The Theme of Money in The Taming of the Shrew

An annotated list of relevant passages.

Induction, Scene 1
The Induction of the play opens with an angry quarrel between the hostess of a tavern and a "Beggar," Christophero Sly. The hostess exclaims "You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?" Sly replies that he won't pay a penny and falls into a drunken sleep.

In the same scene a passing Lord decides that it would be an excellent jest to persuade Sly that he is really a rich and powerful lord, and not a "poor and loathsome beggar."
Induction, Scene 2
In the second scene of the Induction, the Lord has his servants treat Sly as a wealthy lord, but Sly insists that he is only himself, a man who drinks nothing but cheap ale, has just one suit of clothes, and owes "Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot" a bar tab of "fourteen pence." However, the servants keep trying to entice him into the delusion that he is a wealthy lord by offering him all the rich accouterments that such a man would have: music, a soft bed, horses with harness studded with gold and pearl, erotic paintings, and more. None of this seems to have much effect on Sly, but when the servants say that he has a wife, "the fairest creature in the world," Sly changes his mind and declares that he is "a lord indeed."
Act 1, Scene 1
Gremio and Hortensio, an old fool and a young one, both want to win and wed Baptista's beautiful blonde daughter, Bianca, but Baptista has decreed that Bianca may not be wooed until a husband has been found for his oldest daughter, the shrewish Katherina. Therefore Gremio and Hortensio decide that they must find a husband for Katherina, but they have a little disagreement about the role that wealth will play in their quest. Gremio, the old fool, exclaims, "Thinkest thou, Hortensio, though her father be very rich, any man is so very a fool to be married to hell?" Hortensio, the young fool, is sure he knows better than Gremio and replies that "there be good fellows in the world, an a man could light on them, would take her with all faults, and money enough."
Act 1, Scene 2
Petruchio drops in on his old friend Hortensio, who asks, "what happy gale / Blows you to Padua here from old Verona?" Petruchio answers, "Such wind as scatters young men through the world, / To seek their fortunes farther than at home / Where small experience grows." A moment later Petruchio adds a few words which emphasize that money is not his motivation: "Crowns in my purse I have and goods at home, / And so am come abroad to see the world."

Despite what Petruchio has just said, Hortensio sticks to his idea that there must be somebody who will marry Katherina for money, so his pitch to Petruchio is that she is "shrewd" and "ill-favor'd," but "very rich."

Petruchio's reply to Hortensio's pitch is, I believe, mocking. He now says that "wealth is burden of my wooing dance," and that if there is enough money involved, he will marry any woman, no matter how old, foul, or shrewish. And Grumio, Petruchio's servant and sidekick, chimes in with the claim that for enough money Petruchio will marry not only any woman, but any thing: "Why give him gold enough and marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . . ."

Hortensio understands that everyone's joking, but he still really wants to get Katherina married off, so he continues with his pitch, saying that Katharina is young, beautiful, properly educated, and rich, with only the fault of shrewishness, which is so bad that Hortensio himself "would not wed her for a mine of gold." To this, Petruchio replies "thou know'st not gold's effect," and then goes on to boast that he will "board her," no matter if she roar like thunder.

Soon these three are joined by old Gremio. Hortensio informs his old rival in love, Gremio, that he has found a willing wooer of Katherina, and that he has promised that the two of them will pay for whatever expenses Petruchio incurs in his pursuit of Katherina's hand in marriage; he says, "I promised we would be contributors / And bear his charge of wooing, whatsoe'er." Later in the scene Tranio, disguised as Lucentio, appears, saying that he too wants to woo Bianca, and that he too will join in Hortensio and Gremio's agreement to pay off Petruchio for getting Katharina out of the way. Hortensio's words to supposed Lucentio about this are "And since you do profess to be a suitor, / You must, as we do, gratify this gentleman, / To whom we all rest generally beholding." Thus we see that all of the suitors of Bianca agree that the man who woos the terrible shrew Katherina deserves to be paid for his troubles.
Act 2, Scene 1
Katharina, jealous of her younger sister's popularity, ties up Bianca and questions her about who she loves best. Bianca says that she has not "yet beheld that special face / Which I could fancy more than any other." Naturally, because she is the older sister, Katharina assumes that her younger sister is a lying little hypocrite and accuses her of having her eye on Hortensio. Bianca replies that if Katharina fancies Hortensio, Bianca will plead her case to him. Of course, this only enrages Katharine, who then says, "O then, belike, you fancy riches more: / You will have Gremio to keep you fair." At this, Bianca decides that Katharina is only making a cruel joke. She doesn't come out and say it, but Bianca, a teenager, must assume that there isn't enough money in the world to persuade her to marry Gremio, who is quite an old man.

