What IS a Shrew, Anyway?

a woodcut of a shrew, published in 1658

“It is a ravening beast, feigning itself gentle and tame, but being touched it biteth deep, and poisoneth deadly. It beareth a cruel mind, desiring to hurt anything, neither is there any creature it loveth.”

So wrote Edward Topsell about the European common shrew in his History of Four-footed Beasts, 1607. The above etching was the illustration that accompanied the definition. By Shakespeare’s day, a person who was called a “shrew” was most often a woman (the term was applied to both sexes in the previous generation), and many of the characters in Shakespeare’s play think of Katherina in the terms described later by Topsell.


About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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