Various interpreters and commentators have offered a diversity of opinions on the final scene of the play. David Bevington, a Shakespeare scholar the University of Chicago, describes the great variety of recent stage renditions of Katherine’s final monologue in his introduction to The Taming of the Shrew in the edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare which he edited:
Kate emerges in various stage productions as more or less contented, or as simply resigned, or as cruelly brainwashed, or as only playing the role of obedient wife to get what she wants.
None of this, however, seems necessary in the light of Shakespeare’s use of the creation narrative of a subtext for the relationship between Petruchio and Katherine. It is quite possible, indeed much more likely, that both Katherine and Petruchio are quite happy in the relationship that they have established for themselves, a relationship that entails a mutuality of wills and a shared mastery over the world around them. Sly is the foil to Petruchio and Bianca and Hortensio’s Widow are the foils to Katherine specifically because each of them remains apart from their respective partners. Each refuses to understand and identify with his or her spouse. Katherine and Petruchio, on the other hand, have merged themselves into a marriage of perfect harmony in which neither has lost anything but each has gained the other.
 Bevington, Complete Works, 110.
When Katherine and Petruchio finally meet, their initial dialogue is a hilarious exchange of insults and innuendo which incorporates language about the creation of men and women:
Why, what’s a movable?
A joint stool.
Thou hast hit it. Come, sit on me.
Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Women are made to bear, and so are you.
No such jade as you, if me you mean.
In this and the other barbs they exchange, both Petruchio and Katherine attempt to force each other into submission. Katherine compares Petruchio to inanimate objects (“a joint stool”) and animals (“asses” and a “jade,” which David Bevington identifies as “an ill-conditioned horse”). In so doing, she is attempting to establish mastery over him like the mastery she has over other objects and animals, as well as other men, whom she treats as objects and animals. Petruchio responds by reminding her of the expectations of women in Elizabethan society to “bear” their husbands and, subsequently, to “bear” children. To this she responds with her usual rebuffs against such expectations. As the two go round with each other, each discovers in the other an equal match, the first which either of them have encountered, though neither of them is willing yet to acknowledge it. When Baptista and the other men return, Petruchio proclaims to them that “‘tis incredible to believe / How much she loves me.” While it is tempting to reject this as a lie by Petruchio, especially given that much of what follows in the same statement is clearly false and Kate attempts to protest at such statements by Petruchio, Harold Bloom offers the best explanation for what has occurred: “the swaggering Petruchio provokes a double reaction in her: outwardly furious, inwardly smitten.”
Indeed, this is the only explanation which can take into account Katherine’s behavior in the scene in which she next appears, waiting outside of the church for a very late Petruchio to arrive to their wedding. After worrying aloud, in a monologue that is remarkably uncharacteristic of a shrew, what people will think of her now that Petruchio has apparently abandoned her, Katherine exclaims, “Would Katharine had never seen him, though!,” followed by the stage direction “Exit weeping.”
Petruchio does at last arrive and the marriage ceremony is completed, all in a manner that is consistent with the abrupt and over-the-top personality of Petruchio. As the wedding guests begin to make their way to the banquet following the ceremony, Shakespeare once again delves into explicit biblical commentary, taking up the opportunity to satirize a too-literal reading of the Tenth Commandment. Petruchio prevents Katherine from going with the guests to the wedding banquet, declaring,
I will be master of what is my own.
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything;
And here she stands, touch her whoever dare.
The scene is typical of the Petruchio’s outrageousness, yet serves a practical purpose. Petruchio here binds Katherine to himself, making her “bone of my bones / and flesh of my flesh,” in the words of Adam in Genesis, by separating her from her father and the rest of those of her household and hometown. As Petruchio continues, he presents himself as the rescuer and defender of Katherine against her family:
I’ll bring mine action on the proudest he
That stops my way in Padua.—Grumio,
We are beset with thieves.
Rescue thy mistress, if thou be a man.—
Fear not, sweet wench, they shall not touch thee, Kate!
I’ll buckler thee against a million.
