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Written by Michael, KNTR Kid Blogger

Hello!  Did you miss me?  Well, I’ve been searching the land to find more books!  For this book – or, should I say, play – in particular, I have not just been searching different places, but different time zones!

Today’s “book” is a Shakespeare classic – not as famous as Romeo and Juliet1 or Hamlet – but famous nonetheless: The Taming of the Shrew!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Michael, what in the world is a 13 year-old child doing with a book that you can’t even understand?”  Well, to be honest, I didn’t read it by myself.  This was a book that the whole class had to read together in class.

Did you know that Shakespeare contributed a lot to modern day English?  Well, he did!

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and a play-within-a-play.  The main story starts out with Christopher Sly, a drunken beggar, who gets kicked out of a bar and falls asleep on the streets.  A lord shows up after hunting, spots the beggar, and decides to practice2 on him, by making Sly think that he is a lord that has been sick and confined to bed for a long period of time.  The real lord gets everyone in on the act and even hires traveling actors to perform The Taming of the Shrew for “Lord” Sly.

Now, please bear with me, as I try to explain this crazy plot, which only makes sense to Shakespeare!

The play-within-a-play begins with Lucentio and his servant/best friend Tranio arriving in Padua, Italy to study.  They overhear a dispute between Gremio3, Hortensio4, Bianca5, Katherine6, and Baptista7.  Both Gremio and Hortensio want to marry Bianca, however, Baptista won’t let them.  He proclaims that until Katherine is married, Bianca won’t be wed off, but no one wants to marry Katherine because of her personality.  Because Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, he comes up with a plan to try to woo her: he will disguise himself as Cambio, Bianca’s philosophy tutor, while Tranio will disguise himself as Lucentio.

Are you with me so far?  Because it will only get more confusing with time.

Hortensio invites his friend Petruchio to his house, along with Petruchio’s servant Grumio8. Hortensio talks to Petruchio about marrying Katherine.  Petruchio doesn’t care about marrying Katherine but, he does care about the dowry he will receive once he marries her; so he agrees to marry Katherine.  Meanwhile, Hortensio disguises himself as Litio, Bianca’s music teacher.

Petruchio negotiates the dowry with Baptista.  They come to an agreement, and Petruchio is set to marry Katherine.  Katherine, however, is not happy about this, but eventually accepts the outcome.  This leaves Bianca free to marry.

While Lucentio (disguised as Cambio) teaches Bianca, he tells her of his true identity.  Meanwhile, Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) talks to Baptista and Gremio about marrying Bianca.  The reason why Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) is doing this is to act as a back-up plan in case Lucentio (disguised as Cambio) fails at woo-ing Bianca.  Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) and Gremio have a little fight to see which has more money, and Tranio wins.  However, Baptista wants Lucentio’s dad to confirm of all this money, so Tranio is in a pickle.

Petruchio and Katherine marry and return back to Petruchio’s house, where he claims that he will start taming Katherine the way that one would tame a falcon: he will starve her and deprive her of sleep.  Finally, she is tamed, and both of them ride back to Padua to attend the wedding of Bianca and Lucentio.

Lucentio finally woos Bianca, and they secretly marry before the “actual” wedding of Bianca and Tranio (disguised as Lucentio).  When everything unfolds, it turns out that Hortensio has married a rich widow.  At the banquet that was held, Petruchio claims that he has finally tamed Katherine, and he shows Baptista.  The end.

If you did not follow any of that, I blame myself for condensing the original play so poorly.

While we were reading the different acts, we were also following along with the movie The Taming of the Shrew starring Elizabeth Taylor.  I have to say, she did a really good job of being a shrew. The movie gave us a better understanding of what was actually happening.

I give this play a solid B (8.3/10).  It was really funny (if you understand it), and I felt that Shakespeare wrote Katherine really well … because we all know that one shrew in our lives.

FOOTNOTES:

1  The closest I’ll ever come to Romeo and Juliet until high school is the infamous West Side Story, which I am a major fan of.

2  To play a trick on

3  Bianca’s suitor

4  Bianca’s suitor

5  A beautiful, smart girl. Daughter of Baptista

6  An evil, nasty, mean girl; the shrew. Sister of Bianca, Daughter of Baptista

7  Bianca and Katherine’s father. He is very wealthy.

8  Not to be confused with Gremio

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Did you know that William Shakespeare died from eating pickled herrings and wine? Well, that is one theory, but we will never know for sure. To honor this belief, today’s recipe will be: pickled fish, or, as Alton Brown calls it, Rollmops.

Original Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/rollmops-recipe/index.html

ROLLMOPS (PICKLED FISH)

Ingredients

For the brine:
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 quart water

1 pound trout filets from small, 6 to 8 ounce whole fish, scaled, skin on, and cut into 16 to 20 (4 to 6-inches long by 1-inch wide) pieces

For the pickle:
2 cups water
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
8 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
6 whole black peppercorns
4 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 to 20 cornichon and/or pickled onion
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 medium onion, julienned

Directions

Place the salt and water into a 4-quart container and stir until the salt has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the trout filets, making sure they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, and red pepper flake in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid comes to a boil, approximately 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

Remove the trout from the brine and rinse thoroughly under cold running water for 1 minute. Submerge the filets in clean cold water and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Drain and rinse the filets. Pat dry. Lay the filets in a single layer, skin side down and brush each with mustard. Place a cornichon or a pickled onion on the filet. Roll up each filet and secure with 1 or 2 toothpicks. Alternate layers of rollmops and julienned onion in a glass jar or ceramic crock.

Pour on the chilled pickling mixture, cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours and up to 2 days. Drain and serve chilled with crusty bread.

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About Michael

Michael is an eighth grade student who loves to read and cook. That’s right, cook!  He joined Kids Need to Read because he thought that it would be a great opportunity to help everyone open up to literacy. “When you read, you read.  When you watch TV, you watch TV.  When you create a story, you open your mind.” — Michael

Comments

3 Responses to “Michael’s Book Bytes: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW by William Shakespeare”

  1. Denise Gary on March 17th, 2010 5:30 pm

    Michael, your blog is awesome!

  2. KoF on March 21st, 2010 10:53 am

    That was a lot of fun to read, Michael! That’s probably the closest to reading the play I’ll ever come. I think I’ll just watch the movie. If I like pickled fish I’d try your recipe. Good job!

  3. Ms. V. Liz on March 30th, 2011 12:30 pm

    Your blog was refreshing and interesting to read. I’ll share it with my students (fifth graders at PS008 in NYC).

    Ms. V. Liz

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