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Tranio Transformed | Early Modern and Open Access

By April 12, 2015 No Comments

This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Sonya L. Brockman, “Tranio Transformed: Social Anxieties and Social Metamorphosis in The Taming of the Shrew,” Journal of Early Modern Studies 4 (2015): 213-230.


The article discusses Elizabethan anxieties about the increasing fluidity of social status through an examination of the servant Tranio in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It argues that Tranio’s informed and willing participation in this social performance embodies the anxieties about social mobility held by members of the Elizabethan elite. In contrast to other figures of social metamorphosis in the play, Tranio’s social transformation is temporary, even though, like Christopher Sly, he is transformed into a gentleman at the behest of his Lord. He must return to his servile status in the final act, however, not only because he can so successfully perform the role of master, but because he knowingly participates in his own social metamorphosis. The article suggests, in conclusion, that it is the servant’s knowledge of his own performative power that makes him a threat in Elizabethan society.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

More posts by Lindsay

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