portrait of William Shakespeare

Standard readability measures (applied on Shakespeare’s plays)


One of my long-term side projects is to automate education as much as possible based on recent advances in natural language processing and educational data mining (and other stats/cs techniques). Believe it or not, I had this project in mind since early secondary school at a time I was just starting to learn C programming (thanks to Lucas Hosseini). Of course, it was too advanced for me at the time for any meaningful attempt. I intend to develop an adaptative AI which can deliver a training more relevant (for the job market) than Ivy League universities, from scratch, at a tiny fraction of the cost. The target audience would be motivated people from all around the world, but especially valuable to those who cannot access high quality education easily, provided they have an unlimited access to internet. The focus will be to teach, from scratch, advanced technical know-how highly valuable on the job market (e.g. niche but sought-out programming languages, collecting, structuring and selling valuable data, designing robust APIs, automation of tasks, engineering) which does not require accreditations, certifications or endorsement from government or corporate bodies (exit medicine and law, for example).

I have split this vast programme into many sub-tasks.

One such task I want to touch upon in this blog is to quantitatively measure how difficult a text (not necessarily in English) is to understand. We should not assume perfect mastery of a teaching-material language from day 1 (most likely English, but could also be Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French, and others). If a reliable measure is available, then one would be able to assess the current understanding level of the user-student, and increase the difficulty progressively.

Such readability metrics have existed for long: For example, the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests are readability tests designed to indicate how difficult a passage in English is to understand, developed under contract to the U.S. Navy in 1975, and used by the Army for assessing the difficulty of technical manuals. Since then, many U.S. states require that automobile insurance policies must be written at no higher than a ninth-grade level (14–15 years of age) of reading difficulty, as measured by the Flesch–Kincaid formula.

Despite its importance, the formula is extremely coarse: It only involves the total number of words, sentences, and syllables.

Wikipedia gives an example highlighting one of its major weaknesses: The pangram “Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz.” obtains the top reading ease score despite its obscure words.

Besides that, the formula does not take care into account the background of the reader.

In the code snippet below, we compare several other measures. Except for the Dale-Chall readability formula which is using a dictionary of words familiar to fourth-grade students, all the other measures are simple formulas of the number of sentences, words, syllables, or letters, and their ratios. Those are all very correlated.

In an era of machine learning and extreme customization (think recommender systems everywhere), is there anything better than that?!

I would like that a readability measure takes into account:

  • the background information of the reader (if available):
    • native language vs. target language
    • (un)familiarity with certain fields
  • the text layout,
  • the syntaxic and semantic content of the text,
  • the relative reading difficulty with respect to similar content,
  • language mistakes (from spelling to grammar and tenses)
  • ambiguity (polysemy, irony, puns and other word plays)

Please, don’t hesitate to reach out if you are aware of some interesting research or advances in this space!

tl;dr In this blog, we apply the basic readability measures on Shakespeare’s plays, and we quickly look at the results. Though not totally stupid, we are far from satisfied with the outcome. Any better measures out there?

import wget
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
from tqdm import tqdm
import seaborn as sns
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from readability import Readability
url = "https://storage.googleapis.com/download.tensorflow.org/data/shakespeare.txt"
filename = wget.download(url)

with open(filename, 'r') as f:
    text = f.read()
100% [......................................................] 1115394 / 1115394

chunk_size = 15000
nb_chunks = len(text) // chunk_size
count = 0

metrics = []

for count in tqdm(range(nb_chunks)):
    chunk = text[(count * chunk_size):((count + 1) * chunk_size)]
    r = Readability(chunk)
        fk = r.flesch_kincaid()
        f  = r.flesch()
        dc = r.dale_chall()
        ari = r.ari()
        cl = r.coleman_liau()
        gf = r.gunning_fog()
        s = r.smog(all_sentences=True)
        sp = r.spache()
        lw = r.linsear_write()
                        f.score / 10,
        print(count, 'was not processed correctly.')
100%|███████████████████████████████████████████| 74/74 [00:04<00:00, 16.72it/s]
metrics = pd.DataFrame(metrics,
    columns=['fk', 'f', 'dc', 'ari', 'cl', 'gf', 's', 'sp', 'lw'])
metrics.plot(); plt.show()

