‘A Mad-Cap Ruffian and a Swearing Jack’: Braggart Courtship from <i>Miles Gloriosus</i> to <i>The Taming of the Shrew</i>
There is a generic skeleton in Petruchio’s closet. By comparing his outlandish behaviour in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (ca 1592-94) to that of Pyrgopolinices in Plautus’s Miles Gloriosus (ca 200 BC), as well to that of English variants of the type found in Udall, Lyly, and Peele, I re-situate Petruchio as a braggart soldier. I also reconstruct a largely forgotten comic subgenre, braggart courtship, with distinctive poetic styles, subsidiary characters, narrative events, and thematic functions. Katherina’s marriage to a stranger who boasts of his abilities and bullies social inferiors raises key questions: What were the comic contexts and cultural valences of a match between a braggart and a shrew?
Contributors to Early Theatre retain full copyright to their content. All published authors are required to grant a limited exclusive license to the journal. According to the terms of this license, authors agree that for one year following publication in Early Theatre, they will not publish their submission elsewhere in the same form, in any language, without the consent of the journal, and without acknowledgment of its initial publication in the journal thereafter.