Later in the scene, Petruchio quickly gets down to the business of arranging the terms of his marriage to Katherina. As soon as he gets a chance he asks Baptista, Katharina's dad, what dowry will come with Katharina. Baptista's answer shows that he is very rich, and perhaps also very desperate to get Katharina off his hands: "After my death the one half of my lands, / And in possession twenty thousand crowns." Those are very generous terms, but Petruchio is equally generous; for his part of the marriage bargain he pledges all of his large estate. And with that, Petruchio is done discussing money.

In the final episode of the scene, after Katherina's engagement to Petruchio has been accomplished, the question of who will wed Bianca is settled. At first old Gremio gets into a dispute with young "Lucentio" (actually Tranio in disguise) about who loves Bianca best, but Baptista soon makes it clear that wealth, not love, will be the deciding factor. He declares, "he of both / That can assure my daughter greatest dower / Shall have my Bianca's love." Baptista must believe that he is doing his daughter a favor by promising her to the wealthiest suitor, and it doesn't occur to him that his daughter might object. Later we will see that he doesn't know Bianca very well.
Act 3, Scene 2
After the wedding of Petruchio and Katharina, Petruchio shocks everyone by telling them that he and Katharina cannot stay for the wedding feast. Katharina promptly declares that she is going to stay, whether or not Petruchio does. Petruchio's response is to pretend to believe that the others are trying to steal her from him and warns everyone off:
I will be master of what is mine 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 any thing;
And here she stands, touch her whoever dare;
I'll bring mine action on the proudest he
That stops my way in Padua
Act 4, Scene 2
Seeing Bianca and Lucentio "kiss and court," Hortensio gives up his pursuit of Bianca and consoles himself by deciding that "I will be married to a wealthy widow, / Ere three days pass, which hath as long loved me / As I have loved this proud disdainful [Bianca]." When he was in love, Hortensio didn't think about money, but now he does, at least a little.

Later in the scene Tranio, still pretending to be Lucentio, recruits a Pedant to pretend to be Lucentio's father, Vincentio, so that he can "pass assurance of a dower in marriage / 'Twixt me and one Baptista's daughter here." Thus we are reminded that though Tranio, as Lucentio, won the auction for Bianca, the contract still has to be signed and sealed.
Act 4, Scene 3
At his house Petruchio teases his bride Katharina with food that she never gets to eat, and a rich cap and gown which she never gets to wear. Then, as they are preparing to go to her father's house, he offers a bit of philosophy:
Well, come, my Kate; we will unto your father's
Even in these honest mean habiliments:
Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor;
For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich . . . .
Act 4, Scene 4
Tranio's plot is successful. Disguised as Lucentio, he has won the auction for Bianca and then gotten a pedant to play the part of Lucentio's dad. In this scene he, still disguised as Lucentio, introduces Baptista to his "father" (the pedant in disguise), and pleads, "I pray you stand good father to me now, / Give me Bianca for my patrimony." The plea is successful, but as the two old men go off to draw up the contract for Bianca's dowry, we learn that there is more to Tranio's plot. He has arranged for the priest of a local church to be on call so that Lucentio (the real one) and Bianca can elope. That way, even if Baptista discovers that he has been duped, there will be nothing much he can do about it.
Act 5, Scene 1
When Vincentio, Lucentio's very wealthy father, arrives at Lucentio's place in Paudua, and knocks at the door, someone tells him that Lucentio is within, but unavailable. However, Vincentio expects that his son, a college student, will always give money a warm welcome, and so he says, "What if a man bring him a hundred pound or two, to make merry withal?"
Act 5, Scene 2
At the end of the play, during the celebration of the three weddings, only one last question remains: who has the best marriage? Lucentio and Bianca clearly married for love; otherwise, why would they risk the wrath of their parents by eloping? Hortensio and his willing widow married for the very common reason that they had both run out of other options. But what about Katharina and Petruchio? The general opinion seems to be that they will have a rough time. This is the way Baptista puts it: "Now, in good sadness, son Petruchio, / I think thou hast the veriest shrew of all." Petruchio's response is to bet money that his father-in-law is wrong. He says,
Well, I say no: and therefore for assurance
Let's each one send unto his wife;
And he whose wife is most obedient
To come at first when he doth send for her,
Shall win the wager which we will propose.
Katharina comes when called, and so, to the surprise of everyone except himself, Petruchio wins the wager. Baptista is so overjoyed at the transformation of his shrewish daughter that he adds another twenty thousand crowns to Katharina's dowry; his gift is "Another dowry to another daughter, / For she is changed, as she had never been."

Lucentio, who lost the bet, even though he was confident that he would win, complains to Bianca that she has cost him "an hundred crowns since supper-time," but she replies, "The more fool you, for laying on my duty."

A bit later in the scene, when Katharina is delivering a long lesson to the other two wives about "What duty they do owe their lords and husbands," she uses monetary terms in making the point that wives owe a debt of gratitude to their husbands. She says that men undergo "painful labor both by sea and land" so that their wives may be safe at home, and that such a husband "craves no other tribute at thy hands / But love, fair looks and true obedience; / Too little payment for so great a debt."