estimated readability on chunk of plays

fk f dc ari cl gf s sp lw
fk 1.000000 -0.917972 0.289547 0.976992 0.798314 0.977999 0.750875 0.856090 0.969408
f -0.917972 1.000000 -0.298893 -0.845758 -0.834791 -0.850769 -0.886226 -0.688791 -0.816980
dc 0.289547 -0.298893 1.000000 0.336319 0.437130 0.256406 0.019979 0.620573 0.202646
ari 0.976992 -0.845758 0.336319 1.000000 0.837691 0.967135 0.638056 0.910693 0.960260
cl 0.798314 -0.834791 0.437130 0.837691 1.000000 0.742851 0.632987 0.743609 0.693248
gf 0.977999 -0.850769 0.256406 0.967135 0.742851 1.000000 0.701606 0.857675 0.974974
s 0.750875 -0.886226 0.019979 0.638056 0.632987 0.701606 1.000000 0.399817 0.677077
sp 0.856090 -0.688791 0.620573 0.910693 0.743609 0.857675 0.399817 1.000000 0.841794
lw 0.969408 -0.816980 0.202646 0.960260 0.693248 0.974974 0.677077 0.841794 1.000000
<seaborn.matrix.ClusterGrid at 0x17307d2b0>

correlation between the readability measures

metrics.hist(); plt.show()

distribution of the readability measures across the corpus

readability_ranking = metrics.rank(axis=0)

most_complex = readability_ranking[
    readability_ranking == len(metrics)].dropna(how='all')

fk f dc ari cl gf s sp lw
16 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN 74.0 NaN NaN
18 NaN NaN 74.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN
21 NaN NaN NaN NaN 74.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN
22 74.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN 74.0 NaN
23 NaN NaN NaN 74.0 NaN 74.0 NaN NaN NaN
28 NaN 74.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN

Richard II (21, 22, 23) and Richard III (16, 18) seem the most complex plays to read.

I bought Richard III in secondary school to improve my English level; I’m not sure I read it cover to cover! But I remember clearly struggling following the flow of the play.

For your entertainment, a hard-to-read bit (according to the readability measures):

idx = 22
print(text[(idx * chunk_size):((idx + 1) * chunk_size)])
s arrival here in arms:
Ask him his name and orderly proceed
To swear him in the justice of his cause.

Lord Marshal:
In God's name and the king's, say who thou art
And why thou comest thus knightly clad in arms,
Against what man thou comest, and what thy quarrel:
Speak truly, on thy knighthood and thy oath;
As so defend thee heaven and thy valour!

My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk;
Who hither come engaged by my oath--
Which God defend a knight should violate!--
Both to defend my loyalty and truth
To God, my king and my succeeding issue,
Against the Duke of Hereford that appeals me
And, by the grace of God and this mine arm,
To prove him, in defending of myself,
A traitor to my God, my king, and me:
And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!

Marshal, ask yonder knight in arms,
Both who he is and why he cometh hither
Thus plated in habiliments of war,
And formally, according to our law,
Depose him in the justice of his cause.

Lord Marshal:
What is thy name? and wherefore comest thou hither,
Before King Richard in his royal lists?
Against whom comest thou? and what's thy quarrel?
Speak like a true knight, so defend thee heaven!

Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby
Am I; who ready here do stand in arms,
To prove, by God's grace and my body's valour,
In lists, on Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,
That he is a traitor, foul and dangerous,
To God of heaven, King Richard and to me;
And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!

Lord Marshal:
On pain of death, no person be so bold
Or daring-hardy as to touch the lists,
Except the marshal and such officers
Appointed to direct these fair designs.

Lord marshal, let me kiss my sovereign's hand,
And bow my knee before his majesty:
For Mowbray and myself are like two men
That vow a long and weary pilgrimage;
Then let us take a ceremonious leave
And loving farewell of our several friends.

Lord Marshal:
The appellant in all duty greets your highness,
And craves to kiss your hand and take his leave.

We will descend and fold him in our arms.
Cousin of Hereford, as thy cause is right,
So be thy fortune in this royal fight!
Farewell, my blood; which if to-day thou shed,
Lament we may, but not revenge thee dead.

