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Do the ends justify the means in Petruchio's taming of Katherina?

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"All is done in reverend care of her" Do the ends justify the means in Petruchio's taming of Katherina? "The Taming of the Shrew" is set in the late 1500s in a market city named Padua in Italy. Now a day the play can be seen as controversial to feminists as well as others. This is because it is set during Elizabethan times, a time when women were seen as the property of their fathers until they were married. Then they become their husband's property. Women had no rights, couldn't vote and had no status. The only women with status were queens. There was a chain of being in late 1500s society this was god - queens - lords - peasants. The play is labeled as a comedy, although sometimes this is not very clear to the modern reader. The first impression you get from Katherina when you meet her is that of a disobedient, rebellious, spirited and fiery person. Men of that time may have found this intimidating. Her sister, on the other hand, is on the outside a model woman of the time by being very sweet, quiet, obedient and demure. This is why their father greatly preferred Bianca and didn't care about upsetting or humiliating Katherina in public. "And let it not displease thee, good Bianca, for I will love thee ne'er the less, my girl" Baptista says this to Bianca because he' sorry that her sister is such a shrew and that no one wants her. ...read more.


Even when he does finally turn up he is dressed in rags and smells. His justification is, "To me she's married, not unto my clothes." He then embarrasses her further in the church by swearing, slapping the priest, getting drunk on the communion wine, throwing the wine in the sexton's face and then kissing her in an undignified manner. He is using shock tactics as part of his taming strategy, being cruel to be kind. Also he is showing her he is in charge. If this isn't enough, he then goes and insults her father by not going to the wedding feast and when Katherina begs him to stay he embarrasses her further. Unfortunately he has the attitude of the man of those times as he feels "she is my goods, my chattels..." The guests then smugly mock them as if they were mad. When they arrive home Petruchio abuses the servants in front of Katherina. Then he deprives her of food, saying it is burnt when in fact it is perfectly done. "And 'tis my hope to end successfully. My falcon now is sharp and passing empty, And till she stoop she must not be full- gorged... She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat; Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not." He is doing all this in an effort to tame her. By the way he acts around her you would think that he enjoys it and thinks she deserves it, but, in actual fact he says; "He that knows better how to tame a shrew, now let him speak- 'tis charity to show." ...read more.


They send their servants one at a time for the different wives. Bianca says she is busy, the widow says her husband can come to her. When Katherina is called she comes straight away. When asked by Petruchio to tell the other wives what duty they owe their husbands she replies with a proud speech about how an angry woman is like a "fountain troubled, Muddy ill-seeming, beret of beauty" and that a husband "is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee and for thy maintenance" She goes on to say why women should care, love and make a husband as happy as possible and do everything he asks: "Commits his body to painful labor both by sea and land, ... Whilst thou li'st at home, secure and safe" She even says that "love, fair looks and true obedience- Too little payment for so great a debt." She explains that her old behavior is something she now hates: "when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour, And not obedient his honest will, What is she but a foul contending rebel? And graceless traitor to her loving lord? I am ashamed that women are so simple" In conclusion although I think that what Petruchio did is wrong I feel the end result was amazing. Her inner beauty is finally allowed to shine through, and she still has her fiery spirit but at least it is now controlled and others can now respect and admire her for all she is. ...read more.

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