As Marion D. Perret writes in her “Petruchio: The Model Wife,” “since protecting his wife is a man’s duty, this exaggeratedly masculine role, uncalled for by the immediate situation, acts as a public declaration that Petruchio will do his duty as a husband.” This “brilliant stroke” then “forces Kate into the traditional feminine role.”
The remainder of Katherine’s “taming” once she enters into Petruchio’s home is taken up by a series of scenes in which Petruchio implicitly questions her trespasses of his prerogatives by trespassing into territory traditionally assigned to the woman of the household. Upon, entering the house, for example, Petruchio, ordering about the servants, demands them to bring food. In so doing, Petruchio usurps Katherine’s wifely prerogatives of household management and food preparation, a point he drives home by asking her, once the food has been presented, “will you give thanks, sweet Kate, or else shall I?” As it was the husband’s duty to say the grace before meals, Petruchio is subtly asking Katherine whether she will continue in her former shrewish ways in his household by usurping his authority in the same manner that he has here usurped those tasks which would otherwise be under her dominion.
Petruchio again usurps Katherine’s prerogatives when a haberdasher and a tailor come to present them with new clothing for a journey back to Padua to visit Katherine’s father. While buying clothing would rightfully have been within the purview of the wife, Petruchio takes it upon himself to choose even Katherine’s clothing for her. This usurpation is driven home by Grumio’s intentional misunderstanding of Petruchio’s words as Petruchio rejects the dress the tailor has brought for Katherine to wear:
Well, sir, in brief, the gown is not for me.
You are i’the right, sir, ‘tis for my mistress.
Go, take it up unto thy master’s use.
Villain, not for thy life! Take up my mistress’ gown for thy master’s use!
Why sir, what’s your conceit in that?
Oh, sir, the conceit is deeper than you think for:
Take up my mistress’ gown to his master’s use!
Oh, fie, fie, fie!
The repetition of this bawdy double entendre by Grumio emphasizes Petruchio’s overstepping of the traditional role of a husband in his taking up himself of the roles that would more commonly be assigned to the wife.
The “taming” of Katherine reaches its climax along the road from Petruchio’s house back to her father’s house in Padua. It is here that the wills of Petruchio and Katherine finally come into sync and with the establishment of marital harmony there is a culmination in the process of creation of cosmos out of chaos which Shakespeare has been depicting. The scene begins, like Genesis, with an invocation of God and a declaration of the existence of light by Petruchio:
Come on, i’God’s name, once more toward our father’s.
Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
The brief debate that ensues from Petruchio’s declaration offers a short satire upon the debate over the source of the light created on the first day, according to Genesis 1:3-5, as the sun and the moon were created on the fourth day, according to Genesis 1:14-19:
The moon? The sun. It is not moonlight now.
I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
Petruchio, apparently exasperated with Katherine’s continued contrariness at last tells her that unless she agrees with him he will turn the party around and go back to his home rather than continuing on to her father’s house.
In a moment of sudden insight, however, Katherine realizes the game that Petruchio has been playing all along. Throughout their relationship, he has continuously attempted to forge a bond with her through a shared mastery over the norms of the society around them. In this instance, as Katherine realizes, he has turned their shared ability to stand above these social impositions upon nature itself. At last, she responds,
Then, God be blessed, it is the blessed sun.
But sun it is not, when you say it is not,
And the moon changes even as your mind.
What you will have it named, even that it is,
And so it shall be so for Katherine.
As Katherine’s will finally comes into sync with Petruchio’s, the process of new creation reaches its completion, a point made by Shakespeare with the arrival of Vincentio. Petruchio conspires with Katherine to pretend that Vincentio, an elderly man, is a “young budding virgin, fair, and fresh, and sweet.” As Katherine explains to the perplexed Vincentio at the completion of the trick,
Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes,
That have been so bedazzled with the sun
That everything I look on seemeth green.
Indeed, for Katherine and Petruchio, everything in the world is “green,” or new, in their new creation.
It is with the kiss between Petruchio and Katherine in the following scene that the process of new creation finally comes to a close. Standing outside of Katherine’s father’s house in Padua, Petruchio entreats his wife for a kiss. At first, she is hesitant, but finally relents.