O let no noble eye profane a tear
For me, if I be gored with Mowbray's spear:
As confident as is the falcon's flight
Against a bird, do I with Mowbray fight.
My loving lord, I take my leave of you;
Of you, my noble cousin, Lord Aumerle;
Not sick, although I have to do with death,
But lusty, young, and cheerly drawing breath.
Lo, as at English feasts, so I regreet
The daintiest last, to make the end most sweet:
O thou, the earthly author of my blood,
Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate,
Doth with a twofold vigour lift me up
To reach at victory above my head,
Add proof unto mine armour with thy prayers;
And with thy blessings steel my lance's point,
That it may enter Mowbray's waxen coat,
And furbish new the name of John a Gaunt,
Even in the lusty havior of his son.

God in thy good cause make thee prosperous!
Be swift like lightning in the execution;
And let thy blows, doubly redoubled,
Fall like amazing thunder on the casque
Of thy adverse pernicious enemy:
Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant and live.

Mine innocency and Saint George to thrive!

However God or fortune cast my lot,
There lives or dies, true to King Richard's throne,
A loyal, just and upright gentleman:
Never did captive with a freer heart
Cast off his chains of bondage and embrace
His golden uncontroll'd enfranchisement,
More than my dancing soul doth celebrate
This feast of battle with mine adversary.
Most mighty liege, and my companion peers,
Take from my mouth the wish of happy years:
As gentle and as jocund as to jest
Go I to fight: truth hath a quiet breast.

Farewell, my lord: securely I espy
Virtue with valour couched in thine eye.
Order the trial, marshal, and begin.

Lord Marshal:
Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby,
Receive thy lance; and God defend the right!

Strong as a tower in hope, I cry amen.

Lord Marshal:
Go bear this lance to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk.

First Herald:
Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby,
Stands here for God, his sovereign and himself,
On pain to be found false and recreant,
To prove the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray,
A traitor to his God, his king and him;
And dares him to set forward to the fight.

Second Herald:
Here standeth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,
On pain to be found false and recreant,
Both to defend himself and to approve
Henry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,
To God, his sovereign and to him disloyal;
Courageously and with a free desire
Attending but the signal to begin.

Lord Marshal:
Sound, trumpets; and set forward, combatants.
Stay, the king hath thrown his warder down.

Let them lay by their helmets and their spears,
And both return back to their chairs again:
Withdraw with us: and let the trumpets sound
While we return these dukes what we decree.
Draw near,
And list what with our council we have done.
For that our kingdom's earth should not be soil'd
With that dear blood which it hath fostered;
And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect
Of civil wounds plough'd up with neighbours' sword;
And for we think the eagle-winged pride
Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
With rival-hating envy, set on you
To wake our peace, which in our country's cradle
Draws the sweet infant breath of gentle sleep;
Which so roused up with boisterous untuned drums,
With harsh resounding trumpets' dreadful bray,
And grating shock of wrathful iron arms,
Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace
And make us wade even in our kindred's blood,
Therefore, we banish you our territories:
You, cousin Hereford, upon pain of life,
Till twice five summers have enrich'd our fields
Shall not regreet our fair dominions,
But tread the stranger paths of banishment.

Your will be done: this must my comfort be,
Sun that warms you here shall shine on me;
And those his golden beams to you here lent
Shall point on me and gild my banishment.

Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom,
Which I with some unwillingness pronounce:
The sly slow hours shall not determinate
The dateless limit of thy dear exile;
The hopeless word of 'never to return'
Breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.

A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,
And all unlook'd for from your highness' mouth:
A dearer merit, not so deep a maim
As to be cast forth in the common air,
Have I deserved at your highness' hands.
The language I have learn'd these forty years,
My native English, now I must forego:
And now my tongue's use is to me no more
Than an unstringed viol or a harp,
Or like a cunning instrument cased up,
Or, being open, put into his hands
That knows no touch to tune the harmony:
Within my mouth you have engaol'd my tongue,
Doubly portcullis'd with my teeth and lips;
And dull unfeeling barren ignorance
Is made my gaoler to attend on me.
I am too old to fawn upon a nurse,
Too far in years to be a pupil now:
What is thy sentence then but speechless death,
Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?

It boots thee not to be compassionate:
After our sentence plaining comes too late.

Then thus I turn me from my country's light,
To dwell in solemn shades of endless night.

Return again, and take an oath with thee.
Lay on our royal sword your banish'd hands;
Swear by the duty that you owe to God--
Our part therein we banish with yourselves--
To keep the oath that we administer:
You never shall, so help you truth and God!
Embrace each other's love in banishment;
Nor never look upon each other's face;
Nor never write, regreet, nor reconcile
This louring tempest of your home-bred hate;
Nor never by advised purpose meet
To plot, contrive, or complot any ill
'Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land.

