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An exploration of the way Shakespeare presents the characters and relationships of Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew.

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Introduction

An exploration of the way Shakespeare presents the characters and relationships of Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. The relationship between Kate and Petruchio is central to the development of The Taming of the Shrew, as both characters clearly represent and are centrally involved in the main theme of the play, the taming of the "shrew", Kate. The audience is first introduced to Kate by other characters' opinions of her, such rather than from Kate herself. Language such as Gremio's, 'she's too rough for me,' and Hotensio's, 'Unless you were of gentler milder mould,' gives Kate her reputation as a "shrewish" character. When Kate first speaks, she speaks rudely, threatening to hurt Hortensio by, 'combing his noddle with a three legged stool.' The fact that Kate is described as different and nonconformist before she even gets a chance to speak gives the audience preconceptions of her character, perhaps unfairly, and immediately paints her as a shrew. Much is heard about Kate when she is not around to defend herself, which gives the audience the impression that Kate is perhaps being portrayed unfairly. The audience may feel that Kate has a reason for being upset with her father and men in general, as her father appears to prefer Bianca to Kate. ...read more.

Middle

Kate exits weeping, demonstrating to the audience that she does have a heart, and may make the audience feel some sympathy towards Kate, that she is being treated so badly by Petruchio. This sympathy towards Kate continues when Petruchio is described as coming in strange clothes such as an,' old hat,' and,'a pair of old breeches, thrice turned.' This makes the audience feel sympathy towards Kate as Petruchio has forced Kate into marrying him, and now does not respect Kate enough to come and marry her in decent clothes. This can also be seen as another aspect of Petruchio's taming strategy, and again important to the play. Petruchio seems to ignore the criticism he receives from Baptista and others, 'an eyesore to our solemn festival,' and continues to press on with his "mission", the taming of Kate. 'The morning wears, 'tis time we were at church,' demonstrates that Petruchio is restless in his pursuit of Kate, and uncaring of any criticism he receives. Tranio states that, 'he has some meaning in his mad attire,' again reminding the reader that the, 'mad attire,' is part of Petruchio's submission of Kate. When Petruchio states, 'I can change these mad accoutrements,' this can have a double meaning, both that Petruchio's clothes are poor, and can be changed, but perhaps that his wife is also seen as poor as a person, and he intends to change that. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can also be seen not as a reflection of Kate as tamed, but as simply agreeing so that they may continue on their journey. 'Say as he says, or we shall never go.' Kate's final speech can be seen as a summing up of the main theme of the play, the changing of Kate, and how successful that has been. This final speech can be interpreted as truthful and credible, that Kate has indeed been tamed and accepts Petruchio as her, 'lord.' Kate states that she now sees,' our lances are but straws,' demonstrating the effect Petruchio has had, that now, instead of her previous feeling of dominance, she now sees herself as 'soft' and 'weak.' Kate's final speech can also be seen as ironic, that throughout the play, Kate was seen as the 'froward' and unfit sister, whereas now it is Bianca who is described as a, 'froward and unable worm. This represents the change in Kate by the end of the play, almost from one extreme to the other. This however can also be seen as somewhat sarcastic or untruthful, something Kate does simply because it is easier for her to do so. This relationship and exchanges between Kate and Petruchio are essential to the play, and their many varied exchanges provide a fast moving and interesting dramatic text. ...read more.

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