The character of GREMIO in “The Taming of the Shrew”


GREMIO is not a main character in Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew” but he is also important to the development of the actions in the play, like every character in Shakespearean comedies.


He speaks fifty-eight times in the play and most of his interventions can be located in Act I (24 times). This can be due to the fact that the author introduces most of the characters in the first act. However, Gremio’s most important lines can be found in Act III – Scene 2 (telling Petruchio and Katharina’s wedding to Tranio). He also speaks in Act II – Scene 1 and Act V.


Gremio is described at the beginning of Act I as an old and foolish gentleman of Padua who is a suitor to Bianca (Baptista’s younger daughter). At this point, Gremio and another gentleman of Padua called Hortensio are rivals; both men compete for Bianca’s affection. Nonetheless, Gremio and Hortensio become friends because they have to seek a husband for Katharina and Bianca rejects both of them afterwards. An example of this comradeship can be seen when they both together exit from stage in Act I – Scene 1.


As mentioned before, as Baptista decides that his younger daughter will not marry until her older sister Katharina marries, this old father tells Gremio and Cuadro de texto: GREMIO (The Taming of the Shrew)
Shakespeare & Company 2005.
Photo by Kevin Sprague

Hortensio that any of them can court and marry Katharina or look for a husband for her if they want to get Bianca. Gremio does not like this idea because Katharina’s temper is rather volatile. As far as Katharina’s temper and behaviour are concerned, Gremio defines the girl as “the devil’s dam”, “this fiend of hell” or being “too rough for him”. When Gremio addresses or refers to Katharina, he is quite disrespectful, ironical and rude1.


In order to achieve his aim of getting nearer to Bianca, Gremio draws up a plan: to hire a Latin tutor for Bianca as her father asked for, but Gremio’s foolishness becomes evident here because he hires Lucentio, who is also in love with Bianca and pretends to be a teacher called Cambio. Gremio does not become aware of Lucentio’s feelings for Bianca and makes his rival’s way easier. Lucentio is not the only person who is aware of Gremio’s foolishness but also Grumio (Petruchio’s servant)2.


Another significant aspect of Gremio’s character is the ridiculous jealousy3 that he shows when Tranio pretends to be a new suitor to Bianca called Lucentio. It is worth emphasizing Gremio’s impatience4 when trying to get closer to Bianca before anyone else, but this impatience for getting Bianca can be seen as a simple whim since Gremio is a wealthy gentleman5 and he probably thinks he can get whatever he desires. The most important evidence of his fortune is located at the end of the second act, in which Gremio lists what he can assure Bianca while he fights against Tranio.


However, he seems to be in true love with Bianca because he does not stop making attempts to get her and stays next to Baptista while sucking up to him6 until almost the end of the play. Moreover, he maintains a constant fight against Tranio7 because, as mentioned before, he is jealous of him. Finally, Gremio desists from his efforts when he hears of Lucentio and Bianca’s marriage. At the end, being faithful to his role of meddling neighbour8, he joins the rest of the people in a banquet in Lucentio’s house in order to celebrate the weddings of Baptista’s daughters9.




(1)          I, 1, 105: “You may go to the devil’s dam; your gifts are so good here’s none will hold you.”

                              I, 1, 123: I  say  a  devil. Think’st  thou, Hortensio, though  her father be very rich, any man is so very a fool to be married to hell?

               I, 2, 192: “O Sir, such a life with such a wife were strange! But if you have a stomach, to’t o’ God’s name; you shall have me assisting you in all. But will

                              you woo this wild-cat?


(2)          I, 2, 159: “O this woodcock! What an ass it is!”


(3)          I, 2, 222: “Hark you sir, you mean not her to…”

                              I, 2, 229: “No; if without more words you will get you hence.”

                              I, 2, 231: “But so is not she.”

                              I, 2, 232: “For this reason, if you’ll know, that she’s the choice love of Signior Gremio.”

                              I, 2, 245: “What, this gentleman will out-talk us all!”