I swear.

And I, to keep all this.

Norfolk, so far as to mine enemy:--
By this time, had the king permitted us,
One of our souls had wander'd in the air.
Banish'd this frail sepulchre of our flesh,
As now our flesh is banish'd from this land:
Confess thy treasons ere thou fly the realm;
Since thou hast far to go, bear not along
The clogging burthen of a guilty soul.

No, Bolingbroke: if ever I were traitor,
My name be blotted from the book of life,
And I from heaven banish'd as from hence!
But what thou art, God, thou, and I do know;
And all too soon, I fear, the king shall rue.
Farewell, my liege. Now no way can I stray;
Save back to England, all the world's my way.

Uncle, even in the glasses of thine eyes
I see thy grieved heart: thy sad aspect
Hath from the number of his banish'd years
Pluck'd four away.
Six frozen winter spent,
Return with welcome home from banishment.

How long a time lies in one little word!
Four lagging winters and four wanton springs
End in a word: such is the breath of kings.

I thank my liege, that in regard of me
He shortens four years of my son's exile:
But little vantage shall I reap thereby;
For, ere the six years that he hath to spend
Can change their moons and bring their times about
My oil-dried lamp and time-bewasted light
Shall be extinct with age and endless night;
My inch of taper will be burnt and done,
And blindfold death not let me see my son.

Why uncle, thou hast many years to live.

But not a minute, king, that thou canst give:
Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow;
Thou canst help time to furrow me with age,
But stop no wrinkle in his pilgrimage;
Thy word is current with him for my death,
But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.

Thy son is banish'd upon good advice,
Whereto thy tongue a party-verdict gave:
Why at our justice seem'st thou then to lour?

Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.
You urged me as a judge; but I had rather
You would have bid me argue like a father.
O, had it been a stranger, not my child,
To smooth his fault I should have been more mild:
A partial slander sought I to avoid,
And in the sentence my own life destroy'd.
Alas, I look'd when some of you should say,
I was too strict to make mine own away;
But you gave leave to my unwilling tongue
Against my will to do myself this wrong.

Cousin, farewell; and, uncle, bid him so:
Six years we banish him, and he shall go.

Cousin, farewell: what presence must not know,
From where you do remain let paper show.

Lord Marshal:
My lord, no leave take I; for I will ride,
As far as land will let me, by your side.

O, to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words,
That thou return'st no greeting to thy friends?

I have too few to take my leave of you,
When the tongue's office should be prodigal
To breathe the abundant dolour of the heart.

Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.

Joy absent, grief is present for that time.

What is six winters? they are quickly gone.

To men in joy; but grief makes one hour ten.

Call it a travel that thou takest for pleasure.

My heart will sigh when I miscall it so,
Which finds it an inforced pilgrimage.

The sullen passage of thy weary steps
Esteem as foil wherein thou art to set
The precious jewel of thy home return.

Nay, rather, every tedious stride I make
Will but remember me what a deal of world
I wander from the jewels that I love.
Must I not serve a long apprenticehood
To foreign passages, and in the end,
Having my freedom, boast of nothing else
But that I was a journeyman to grief?

All places that the eye of heaven visits
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
Teach thy necessity to reason thus;
There is no virtue like necessity.
Think not the king did banish thee,
But thou the king. Woe doth the heavier sit,
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honour
And not the king exiled thee; or suppose
Devouring pestilence hangs in our air
And thou art flying to a fresher clime:
Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
To lie that way thou go'st, not whence thou comest:
Suppose the singing birds musicians,
The grass whereon thou tread'st the presence strew'd,
The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more
Than a delightful measure or a dance;
For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite
The man that mocks at it and sets it light.

O, who can hold a fire in his hand
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
O, no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse:
Fell sorrow's tooth doth never rankle more
Than when he bites, but lanceth not the sore.

Come, come, my son, I'll bring thee on thy way:
Had I thy youth and cause, I would not stay.

Then, England's ground, farewell; sweet soil, adieu;
My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet!
Where'er I wander, boast of this I can,
Though banish'd, yet a trueborn Englishman.

We did observe. Cousin Aumerle,
How far brought you high Hereford on his way?

I brought high Hereford, if you call him so,
But to the next highway, and there I left him.

