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Examine the ways in which Shakespeare presents issues of marriage and relationships, with particular reference to Katherina and Petruchio in

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which Shakespeare presents issues of marriage and relationships, with particular reference to Katherina and Petruchio in "The Taming of the Shrew" What did marriage mean to people in Shakespeare's time and how does it contrast with marriage today? Getting married in modern times is not something which is viewed as necessary. There are many couples that are together, but do not want to marry, because they do not feel they have to. Couples that do, can have a marriage almost anywhere they choose. Couples can marry in houses, shopping centres and even petrol stations. Anywhere you can get a marriage licence and a vicar, is seen as a place fit to hold a wedding these days. In "The Taming of the Shrew" however, marriage was seen as something of a necessity. It was a very important stage in life, but a stage in which love was not seen as a key or important ingredient. Women were sold off to the highest bidder and became the husband's property to do with as he saw fit. This is shown in "The Taming of the Shrew" when Petruchio says: "I will be master of what is mine own. She is my goods, my chattels, she is my house, my household stuff, my field, my barn, my horse, my everything." This proves that women were seen as nothing but pieces of meat. Marriage was almost compulsory and if a lady were not married by the time she reached the right age, she would be seen as a worthless failure and would have no respect in Society. This is a huge contrast with the modern day relationship. In the play, Katherina is referred to as a shrew, because she is constantly defying the more superior men, so is seen as a figure of fun in the community. The roots of this stretch back to the Commedia dell'Arte, a "panto dame", someone who is constantly joking around and no one takes seriously. ...read more.

Middle

This feeling of sympathy grows throughout the play, when Katherina finally gives in to Petruchio and decides she cannot take any more violent treatment from her husband. While the Shakespearean audience would have been celebrating when she makes her final speech, today's audience would see her behaviour as a step back in the fight for women's respect. They would feel deep sympathy for what Katherina had to do and dislike towards the power of men, in the Elizabethan world. Shakespeare, living in the Elizabethan world, but with a seemingly modern view on life, wants us to see that women were beginning to feel that they were designed for more than a servant to men. Men were still triumphant and that stage had not yet been reached, where women could win the battle of the sexes. But their time would soon come. At the beginning of the play, Katherina seems almost immature to what is going on around her. As the play progresses, she seems to learn more about men and how to play them. As Petruchio tries to tame her she eventually responds and becomes a loyal wife, but is this change really what it seems? In her final speech, Katherina speaks of how all women should be loyal to their husbands. However there is a note of sarcasm in her voice that brings one to believe that she is just keeping Petruchio happy so he will treat her accordingly and is planning some kind of revenge in the near future. In this thought there lies the undeniable power of women over men, here, Petruchio shows that he may not have an idea of the overall picture and what could possibly be going on behind the scenes. Bianca, Baptista's daughter, who eventually marries Luchentio, appears at the start to be a perfect Elizabethan woman. She does what she is told by men and does not question what they wish to do, but at the end of the play she does not come when her husband calls her and begins to rebel against the men. ...read more.

Conclusion

But, after Katherina is eventually tamed, does she feel real affection or even love for Petruchio or is she just putting it on so she is no longer starved? In her final speech, Katherina explains to an astounded audience that women should be the servants of men and should come when they are called by their husbands and do whatever they wish. This is an amazing transformation in Katherina, but why does she do this? Also why does the seemingly perfect Bianca suddenly begin to rebel just as her sister had done at the beginning of the play? The answer to this sudden role reversal is quite hard to explain, Bianca, being the good lady perhaps wanted a change and saw that what her sister was doing was not so bad after all. She is fed up of serving her man and wants some independence. The most important question is, has Katherina really changed? Her final speech can be interpreted in different ways. Firstly, we can accept that Petruchio has tamed her and that her free women's spirit is truly dead. Secondly, and more importantly we can look at Katherina's speech and see that in fact, she is being sarcastic. All the things that she says about women serving men is a lie, once again, the battle of the sexes that has been raging throughout the play comes into play. Katherina is tricking Petruchio into a sense of security and triumph, so that she can think about what she is going to do next, possibly take revenge on Petruchio for that he did to her. So does she love him? No, Katherina does not love Petruchio, she wants to be a free woman away from the orders of the Elizabethan world and she always will be. They may appear at the feast to be a happy couple, but underneath the surface of smiles there is the dark truth, that marriage in Shakespeare's day was not happy at all but something that was just done. The Taming of the Shrew Phil Durrant - 1 - ...read more.

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