Critical Essays Major Symbols and Motifs


Explore the different symbols within William Shakespeare's comedic play, The Taming of the Shrew. Symbols are central to understanding The Taming of the Shrew as a play and identifying Shakespeare's social and political commentary.

Animals and Hunting

Petruchio also reflects the animal and hunting images begun in the Induction and continued throughout the play. His nature is base and much like an animal driven purely by his senses, Petruchio has very little regard for etiquette or respectability. He enjoys good food, good drink, and his knowledge of falconry and horses suggest the sportive hunter who is now on a quest for a mate and a large fortune. Petruchio is a straightforward man with a no-nonsense attitude. He is raucous and often threatens violence. If he were a woman, Petruchio would perhaps be defined as shrew himself.


The image of horses resounds throughout the play. They are often spirited animals of great value, but until their spirits have been broken and their natures tamed, they cannot take their place in an organized civilization. This image is often applied to women in this play to suggest the men's need to control and dominate them to make them useful to their male masters.