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Is it possible to stage Katherina's final speech as a suitable closure and/or does it open up further problems for the audience /actor / director?

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Introduction

Is it possible to stage Katherina's final speech as a suitable closure and/or does it open up further problems for the audience /actor / director? William Shakespeare's comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, centres around the marriage of two sisters: Bianca, considered the epitome of beauty and obedience, and Katherina, the 'shrew' for whom the play is named. Bianca, the younger sister, cannot marry until a husband is found for Katherina. Of course, Katherina's reputation as ' Kate the cursed' makes this rather difficult. Bianca's suitors (Lucentio and Hortensio) find someone to 'tame' Katherina -Petruchio. This sets the stage for many different interpretations of the play for the audience, including the role of Katherina and the impact of her final speech. Unlike Petruchio's character, which was dwelt on when the play was first written, Katherina's character has only recently attracted much critical attention, particularly with the development of feminism. Many modern critics might therefore concentrate on the aspects of gender and class throughout the play, especially those made in Katherina's final speech. Earlier audiences, however, may have had different views, for example many may have commented on how the scene between Christopher Sly and his attendants was not resolved or the issue of Petruchio and his wife-taming tricks towards Bianca. It is therefore advisable to take into account the different expectations audiences have about the play. I feel that the main problem, however hard one tries, is that it is not entirely possible to feel a sense of 'closure' at the end of the play. ...read more.

Middle

He remarked that the last scene in which Katherina, the former 'shrew', accepts Petruchio's total domination over her, thus winning a wager for him, is 'altogether disgusting to modern sensibility'. Mark Von Doren views, that while we would be 'outraged' in life 'a certain callousness' is induced on stage in the beholder so that ' he will laugh freely and steadily for two hours'. He is in other words, saying that we can accept as comedy on stage what we could not accept in life. These two critics are from the earlier part of the twentieth century accept that there might be problems with making comedy out of a cruel ' taming' of a human being in order to bring her into life. Mark Von Doren's view is one that I can concur with, Shakespeare wrote a play to entertain the Elizabethan audience, He did not write it to spark of feminist debates. Clearly today, one needs to remember that Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew as a comedy. It is however, certainly evident that as Michael Bogdanov suggested 'Shakespeare was a feminist'. Critics have often argued that Kate's final speech does not show the importance of female submission. They maintain that Katherina outlines the idea that men and women have different duties from one another. It also seems apparent that both sexes have distinct roles in marriage. Some critics have argued that this play represents an anachronistic view of marriage, which was already out of date at the time the play was first performed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Feminist critics are divided about whether or not we can view the action of this play supporting or subverting the patriarchal hierarchy, which is described in Katherina's last speech. The induction serves as an ironic commentary on the action of the rest of the play foreshadowing events and themes that may serve as some importance in both the plot and subplot of the play. For instance, we might compare the public humiliation of the stocks that the Hostess threatens Sly with, with the public punishment that is given to Katherina during her 'taming' process. Though Christopher Sly represents the role of Katherina in the play, critics often disagree as to why it was included in this way, instead of being incorporated into Act I, or being left out all together, especially since the play can stand on its own. Many believe that it only confuses the audience members being left unresolved, further leaving the audience pondering. In Conclusion, I feel that it is not entirely possible to get a sense of complete closure at the end of the play, with many questions still unanswered. For example, it seems strange that Shakespeare has not returned to the unsettled scene with Christopher Sly, especially as it serves as an appropriate induction to the preceding scenes. Many feel that Katherina speech does act 'as a suitable closure', with Petruchio winning his 'peace...and love, and quiet life and right supremacy' with the shrew vanquished out of sight. Though Hortensio says unequivocally, Petruchio has 'tam'd' a 'curst shrew', One still wonders and reserves doubts about Katherina's future conduct. Page 1 Vanessa Bowen Candidate number 8698 ...read more.

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