First kiss me, Kate, and we will.
What, in the midst of the street?
What, art thou ashamed of me?
No, sir, God forbid, but ashamed to kiss.
Why, then let’s home again. Come, sirrah, let’s away.
Nay, I will give thee a kiss. Now pray thee, love, stay.
Like the primeval couple in the Garden, “the man and his wife were both naked” in their display of their love to the sight of the world, “and were not ashamed.”
 David Bevington, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 7th ed. (Boston: Pearson, 2014), 125.
 Ibid., 2.1.304-305.
 Bloom, Shakespeare, 29.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 3.2.26.
 Ibid., 3.2.229-233.
 Ibid., 3.2.234-239.
 Marion D. Perret, “Petruchio: The Model Wife,” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 23, no. 2 (Spring, 1983): 231.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 4.1.147.
 Ibid., 4.3.151-159.
 Ibid., 4.5.1-2.
 Ibid., 4.5.3-5.
 Ibid., 4.5.18-22.
 Ibid., 4.5.36.
 Ibid., 4.5.44-46.
 Gn. 2:25.
The same is true of Petruchio, who enters for the first time in the following scene in the midst of giving orders to his servant Grumio. When Grumio misunderstands Petruchio’s orders, Petruchio immediately turns to threats of violence, warning Grumio that he will “knock your knave’s pate,” and finally to actual violence as he grabs Grumo and “wrings him by the ears.” From the moment he enters the stage, then, Petruchio is violent, abrupt, and pompous. As Kahn accurately describes him,
he evokes and creates noise and violence. A hubbub of loud speech, beatings, and quarrelsomeness surrounds him. “The swelling Adriatic seas” and “thunder when the clouds in autumn crack” are a familiar part of his experience, which he easily masters with his own force of will and physical strength. Like Adam, he is lord over nature, and his own violence has been well legitimized by society, unlike Kate’s, which has marked her as unnatural and abhorrent.
Importantly, however, Petruchio is Adam before the creation of Eve, the Adam about whom God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Petruchio is alone because he has not yet met his match. Petruchio’s violence and pomposity are not presented as positive characteristics.
Petruchio’s violence is certainly more socially acceptable than Katherine’s, as when he describes the sounds and sights of battle:
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea, puffed up with winds,
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven’s artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in a pitched battle heard
Loud ‘larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?
In spite of the greater social acceptance of Petruchio’s state-sanctioned violence, however, he is nonetheless an outsider because of it. As Gremio, the elderly suitor of Bianca, comments beforehand on Petruchio’s plan to woo Katherine, “such a life with such a wife were strange.” When Petruchio, with his usual abruptness, approaches Katherine’s father Baptista to inquire about Katherine, Gremio warns him, “You are too blunt. Go to it orderly.” Petruchio, then, like Kate, lacks orderliness. He is, like her, an embodiment of the primeval chaos that pervaded existence before the creation.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 1.2.12, 17.
 Kahn, 92.
 Genesis 2:18, ESV.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 1.2.198-204.
 Ibid., 1.2.191.
 Ibid., 2.1.45.
Katherine is at first shown as a woman who is at war with all of those around her. The first sign that there is something amiss is that Katherine appears before Petruchio in the play. She first appears in the first scene and he follows her in the second. She, then, precedes him in the order of creation, indicating that chaos is in the ascendant. The first lines then spoken by Katherine are an accusation that her father is trying to turn her into a prostitute, an exhibition of her contempt for the familial and social hierarchies of the Elizabethans: “I pray you, sir, is it your will / To make a stale of me among these mates?” She follows this up with a rejection of any desire for marriage coupled with insults and threats of violence against her younger sister’s suitors. Addressing Hortensio, she says,
I’faith, sir, you shall never need fear;
Iwis it is not halfway to her heart.
But if it were, doubt not her care should be
To comb your noodle with a three-legged stool,
And paint your face, and use you like a fool.
