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Discuss the presentation of Petruchio throughout Shakespeare’s play: Taming of the Shrew.

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Introduction

Discuss the presentation of Petruchio throughout Shakespeare's play: Taming of the Shrew. The question of identity is the main theme being challenged by Shakespeare and in different ways all the characters in the play are used as devices to question aspects of human identity and perceptions of identity. This question arises in the induction, with Sly's transition from "drunkard" to "Lord", and concludes in the final scene, with Kate's transition and submission from "shrew" to a dominated wife, " Thy husband is thy lord". Shakespeare deliberately built Petruchio in layers, so that the audience, producer and actor could have their own representation of him, this all adds to his complex and ambiguous nature. Petruchio does not meditate on a reasonable level, nor should he, he is not intended as a 'Hamlet' or 'Macbeth', he is an exaggerated character with exaggerated features, however Shakespeare can present a overriding reality through him, as he (as well as Kate) is 'tamed' to love. The play is a boisterous farce therefore it is wrong for an audience to expect too much from the characterization. It is a comedy of character with implications and hidden stories beyond the notional story of the title and because of this the character of Petruchio is more of a caricature than a rounded, psychologically believable character. However, William Shakespeare has created more than a simple caricature in his presentation of Petruchio. Although the characters in the taming of the shrew add to the farce of the play they also represent a reality in their relationships and in their 'human' behavior to which any theatre audience can respond. ...read more.

Middle

speaks in a whirlwind and uses accumulation to climax his speech, Kate is left powerless, "Kiss me Kate, we will be married on Sunday." However in other situations he is presented as tactless, impatient and avaricious, "What dowry hall I have with her to wife?" which suggests that the character should not be perceived as the clever, dominant man he appears himself to be. Shakespeare highlights the social status of the male, as Petruchios' lies are believed over Kate's' protests. On one hand Petruchios character is intensely rash and spontaneous "I will not sleep Hortensio until I see her" but at the same time he is also incredibly presumptuous and confident, "For I will board her though she chide as loud" These attributes paint Petruchio as an impulsive and arrogant character who constantly contradicts his previous moods, this supplies the flow of the comedy as Shakespeare's most prominent device of humor is illuminated by him. Moreover he is determined to reach his goals and will not settle for any compromise. "And I do hope days are long to see". Shakespeare therefore presents him as a strange mixture of positive and negative qualities, which means that any producer of the play can emphasize different aspects to produce a theatrical experience, which can have a very different tone and a very different effect on the audience. The Taming of the Shrew should perhaps be seen as a study of human relationships rather than a play of realistic human drama. ...read more.

Conclusion

Between them is a mutual love one that is fully reciprocated. It concludes in the final scene but begins immediately after their introduction where they exchange insults as they mimic adolesant flirting. His ambiguities and unconventional mannerisms all are attributes that paint his character as an individual masterpiece. Inevitably therefore because Kate and Petruchio are both so alike, Kate takes very quickly to his games of words and irony on there way home to her fathers, (4.v.37-50). Petruchio is a fiery character that would be disappointed in a victory too easily won, and disappointed if Kate were too easily tamed: "He kills her with his own humour" The passage of time means that today's Petruchio is a different character to that first seen on the Elizabethan stage. This is because of the massive shift in gender perceptions and roles that have occurred throughout the 20th century - feminism etcetera. Modern productions of the play therefore have the potential to present Petruchio and his 'taming of the shrew' in a number of different and equally valid ways; Chauvinist; control freak, stubborn bully; humorous cad; sharp, witty, instinctive potential partner: All of these 'Petruchios' would be affected then by decisions made in casting, costume, set design, lighting, and music, following on from that the final interpretation will be fed to the audience. Therefore the identity of this character is fluid and malleable - factors which ensure this play still has a place in the repertoire of 21st century theatre. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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