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Evaluate the different Interpretations of the Taming of Katherina.

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Introduction

Jon Walker Evaluate the different Interpretations of the Taming of Katherina. One of the main points of interest surrounding the play is its ambiguity. The play can be interpreted in many different ways. Many historians disagree as to the way the play ends, for example. Some feminists believe Katherina ends strongly having the last word. Others believe that Petruchio is made out to be stronger as he manages to tame Katherina. In Act 4 Scene 5, however, we see Katherina and Petruchio's relationship in a new light, but has Katherina been tamed? Is she conscious of the taming and playing up to it? Is the taming beneficial to Katherina? Also if the taming were successful or unsuccessful then surely it would provide a viewpoint, which is more favourable to one of the sexes. If she is tamed then Petruchio is stronger. If she is using the taming for her own advantages then she is stronger. The first interpretation would be that Petruchio is seen as the 'comic hero' - one to be admired by the audience - and that Shakespeare has 'sold out' - writing a play about perhaps the most talked about topic of the time (marriage) in order to appeal to the majority. Many plays were written about the taming of wives at the time Shakespeare wrote this one, including 'The Taming of A Shrew' - the similarity in the names of the plays here demonstrates how similar writers ideas were at the time. ...read more.

Middle

However, this interpretation alone is not enough to explain why the play continues to be performed and enjoyed by men and women today. I believe that there are other interpretations which are more credible than this. A contrasting interpretation sees Petruchio as the 'comic villain'. Feminists suggest that Shakespeare may have been writing about how the rights of women should not be abused, such as they are in this play. The argument does have credibility and evidence to back it up. For example, the play was written in the time of the renaissance, a time which represented great changes in society. Women were constantly gaining rights, views and values, Shakespeare may have wanted, therefore, to go against the grain of the traditional conventions of women, and explore the feminist perspectives. Another good example of this is in Shakespeare's later works. 'Beatrice' in 'Much Ado about Nothing' was presented with a sharp tongue and expressed her own mind strongly. We must also remember at this point that the audience was not homogenous - there were certainly lots of mixed views. In this scene Katherina never gives us reason to believe she is actually being serious when she is 'submitting' to Petruchio. Katherina's replies to Petruchio are often very quick and use much the same language as Petruchio, for example; Petruchio I say it is the moon. ...read more.

Conclusion

of plays at the time like The Taming of A Shrew Act 4 Scene 5 takes place on a public road, it is therefore a neutral location of which nobody has ownership. This neutral location enables the characters to negotiate their roles more freely - take for example, Katherina may negotiate who is in control. The 'audience' present, Hortensio and Vincentio, is all male. This may mean that Petruchio is going to simply show-off, in order to show the other males who is in charge of their relationship in order to impress them. The play continues when Katherina starts to play the game, pronouncing Vincentio to be a 'budding young virgin, fair, fresh and sweet.' In a wider context of the play, it seems as thought the play is questioning how women should 'act' in a relationship. Looking back to the induction, the Lord gives the boy many instructions on how to act as a wife, and to talk to his 'husband' with 'soft low tongue and lowly courtesy,' and to say 'what is't your honour will command wherein your lady and humble wife may show her duty and make known her love?'. Also the play is a comedy, therefore is not to be taken too seriously. Petruchio and Katherina often mock the dogmatic viewpoints on both the feminist side, and the side which sees Petruchio as a 'comic hero'. ...read more.

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