These are no idle threats as she is indeed depicted, as Coppélia Kahn has pointed out, committing “four acts of physical violence onstage,” three of which are against men and one against her sister. Katherine even follows up on this threat of violence to Hortensio in particular when she smashes his head with a lute while he attempts to give her music lessons. As Hortensio, disguised as “Litio,” a music teacher, tells it,
I did but tell her she mistook her frets,
And bowed her hand to teacher her fingering,
When, with a most impatient devilish spirit,
“Frets, call you these?” quot she, “I’ll fume with them.”
And with that word she struck me on the head,
And through the instrument my pate made way;
And there I stood amazed for a while,
As on a pillory, looking through the lute,
While she did call me rascal fiddler
And twangling Jack, with twenty such vile terms,
As had she studied to misuse me so.
According to Kahn,
the language in which her music lesson with Hortensio is described conveys the idea that it is but another masculine attempt to subjugate woman. . . . Later Petruchio explicitly attempts to “break” Kate to his will, and throughout the play men tell her that she “mistakes her frets”—that her anger is unjustified.
Katherine, then, is not merely a “shrew,” but a woman who is, in a sense, in rebellion against cultural norms. As such, there is chaos in her life and in the lives of those around her.
 Ibid., 1.1.57-58.
 Ibid., 1.1.61-65.
 Coppélia Kahn, “‘The Taming of the Shrew’: Shakespeare’s Mirror of Marriage,” Modern Language Studies 5, no. 1 (Spring, 1975): 93.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1.149-159.
 Kahn, 93.
Sly is not the only character in the play whose failures at self-understanding result in unhappy relationships. Shakespeare presents two female characters whose troubled identities will no doubt lead to quite unhappy marriages with their respective husbands. These are Bianca, the younger sister of the supposedly shrewish Katherine, and the Widow, whose identity is so troubled that she is never so much as granted a name of her own.
The play-within-a-play which takes up most of The Taming of the Shrew and gives the play its name begins with Lucentio’s experience of love at first sight as he observes Bianca, the younger sister of the shrewish Katherine. His infatuation with Bianca, however, arises out of a false first impression. As he describes her after his first observation of her, Lucentio sees her as “young” and “modest,” assuring his servant Tranio that “sacred and sweet was all I saw in her.”
In the end, however, it is revealed that while Bianca may indeed be “young” she is far from “modest” and neither “sacred” nor “sweet.” While exchanging barbs with the other characters at the wedding banquet in the final scene, Bianca offers a series of jests with defiant overtones and bawdy undertones. In a reference to the common Elizabethan image of a horned cuckold, Bianca takes a jab at the other newly-married couples, Petruchio with her sister Kate and Hortensio, her former suitor, with the Widow:
Head, and butt! An hasty-witted body
Would say your head and butt were head and horn.
When Petruchio offers to bring her into the exchange of comical insults, Bianca responds with a double entendre, indicating her current intention to drop out of the conversation through reference to sexual imagery:
Am I your bird? I mean to shift my bush;
And then pursue me as you draw your bow.
At this, she exits the room along with the other women at the banquet.
Bianca completes the revelation of her true, and certainly less than “modest” or “sacred and sweet,” identity in her refusal of obedience to her new husband. When called upon by Lucentio to depart from her female friends and join him at the banquet, she sends the message through the servant Biondello “that she is busy and she cannot come.” Having been forced to rejoin her husband by the newly-tamed Katherine, Bianca offers mockery to the very notion that she has a “duty” to obey her husband:
Fie, what a foolish duty call you this?
I would your duty were as foolish [as Katherine’s], too.
The wisdom of your duty, fair Bianca,
Hath cost me a hundred crowns since suppertime.
The more fool you, for laying on my duty.
In this public chiding of her husband for having relied upon her to fulfill her duties as his wife, Bianca reveals herself as quite immodest and hardly “sacred” or “sweet,” contrary to Lucentio’s initial impression of her.
