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How does Shakespeare present relationships between men and women in 'The Taming of The Shrew'?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare present relationships between men and women in 'The Taming of The Shrew'? Shakespeare uses the relationships in the play in order to express his own views of society and the roles of men and women in the Elizabethan era. Through his portrayal of the two genders in the 'the Taming of the Shrew', in particular Petruchio and Katherina, Shakespeare demonstrates the idea that men are too dominant over the female race, and that women should be given a more contributory, and equal role in society. He does not explicitly show this, because it would have been seen as too diverse for 16th Century literature, but he does show parity as an underlying opinion in the play. A common motif in the play is the idea of money and wealth. This was seen as an important factor in life decisions such as marriage, particularly for men characters because, in the Elizabethan era, they owned all of their wife's belongings, riches and earnings, if any. Consequently marrying into wealth had a key part to play in happiness. In 'the Taming of the Shrew', this is apparent through Petruchio, and his marriage to Katherina. In the play, he is challenged to 'tame' her, and agrees to it because she is 'rich enough'. ...read more.

Middle

Katherina is also referred to as a 'falcon', which is again is a fierce animal, however, it is classed as a bird of prey so Shakespeare may have wanted to use this description in order to give Katherina status in the play over the other women. The fact that these ideas of her does not change Petruchio's mind implies that he may find it an attraction to her and that he may find it desirable for a woman to have a fiery personality. In which case, Shakespeare may be grounding his own implicit value of how he thinks women should be in a relationship. Another theme he uses would be piracy and sea imagery, where Petruchio again objectifies Katherina, but this time compares her to a 'swelling Adriatic sea', which gives the impression that she is violent and stormy. He also plans to 'board her', which again states that he is ready to 'tame' her despite of the way she is presented to be. But considering the sea is a natural aspect of the world, Shakespeare may be entailing the idea that Katherina's personality is also natural and although it may need taming slightly so that it is enjoyable, the energy she has should not be spoilt, as it is necessary in a relationship, which would infringe upon the social view of that time. ...read more.

Conclusion

A balance of fulfilment may have been Shakespeare's motive to have Katherina finally tamed, as it displays the idea that marriage is a completion of two people. Also by having her tamed at the end, Shakespeare has kept Katherina's confident character but directed it away from men, and more at the 'peevish' and 'sullen' married women whom she is 'ashamed' of. The effect of this is that although men are too dominant in his society, Shakespeare wants women to still appreciate them as well as being appreciated themselves, which in his observation, is the key to a happy marriage and relationship. Overall, Katherina is used in the play as the controversial woman who challenges the stereotypical ideas of relationships and the roles of women, while Petruchio is the comical, triumphant character who is idolised by the audience. He is the dominant of the two throughout the play, however toward the end a balance begins to take place. The play was written in order to demonstrate equality in marriage and highlight the issues in 16th century society around the differences between men and women, in a comical, light-hearted way to entertain and not arouse the audience. On the surface, Shakespeare supports the 'taming' of Katherina, but ultimately demonstrates an opinion that marriage should be a loving relationship that is equal. Demi Shorten English Literature AS Shakespeare Coursework ...read more.

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