SHAKESPEARE ALOUD

Shrew Induction 1 – first scene of the play, in Lenox, MA

 

Beautiful day here for a great first scene.  I’ve always thought the Induction was wonderful.  I played the Lord in a college production which was tremendous fun, and now going back to this text I find these two Induction scenes very theatrical with lots of great moments, and it acts almost like the beginning of a parable or morality play.  There’s some great poetry here to boot.

Every line in this scene is worthy, and especially at the beginning, Shakespeare is presenting action and character hand in hand right off the bat.

The Lord enters with “Wind horns” which means hunting horns.  WS often signals the entrance of a hunting party with horns.  ‘Wind’ horns appear also to accompany Theseus’ entrance in Midsummer, but there is no difference between ‘wind horns’ and typical crescent-shaped hunting horns.

The Lord’s first speech here is so robust.  Let’s take a little peak how Shakespeare is doing this:

 

15 Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my houds:

Breathe Merriman – the poor cur is embossed –

And couple Clowder with the deep-mouthed brach.

Sawst thou not, boy, how Silver made it good

At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault?

I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.

 

His first two lines begin with a trochee.  Really to me it sounds like a dactyl – one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed – as a triplet (‘Huntsman I’) followed by three trochees.  Very commanding and merry way to start off a character.  In the next line, ‘Breathe’ really gets a whole foot of poetry on it’s own, followed by another dactyl and three regular iambs.  He’s commanding I think for Merriman to be coupled (as in tied) with Clowder, and then talks about another of his dogs, Silver.  So right off the bat we have a scene with a man and THREE dogs (two more, Echo and Belman are mentioned next, bringing the tally to five).  And his admiring them and clearly energized by his active day on the hunt.  The speech ends after all of these boisterous accents with the completely regular line, “I would not lose that dog for twenty pound.” which is a very pleasing button.  It also begins monosyllabically and lands on ‘twenty’ which sticks out by comparison for added effect – 20 pounds in Shakespeare’s day was the annual salary for a schoolmaster, for example.

But the next line, after all this regularity, is not only pleasingly and interestingly regular in meter, it’s also gorgeously constructed: “And couple Clowder with the deep-mouthed brach.”  Mouthed is a long ‘ed’

In the beautiful speech “Even as a flattering dream or worthless fancy” when the Lord gives command for the trick to be played on Christopher Sly, we get this couplet:

48 Procure me music ready when he wakes

To make a dulcet and a heavenly sound;

‘Dulcet’ means sweet, and heavenly indicates the music of the spheres – heavenly harmony.

After line 73 there’s another stage directions for trumpets to sound, followed by the Lord’s

Sirrah, go see what trumpet ’tis that sounds

That’s 5 lines (including stage directions) that mention music in the first 75 lines of the play.

The trumpet is for the players who then enter – these are the guys that are to perform Taming of the Shrew.

Great scene.

BB

 

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