While Bianca’s case is one of a true identity hidden under an assumed one, the case of the Widow to whom Hortensio is married is one of an identity that has become static. It is remarkable that the Widow is still referred to as “Widow” in the text of the play even after she has married another man. Petruchio, for example, refers to her as “his [that is, Hortensio’s] widow.” She is not his widow, however; she is his wife. Even Hortensio, her husband, however, refers to her as “my widow.” Her identity is static and unchanging. It is still attached to her former husband.
Her lack of devotion to Hortensio is exhibited in the final game played among the men in which each calls his wife to see which of them responds most promptly. As the men discuss calling the women, she is finally referred to by Hortensio as “my wife” and by Petruchio as “Hortensio’s wife.” She rebuffs this identity, however, by rejecting the obligations it entails. When the servant Biondello is sent to her by Hortensio to tell her to join him, the servant returns to inform him, “She will not come. She bids you come to her.”
Katherine, in obedience to Petruchio, finally brings Bianca and the Widow to their husbands of the earlier refusal of each of the latter, upon which act the Widow comments, “Lord, let me never have a cause to sight / Till I be brought to such a silly pass!” For the Widow, a wife’s obedience to her husband is “silly.” When Petruchio orders Kate to lecture Bianca and the Widow on the responsibilities of wives to their husbands, the Widow objects that it is “mocking” and she “will have no telling,” reinforcing once again her objection to a change of identity from Widow to wife with all that the latter identity entails.
The result of the hidden identity of Bianca and the static identity of the Widow for themselves and for each of their respective husbands is, undoubtedly, quite unhappy marriages. Each of them refuses to see themselves in the role of an Eve to their respective Adam, fulfilling a role of mutual responsibility, cooperation, and affection like that implied by Adam’s exclamation in Genesis following the creation of Eve from his side:
This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.
It is, with a great deal of Shakespearean irony, the relationship between Petruchio and Katherine that best fits this biblical pattern. Indeed, Petruchio’s own description of his initial meeting with Katherine draws upon this model of mutual compatibility. Addressing the men who are astonished at Petruchio’s report of his love for Katherine, and her love for him, he says,
O, you are novices! ’tis a world to see,
How tame, when men and women are alone,
A meacock wretch can make the curstest shrew.
The establishment of a relationship based on mutual compatibility between Petruchio and Katherine is indeed “a world to see” as the story follows the structure of Elizabethan cosmogony.
In his classic work on The Elizabethan World Picture, E. M. W. Tillyard cites Edmund Spenser’s Hymn of Love as particularly illustrative of this cosmogony:
The earth the air the water and the fire
Then gan to range themselves in huge array
And with contrary forces to conspire
Each against other by all means they may,
Threat’ning their own confusion and decay;
Air hated earth and water hated fire,
Till Love relented their rebellious ire.
It is this cosmogony that is embodied in the plot following the relationship between Petruchio and Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew. Petruchio offers a description of himself and Katherine that closely resembles Spenser’s depiction of the elements at war:
Where two raging fires meet together,
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury.
Though little fire grows great with little wind,
Yet extreme gusts will blow out fire and all.
So I to her, and so she yields to me,
For I am rough and woo not like a babe.
Petruchio’s predicted conclusion does not prove entirely accurate, however, as, as will be seen, the actual outcome is much closer to Spenser’s description of the elements at peace with one another than Petruchio’s belief that one element will triumph over the other. Just as the Elizabethans pictured the movement of existence from chaos to cosmos, from disorder and strife to cooperation and compatibility, Petruchio and Katherine move from fractiousness with society, with each other, and within themselves through a process that mirrors the story of creation and culminates in the establishment of their own Edenic relationship to each other, to the world, and to their respective selves.
 Ibid., 1.1.157, 176.
 Ibid., 5.2.40-41.
 Ibid., 5.2.46-47.
 Ibid., 5.2.86.
 Ibid., 5.2.16.
 Ibid., 5.2.24.
 Ibid., 5.2.90, 105.
 Ibid., 5.2.96.
 Ibid., 5.2.127-128.
 Ibid., 5.2.136.
 Genesis 2:23, ESV.
 Ibid., 2.1.309-311.