And say, what store of parting tears were shed?

Faith, none for me; except the north-east wind,
Which then blew bitterly against our faces,
Awaked the sleeping rheum, and so by chance
Did grace our hollow parting with a tear.

What said our cousin when you parted with him?

And, for my heart disdained that my tongue
Should so profane the word, that taught me craft
To counterfeit oppression of such grief
That words seem'd buried in my sorrow's grave.
Marry, would the word 'farewell' have lengthen'd hours
And added years to his short banishment,
He should have had a volume of farewells;
But since it would not, he had none of me.

He is our cousin, cousin; but 'tis doubt,
When time shall call him home from banishment,
Whether our kinsman come to see his friends.
Ourself and Bushy, Bagot here and Green
Observed his courtship to the common people;
How he did seem to dive into their hearts
With humble and familiar courtesy,
What reverence he did throw away on slaves,
Wooing poor craftsmen with the craft of smiles
And patient underbearing of his fortune,
As 'twere to banish their affects with him.
Off goes his bonnet t
most_simple = readability_ranking[
    readability_ranking == 1].dropna(how='all')

fk f dc ari cl gf s sp lw
22 NaN 1.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN
28 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN 1.0 NaN NaN
33 NaN NaN NaN NaN 1.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN
36 1.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN
54 NaN NaN 1.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN
58 NaN NaN NaN 1.0 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN
71 NaN NaN NaN NaN NaN 1.0 NaN 1.0 1.0

The Taming of the Shrew (71) seems the easiest play to read according to several measures.

Other relatively easy-to-read plays:

  • Measure for Measure (58)
  • The Winter’s Tale (54)
  • Romeo and Juliet (33, 36)

Richard II seems in general complex except the passage in (28) which seems relatively easy…

In comparison, the Taming of the Shrew is very readable (a good point for the readability measures tested):

idx = 71
print(text[(idx * chunk_size):((idx + 1) * chunk_size)])
Thy son by this hath married. Wonder not,
Nor be grieved: she is of good esteem,
Her dowery wealthy, and of worthy birth;
Beside, so qualified as may beseem
The spouse of any noble gentleman.
Let me embrace with old Vincentio,
And wander we to see thy honest son,
Who will of thy arrival be full joyous.

But is it true? or else is it your pleasure,
Like pleasant travellers, to break a jest
Upon the company you overtake?

I do assure thee, father, so it is.

Come, go along, and see the truth hereof;
For our first merriment hath made thee jealous.

Well, Petruchio, this has put me in heart.
Have to my widow! and if she be froward,
Then hast thou taught Hortensio to be untoward.

Softly and swiftly, sir; for the priest is ready.

I fly, Biondello: but they may chance to need thee
at home; therefore leave us.

Nay, faith, I'll see the church o' your back; and
then come back to my master's as soon as I can.

I marvel Cambio comes not all this while.

Sir, here's the door, this is Lucentio's house:
My father's bears more toward the market-place;
Thither must I, and here I leave you, sir.

You shall not choose but drink before you go:
I think I shall command your welcome here,
And, by all likelihood, some cheer is toward.

They're busy within; you were best knock louder.

What's he that knocks as he would beat down the gate?

Is Signior Lucentio within, sir?

He's within, sir, but not to be spoken withal.

What if a man bring him a hundred pound or two, to
make merry withal?

Keep your hundred pounds to yourself: he shall
need none, so long as I live.

Nay, I told you your son was well beloved in Padua.
Do you hear, sir? To leave frivolous circumstances,
I pray you, tell Signior Lucentio that his father is
come from Pisa, and is here at the door to speak with him.

Thou liest: his father is come from Padua and here
looking out at the window.

Art thou his father?

Ay, sir; so his mother says, if I may believe her.


Lay hands on the villain: I believe a' means to
cozen somebody in this city under my countenance.

I have seen them in the church together: God send
'em good shipping! But who is here? mine old
master Vincentio! now we are undone and brought to nothing.


Hope I may choose, sir.

Come hither, you rogue. What, have you forgot me?

Forgot you! no, sir: I could not forget you, for I
never saw you before in all my life.

What, you notorious villain, didst thou never see
thy master's father, Vincentio?

What, my old worshipful old master? yes, marry, sir:
see where he looks out of the window.

Is't so, indeed.

Help, help, help! here's a madman will murder me.

