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How effective are Shakespeare's linguistic choices in conveying the power struggle between Katherine and Petruchio?

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Introduction

How effective are Shakespeare's linguistic choices in conveying the power struggle between Katherine and Petruchio? This essay will study the text 'The Taming of the Shrew' by William Shakespeare. It is a play written in London in 1592 and published in 1623. The play is set during the Jacobean era (1420-1600). The purpose of the play is to entertain an audience. The secondary purpose may be to inform a modern audience about power and roles of men and women in the Jacobean era. During this period of time, a person's power was shown by the language they used, so the more quick-witted and articulate a person was in conversation the more social power they held. Shakespeare uses various linguistic features in conveying the power struggle between Katherine and Petruchio. Throughout the play Petruchio belittles Katherine and damages the face she presents of herself in an effort to 'tame the shrew'. 'Kath. A joint-stool. Pet. Thou hast hit it. Come, sit on me.' The face that Katherine presents is not that of a typical woman. She is very vituperative and unwilling to conform to society's expectations of marriage. ...read more.

Middle

This gives Katherine the power of the exchange as it is in fact Petruchio's intelligence that makes them equal and by insulting this she is suggesting that he is inferior. She also reminds him of the fact that she is equal to him in intelligence and power. 'Kath. Too light for such a swain as you to catch.' Katherine turns the adjective 'light' around to connote that she is more quick-witted than Petruchio, whereas he had used it to say she was sexually promiscuous. This shows that they are of equal power and are able to feed off of each other to maintain the power balance. In contrast Petruchio tries to use compliments to break Katherine down. 'Pet. Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear as morning roses newly wash'd with dew. Say she be mute and will not speak a word, then I'll commend her volubility.' The lexical fields of nature give the play a lexical cohesion. The noun 'nightingale' and the phrase 'roses newly wash'd with dew' are things that are generally seen as beautiful and by comparing Katherine to them, Petruchio is suggesting that she is also beautiful. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that he can rhyme in his speech, makes him seem more intelligent and therefore more powerful to Katherine. Although Katherine's utterances aren't as long as Petruchio's, she uses a pun to show her wit can match his. 'Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing;' In the time that the play was written the verb 'heard' and the adjective 'hard' were both pronounced in the same way so this would have been a pun, although a modern audience may have trouble understanding this. Throughout the play Shakespeare uses many effective linguistic techniques to show the power struggle between Katherine and Petruchio. The two characters are of equal intelligence and wit, and this shows in conversation and how they are able to feed off of each others words. 'Pet. For knowing thee to be but young and light - Kath. Too light for such a swain as you to catch.' Katherine takes the adjective 'light' which Petruchio has used in a negative light and changes its context to show her in a positive light. Both characters use this to their advantage. Petruchio to show Katherine that he is equal to her and able to 'tame the shrew' and Katherine to counter his proposal and show that she does not want him. ?? ?? ?? ?? Word Count: 1548 ...read more.

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