 Edmund Spenser, Hymn of Love, qtd. in E. M. W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture (New York: Vintage Books, 1959), 12.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 2.1.132-137.
The Taming of the Shrew, written perhaps as early as 1592, is Shakespeare’s earliest treatment of the subjects of love, marriage, and the relationships between men and women. It is also, arguably, his fullest treatment of those subjects, particularly the subject of marriage. While other later plays, perhaps most notably A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, offer a commentary upon these subjects as well, The Taming of the Shrew is the only play by Shakespeare that is focused totally upon the subject of marriage and what makes for a happy—or unhappy—relationship between husband and wife. It also features the couple, Petruchio and Kate, whom Harold Bloom, the Yale-based scholar of literature, describes with characteristic succinctness and insight as the couple “who rather clearly are going to be the happiest married couple in Shakespeare.”
As a commentary upon marriage, The Taming of the Shrew is also a commentary upon the primeval marriage between Adam and Eve as described in the Book of Genesis. As a denizen of Elizabethan England, Shakespeare lived at a time and in a place in which the doctrines of Christianity were still taken seriously. Disputes over doctrine and church order had recently and violently shaken England and certain mores derived, in part, from the Bible still dictated acceptable behavior and language both onstage and off. One of the most important marriage manuals of Elizabethan England, Edmund Tilney’s The Flower of Friendship, of which “seven editions were published between 1568 and 1587,” including “three . . . within the first year of issue,” derives its principles for the proper relationship between husband and wife from the relationship between Adam and Eve. According to Valerie Wayne, a professor at the University of Hawai’i whose work has focused upon women in Early Modern England,
only three other Renaissance texts on marriage appeared in more English editions [than did Tilney’s work]: Heinrich Bullinger’s Christen State of Matrimonye of 1541 . . ., John Dod and Richard Cleaver’s Godlie Forme of Householde Government of 1598, and Erasmus’s Encomium matrimonii in its English translations.
All three of these works make extensive use of the biblical account of Adam and Eve in their respective discussions of marriage.
Indeed, the service for the “Solemnization of Matrimony” itself, from the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, the service book then in use in the Church of England, contains a prayer specifically invoking the example of Adam and Eve immediately before the Communion prayers begin:
Almighty God, who at the beginning did create our first parents, Adam and Eve, and did sanctify and join them together in marriage; Pour upon you the riches of his grace, sanctify and bless you, that ye may please him both in body and soul, and live together in holy love unto your lives’ end. Amen.
Significantly, this is the same book Petruchio knocks down along with the priest presiding over the marriage ceremony “when,” as Gremio describes it,
Should ask, if Katharina should be his wife,
‘Ay, by gogs-wouns,’ quoth he; and swore so loud,
That, all-amazed, the priest let fall the book;
And, as he stoop’d again to take it up,
The mad-brain’d bridegroom took him such a cuff
That down fell priest and book and book and priest:
‘Now take them up,’ quoth he, ‘if any list.’
It is this disdainful attitude toward decorum and social convention that characterize both Kate and Petruchio. Through a presentation of a commonality that begins with this mutual hostility toward the expectations of society and culminates in their eventual agreement to manipulate those expectations for their own benefit, Shakespeare offers to the audience of his play a new and altogether original commentary upon the story of Adam and Eve.
 Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998), 28.
 There was, for example, “An Act to Restrain Abuses of Players” passed by the English Parliament in 1606, which stipulated that ‘no person or persons . . . in any stage play, interlude, show, maygame, or pageant’ might ‘jestingly or profanely speak or use the holy name of God or Christ Jesus, or of the Holy Ghost or of the Trinity.’ Thus,” says Marjorie Garber, a scholar of Shakespeare at Harvard University, “swearing by the name of the Christian God on the stage was forbidden by law.” Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare After All (New York: Anchor Books, 2004), 660.
 Valerie Wayne, “Introduction,” in Edmund Tilney, The Flower of Friendship, ed. Valerie Wayne (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 5.
 John E. Booty, ed., The Book of Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book (Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2005), 297.
 The Taming of the Shrew, 3.2.158-165.