(4)          II, 1, 71: “Saving your tale, Petruchio, I pray, let us that are poor petitioners speak too. Bacare! You are marvellous forward.”

                              II, 1, 325: “But now, Baptista, to your younger daughter: Now is the day we long have looked for: I am your neighbour, and was suitor first.”


(5)          I, 2, 176: “And that his bags shall prove.”

                              II, 1, 16: “O, then, belike you fancy riches more: You will have Gremio to keep you fair.”

                              II, 1, 339: “First, as   you   know, my   house   within   the  city   is   richly   furnished  with  plate  and  gold; basins  and  ewers, to  lave  her dainty hands;

my hangings all of Tyrian tapestry; in ivory coffers I have stuft my crowns; in  cypress  chests  my  arras-counterpoints, costly apparel, tents,

and canopies, fine linen, Turkey cushions bost with pearl, valance of Venice gold in needlework; pewter and  brass, and  all  things  that  belong

 to house  or housekeeping: then, at my farm I have a hundred milch-kine to the pail, six  score  fat  oxen  standing in my  stalls; and  all  things

 answerable  to  this portion. Myself am struck in years, I must confess; and if I die to-morrow, this is hers, if whilst I live she will be only mine.”

                              II, 1, 366: “My land amounts but to so much in all: that she shall have: besides an argosy that now  is lying in Marseilles’ road…”


(6)          III, 2, 215: “Ay, marry, sir, now it begins to work.”

                              V, 1, 90: “Take heed, Signior Baptista, lest you be cony-catcht in this business: I dare swear this is the right Vincentio.”

                              V, 1, 108: “Here’s packing, with a witness, to deceive us all!”

                              V, 1, 111: “Why, tell me, is not this my Cambio?”

                              V, 2, 38: “How likes Gremio these quick-witted folks?”

                              V, 2, 39: “Believe me, sir, they butt together well.”


(7)          II, 1, 330: “Youngling, thou canst not love so dear as I.”

                              II, 1, 331: “Greybeard, thy love doth freeze.”

                              II, 1, 331: “But thine doth fry. Skipper, stand back: ‘tis age that nourisheth.”

                              II, 1, 333: “But youth in ladies’ eyes that flourisheth.”

                              II, 1, 334: “Content you, gentlemen: I will compound this strife: ‘Tis deeds must win the prize; and  he, of both, that can assure my daughter greatest

dower shall have Bianca’s love…”

                              II, 1, 364: “What, have I pincht you, Signior Gremio?”

                              II, 1, 369: “What, have I choked you with an argosy?”

                              II, 1, 378: “…Gremio is out-vied.”

                              II, 1, 392: “…Now I fear thee not: Sirrah young gamester, your father were a fool to give thee all, and in his waning age set foot under thy table: tut, a toy!

An old  Italian  fox  is  not  so kind, my boy.”


(8)          IV, 4, 51: “Not  in  my  house,  Lucentio; for,  you know,  pitchers have  ears, and  I  have  many servants: besides, old Gremio is hearkening still; and

happily we might be interrupted.”

                              V, 1, 6: “I marvel Cambio comes not all this while.”

                              V, 1, 13: “They’re busy within; you were best knock louder.”

                              V, 1, 87: “Stay, officer: he shall not go to prison.”

                              V, 1, 88: “Talk not, Signior Gremio: I say he shall go to prison.”

                              V, 1, 90: “Take heed, Signior Baptista, lest you be cony-catcht in this business: I dare swear this is the right Vincentio.”

                              V, 1, 93: “Swear, if thou darest.”

                              V, 1, 94: “Nay, I dare not swear it.”

                              V, 1, 95: “Then thou wert best say that I am not Lucentio.”

                              V, 1, 96: “Yes, I know thee to be Signior Lucentio.”


(9)              V, 1, 128: My  cake  is  dough: but  I’ll  in among the rest; out of hope of all, but my share of the feast.”







All the quotations have been taken from “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”, Wordsworth Editions (1999). Pages 329-358: “The Taming of the Shrew”.


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