Help, son! help, Signior Baptista!

Prithee, Kate, let's stand aside and see the end of
this controversy.

Sir, what are you that offer to beat my servant?

What am I, sir! nay, what are you, sir? O immortal
gods! O fine villain! A silken doublet! a velvet
hose! a scarlet cloak! and a copatain hat! O, I
am undone! I am undone! while I play the good
husband at home, my son and my servant spend all at
the university.

How now! what's the matter?

What, is the man lunatic?

Sir, you seem a sober ancient gentleman by your
habit, but your words show you a madman. Why, sir,
what 'cerns it you if I wear pearl and gold? I
thank my good father, I am able to maintain it.

Thy father! O villain! he is a sailmaker in Bergamo.

You mistake, sir, you mistake, sir. Pray, what do
you think is his name?

His name! as if I knew not his name: I have brought
him up ever since he was three years old, and his
name is Tranio.

Away, away, mad ass! his name is Lucentio and he is
mine only son, and heir to the lands of me, Signior Vincentio.

Lucentio! O, he hath murdered his master! Lay hold
on him, I charge you, in the duke's name. O, my
son, my son! Tell me, thou villain, where is my son Lucentio?

Call forth an officer.
Carry this mad knave to the gaol. Father Baptista,
I charge you see that he be forthcoming.

Carry me to the gaol!

Stay, officer: he shall not go to prison.

Talk not, Signior Gremio: I say he shall go to prison.

Take heed, Signior Baptista, lest you be
cony-catched in this business: I dare swear this
is the right Vincentio.

Swear, if thou darest.

Nay, I dare not swear it.

Then thou wert best say that I am not Lucentio.

Yes, I know thee to be Signior Lucentio.

Away with the dotard! to the gaol with him!

Thus strangers may be hailed and abused: O
monstrous villain!

O! we are spoiled and--yonder he is: deny him,
forswear him, or else we are all undone.


Lives my sweet son?

Pardon, dear father.

How hast thou offended?
Where is Lucentio?

Here's Lucentio,
Right son to the right Vincentio;
That have by marriage made thy daughter mine,
While counterfeit supposes bleared thine eyne.

Here's packing, with a witness to deceive us all!

Where is that damned villain Tranio,
That faced and braved me in this matter so?

Why, tell me, is not this my Cambio?

Cambio is changed into Lucentio.

Love wrought these miracles. Bianca's love
Made me exchange my state with Tranio,
While he did bear my countenance in the town;
And happily I have arrived at the last
Unto the wished haven of my bliss.
What Tranio did, myself enforced him to;
Then pardon him, sweet father, for my sake.

I'll slit the villain's nose, that would have sent
me to the gaol.

But do you hear, sir? have you married my daughter
without asking my good will?

Fear not, Baptista; we will content you, go to: but
I will in, to be revenged for this villany.

And I, to sound the depth of this knavery.

Look not pale, Bianca; thy father will not frown.

My cake is dough; but I'll in among the rest,
Out of hope of all, but my share of the feast.

Husband, let's follow, to see the end of this ado.

First kiss me, Kate, and we will.

What, in the midst of the street?

What, art thou ashamed of me?

No, sir, God forbid; but ashamed to kiss.

Why, then let's home again. Come, sirrah, let's away.

Nay, I will give thee a kiss: now pray thee, love, stay.

Is not this well? Come, my sweet Kate:
Better once than never, for never too late.

At last, though long, our jarring notes agree:
And time it is, when raging war is done,
To smile at scapes and perils overblown.
My fair Bianca, bid my father welcome,
While I with self-same kindness welcome thine.
Brother Petruchio, sister Katharina,
And thou, Hortensio, with thy loving widow,
Feast with the best, and welcome to my house:
My banquet is to close our stomachs up,
After our great good cheer. Pray you, sit down;
For now we sit to chat as well as eat.

Nothing but sit and sit, and eat and eat!

Padua affords this kindness, son Petruchio.

Padua affords nothing but what is kind.

For both our sakes, I would that word were true.

Now, for my life, Hortensio fears his widow.

Then never trust me, if I be afeard.

You are very sensible, and yet you miss my sense:
I mean, Hortensio is afeard of you.

He that is giddy thinks the world turns round.

Roundly replied.

Mistress, how mean you that?

Thus I conceive by him.

Conceives by me! How likes Hortensio that?

