousness, lying almost dead in the ditch outside of Marian Hacket's Wincote Tavern, only to be foreseen by Shakespeare to be pronounced as a tool of intervention between the rivaling classes of his day and age. Sly being subject to a vanquished social rank is given an opportunity to take a second look at himself through the eyes of our thoughtful yet roguish author. Through the viewing of The Taming of the Shrew Christopher Sly is meant to come to find his higher calling, much like Katharina finds herself the unselfish obliging wife. The story line is created to questions ones position in society and life, to take risks, harness the indecision's set forth and to take hold of the reigns that give us access to that luster and to shine like the gentry. William Shakespeare settled in his ways of gentle persuasions leaves us wondering if it was all so unintentional.
Alone, a body lies carelessly thrown, lost and forgotten by the side of the Milcote road, only to be stumbled upon by the local aristocracy and given the right to be played a joke on by the jovial Nobility. This jest in practice takes our unfortunate hero out of misfortune and places him directly in the heart of pure wealth. In giving the drunkard access to his Royal pleasures, his Honor, the Lord, must abandon the appearance of his social rank to help maintain the suspension of belief amongst his serfs. This unique vantage point lets the Lord maintain his position as an observer and jester. It also allows him close access to Sly, the Lord often enlisting himself to reflecting openly Sly’s true (false) calling. “Heaven cease this idle humor in Your Honor! Oh, that mighty man of such descent, of such possessions and so high esteem, Should be infused with so foul a spirit!” (Induction.2.13.18). Allowing Christopher such a sly perspective point to reflect upon the play also gives him the opportunity to whiteness himself through the eyes of a member of the gentry.
While watching The Taming of the Shrew the audience can’t help but realize they are watching a play within a play, adding a heightened point of view of the event as a whole. It starts with Sly, but it ends with Katharina sharing her gained insight into womanhood. Her shrewish behaviors and feelings of resentment have changed and she wants to convince the other women to “Unknit that threatening, unkind brow And dart not scornful glances,” (184.108.40.206) Observing this scene would be Sly himself and the audience beyond that would be observing Sly. Shakespeare framed the plot around an open-ended illusion, gently nudging the gentry to uphold their position as keepers of people, by indoctrinating Katharina as being the voice of Gentile reason. Upon her final speech Katharina communicates the theme of the whole Meta story
for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labor both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience—
Too little payment for so great a dept.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince, (220.127.116.11)
Katharina’s final speech encompasses the entirety of Shakespeare’s project, her voice being the evocation of the Lord’s though to playing the jest on the drunkard.
By creating “The Taming of the Shrew” in such an open-ended format the author crucifies anyone watching, from Sly to the actual audience. We the reader are subjected into believing that if Katharina can recreate her reality to cater to her true calling more appropriately, so can you, so can I, and in addition Shakespeare’s positioning of Sly in the beginning of the play is because he needs to use him as the antagonistic “good guy”. The author leaves himself vulnerable to his own devices as well, by making way to the possibilities that a bum can uphold himself in respect to the aristocratic tendencies. To protect himself from possible outbursts of outrage from the audience, Shakespeare leaves the inductions open to discussion. He couldn’t have Sly leave the theater a merry old honorable Lord. The Gentry and the Aristocrats would go mad, he couldn’t have the beggar go through such a dynamic change only to go back a bum, because the bourgeois and trades people would not leave the theater conscious in the manner the author intended. Shakespeare’s intent was to have the audience become a participant in the suspension of belief. Shakespeare wasn’t thinking about just anyone, but everyone. He wanted to infatuate his audience with the possibility of more, more for the homeless and weak, more for the rich and powerful. His plan was to afford the participants in the act of realizing the drama in their lives to overcome transparent obstacles and be the best they can be. This places each individual in a position where they must martyr themselves, much like Katharina does when she say’s “that seeming to be most which we indeed least are. Then veil your stomach, for it is no boot, And place your hands below your husband’s foot, in token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready; may it do ease.” (18.104.22.168). Her unorthodox approach to her new husband shocks everyone into believing they’re little charade, making it real, as well as winning Petruchio the bet. Shakespeare bet on the fact that the aristocracy wouldn’t realize he was sacrificing the bed of the Honored Lord to cater to the commoners.
After reading through The Tamming of the Shrew we find the author an intentionally sly audacious fellow. Shakespeare risking his reputation by thrusting a “mounstrous beast”(Induction.1.33.) into the life of a noble man does the world as a whole, justice. By focusing on the peoples he finds within his own community the author remains authentic to his beliefs. These beliefs revolved around the opportunity for equality and the chance to change. Sly as he may be Shakespeare was always found to be honest enough in his work, to reflect his understanding accurately. He believed in equality, and he produced it within his dramatic fiction.
Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. The Necessary Shakespeare third Edition. David Bevington. Chicago: 2009.