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Explore the relationship between Petruchio and Katherina; its dramatic impact and the way it reflects Elizabethan attitudes towards marriage.

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David Humphries Explore the relationship between Petruchio and Katherina; its dramatic impact and the way it reflects Elizabethan attitudes towards marriage. "The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare is a humorous play which focuses on Petruchio and Katherina's relationship. It explores ideas of marriage including the impact of money in surrounding characters lives. This creates ideal opportunities for dramatic impact, which will vary in effect on the Elizabethan, and modern day audiences especially when various dilemmas are presented. Shakespeare uses a range of devices in order to achieve this. Before Petruchio and Katherina meet, the audience is already aware of the characters attitudes towards life and has thoughts of a fiery first encounter between the two. Since arriving in Padua, Petruchio's aim is to "wife and thrive" and thus becoming wealthy. This would come as to no surprise to an Elizabethan audience as they freely accepted that the principal of marriage was often financial. The use of rhyme is suggestive of a jolly mood for Petruchio, which implies he is very optimistic regarding his future in Padua. Some people today would not approve of a male so arrogant and his attitude would not be accepted in today's society as easily. Katherina is described by Hortensio as "intolerable" "shrewd" and "forward" echoing other people's thoughts in doing so. ...read more.


An arranged marriage is something which an Elizabethan audience and all the characters in the play would expect as they understood that love didn't need to be present in order for a marriage to occur. A modern audience would argue that marriage has no meaning without love and the object is clearly defeated. A rhyming couplet ends the exchange thus implying fait accompli, a done deal. Petruchio already steaks his claim on her by ordering her to do things with the use of "must" and "will". The wedding day is used for Petruchio to make clear his intentions by showing a clear lack or respect towards Katherina and the church. He turns up "late" showing a lack of commitment wearing an "old jerkin", "old breeches" and a "broken hilt" among other things. His entrance grabs everyone's attention and gathers the attention he thrives on. This selfish statement amuses surrounding characters; Katherina on the other hand is appalled and disgraced. Modern audiences would feel sorry for her, as no one deserves to put up with such a despondent attitude, an Elizabethan audience may even feel sympathy for her, especially seen as though it was the wedding day. Afterwards, Petruchio refers to his and Katherinas relationship as his, using words such as "I" and "me " not the plural. ...read more.


Petruchio's spitefulness and arrogance seems cruel to the majority of us today, however the Elizabethan era presented many other characters with similar attributes and they were often a favoured section of society. The use of the words "lord" and "keeper" imply that Petruchio owns Katherina, which she has learned to accept and respect over time. She also agrees with other people in the same era that women should do whatever it takes to please the man, implying that it is the least they can do. Today, this sentiment has been abolished with the replacement of equality in most marriages. Petruchio is the victor while Katherina is left to be appreciative and satisfied after eventually collapsing to Petruchios strategy. Mixed and varied reactions emerge from on lookers about the situation. Characters in the play especially Baptista and Bianca, represent feelings of shock and disbelief as their relative has become a new woman almost over night. They find it hard to believe that she has been tamed considering what she was previously like. An Elizabethan audience may accept the outcome as Katherina fits the bill of an Elizabethan wife. And a modern audience would carry thoughts of regret that Katherina should not have given in and lost her fire and aggression so easily and early. The early promise for a conclusive and surprising end has been fulfilled. ...read more.

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