My widow says, thus she conceives her tale.

Very well mended. Kiss him for that, good widow.

'He that is giddy thinks the world turns round:'
I pray you, tell me what you meant by that.

Your husband, being troubled with a shrew,
Measures my husband's sorrow by his woe:
And now you know my meaning,

A very mean meaning.

Right, I mean you.

And I am mean indeed, respecting you.

To her, Kate!

To her, widow!

A hundred marks, my Kate does put her down.

That's my office.

Spoke like an officer; ha' to thee, lad!

How likes Gremio these quick-witted folks?

Believe me, sir, they butt together well.

Head, and butt! an hasty-witted body
Would say your head and butt were head and horn.

Ay, mistress bride, hath that awaken'd you?

Ay, but not frighted me; therefore I'll sleep again.

Nay, that you shall not: since you have begun,
Have at you for a bitter jest or two!

Am I your bird? I mean to shift my bush;
And then pursue me as you draw your bow.
You are welcome all.

She hath prevented me. Here, Signior Tranio.
This bird you aim'd at, though you hit her not;
Therefore a health to all that shot and miss'd.

O, sir, Lucentio slipp'd me like his greyhound,
Which runs himself and catches for his master.

A good swift simile, but something currish.

'Tis well, sir, that you hunted for yourself:
'Tis thought your deer does hold you at a bay.

O ho, Petruchio! Tranio hits you now.

I thank thee for that gird, good Tranio.

Confess, confess, hath he not hit you here?

A' has a little gall'd me, I confess;
And, as the jest did glance away from me,
'Tis ten to one it maim'd you two outright.

Now, in good sadness, son Petruchio,
I think thou hast the veriest shrew of all.

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.

Content. What is the wager?

Twenty crowns.

Twenty crowns!
I'll venture so much of my hawk or hound,
But twenty times so much upon my wife.

A hundred then.


A match! 'tis done.

Who shall begin?

That will I.
Go, Biondello, bid your mistress come to me.

I go.

Son, I'll be your half, Bianca comes.

I'll have no halves; I'll bear it all myself.
How now! what news?

Sir, my mistress sends you word
That she is busy and she cannot come.

How! she is busy and she cannot come!
Is that an answer?

Ay, and a kind one too:
Pray God, sir, your wife send you not a worse.

I hope better.

Sirrah Biondello, go and entreat my wife
To come to me forthwith.

O, ho! entreat her!
Nay, then she must needs come.

I am afraid, sir,
Do what you can, yours will not be entreated.
Now, where's my wife?

She says you have some goodly jest in hand:
She will not come: she bids you come to her.

Worse and worse; she will not come! O vile,
Intolerable, not to be endured!
Sirrah Grumio, go to your mistress;
Say, I command her to come to me.

I know her answer.


She will not.

The fouler fortune mine, and there an end.

Now, by my holidame, here comes Katharina!

What is your will, sir, that you send for me?

Where is your sister, and Hortensio's wife?

They sit conferring by the parlor fire.

Go fetch them hither: if they deny to come.
Swinge me them soundly forth unto their husbands:
Away, I say, and bring them hither straight.

Here is a wonder, if you talk of a wonder.

And so it is: I wonder what it bodes.

Marry, peace it bodes, and love and quiet life,
And awful rule and right supremacy;
And, to be short, what not, that's sweet and happy?

Now, fair befal thee, good Petruchio!
The wager thou hast won; and I will add
Unto their losses twenty thousand crowns;
Another dowry to another daughter,
For she is changed, as she had never been.

Nay, I will win my wager better yet
And show more sign of her obedience,
Her new-built virtue and obedience.
See where she comes and brings your froward wives
As prisoners to her womanly persuasion.
Katharina, that cap of yours becomes you not:
Off with that bauble, throw it under-foot.

Lord, let me never have a cause to sigh,
Till I be brought to such a silly pass!

Fie! what a foolish duty call you this?

I would your duty were as foolish too:
The wisdom of your duty, fair Bianca,
Hath cost me an hundred crowns since supper-time.

The more fool you, for laying on my duty.

Katharina, I charge thee, tell these headstrong women
What duty they do owe their lords and husbands.

Come, come, you're mocking: we will have no telling.

Come on, I say; and first begin with her.

She shall not.

I say she shall: and first begin with her.

Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to b

Thanks to Axel Boumendil for pointing the Python library Readability to me.