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Shakspeare, Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Scene II

1803, Engraving
Shakspeare, Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Scene II
Shakspeare, Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Scene II
Shakspeare, Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Scene II
Library Item
Item no
Shakspeare [Shakespeare]. Taming of the Shrew. Induction. Scene II
SLY: Am I a lord? and have I such a lady?/ Or do I dream? or have I dream'd till now?/ I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak;/ I smell sweet savours and I feel soft things:/ Upon my life, I am a lord indeed

The Induction is an unusual way for Shakespeare to open a play, since this is the only occasion that he uses a framing story for the occurring events. In the induction, a lord finds the beggar Christopher Sly passed out, and thinks it would be funny to trick him into thinking that he woke up a lord. So, he takes the drunkard home, and makes the servants dress him up in riches and put into a nice bed. When he wakes, Sly at first does not believe he is a lord, but the servants around and his situation has no other explanation. Robert Smirke illustrates the scene in the style that we have seen him use in his previous pictures. The highborn people are depicted as beautiful and elegant, while the servants or the people of the streets are almost comically ugly. This contrast is indisputable in this picture, where Sly is in the centre, looking extremely unpleasant and very confused, while the handsome highborn gentlemen around tend to him. There is a black servant, akin to Sly in his caricaturist feature, but he too is part of the charade put up for the drunkard. On the far left, another handsome person laughs at Sly, this is his pretend wife, Page, who is only disguised as a lady, but here she looks like a proper highborn woman. The whole room is very elegant as well, with antique paintings hanging on the walls, and rich drapery. This setting gives an even bigger contrast to the man in the middle.
Thomas Ryder
63 x 50 cm
Art and Design Library
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