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How does Shakespeare present the female character in the Taming of the Shrew

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare present the female character in the Taming of the Shrew? Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew explores the role of women in Elizabethan times. Shakespeare uses many themes and imagery in the play and this essay intends to explore how Shakespeare presents the female character in the Taming of the Shrew. The Elizabethans believed that a peaceful and tamed house wife was a good wife. This view is supported by The goodie and the Baddie an Elizabethan text giving advice on how to be a good wife. "...she is a comfort of calamity...she is her husbands down bed...a saint in her heart..." Shakespeare in the Taming of the Shrew uses the idea of good and bad wife with Kate and Bianca. Kate seems to be the opposite of a perfect wife, "To cart her rather! She's too rough for me" Gremio speaking to Baptista unfairly about Kate saying that she acts no better than a prostitute, Bianca, Shakespeare develops as being the perfect wife. "Sir to your pleasure..." Bianca is seen as the perfect. She in act one is seemingly attentive and polite playing the part of a good Elizabethan women, she wants the good things in life however may later on we see she may not be so keen to give back to her husband. "the more fool you for laying on my duty..." she offends Lucentio calling him stupid for betting on her, she may seem tamed but she is hiding a shrewish interior. Petruchio has seemingly tamed Kate, winning her over and turning her into a perfect wife. ...read more.

Middle

The audience from the start has been exposed to Kate's shrew ness and would have probably disliked her character. Shakespeare creates Kate as a untameable person however foreshadows she might be hiding a more acceptable interior. "if you strike me you are no gentleman..." she knows how men should act towards women so does understand how society should work. Bianca to the audience would be the complete opposite to the audience as already mentioned she would be the Elizabethan idea of a good wife and the audience would have preferred her. However Shakespeare reverses the roles of these two characters at the end of the play creating a surprise twist and building on the idea of transformation. Shakespeare also uses many different types of imagery in Taming of the Shrew to present women. Shakespeare like whit. "...what, with my tongue in your tail/"That I'll try..." Petruchio uses this imagery from a fiery conversation between him and Kate. Shakespeare also uses lots of one line phrases to create a feeling of fast whit between Kate and Petruchio. However this rude imagery interests Kate, she dares him to put it to the test showing that maybe she is interested in this man. Later when Petruchio shows up late for his own wedding Kate is actually disappointed and saddened by this. Shakespeare also uses the idea of deception, throughout the entire play actors play other characters and the play is set within anther play possibly to deceive viewers from a deeper meaning to the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

The society in which the play is set deeply favours men and women have only one place, at home looking after all domestic affairs. Through the play we see the main women characters transform. Kate becomes tamed and turns into what the society at the time would consider a good wife. However Bianca does the complete opposite, managing to deceive everyone while playing herself. Throughout the play only Tranio and Bianca have been able to deceive the rest of the cast. Kate's finally speech maybe convincing to the men present in scene due to the content of the speech and the encouragement of good wifehood, however due to the repetition of some of Petruchio's words and the quickness of Kate's transformation I believe Kate's change from the shrew to a good wife is falsified as her transformation into a perfect wife is too quick Throughout the Taming of the Shrew women are perceived as second class citizens, constantly talked down to by men and in the case of Petruchio only married because of the dowry. Shakespeare presents women as both of the above, but I believe he is intentions was to demonstrate how women were treated in Elizabethan society. Shakespeare uses imagery to show how misunderstood women were by men and disguise as an idea of how real life marriage. Throughout the play we believe Kate to be the shrew however with her last speech it leaves the audience's opinion changed and possibly favouring Kate but ridiculing Bianca, due the use of disguise. Shakespeare's use of these two forms of imagery presents women in a realistic way which is hidden with the many plays in the Taming of the Shrew. ...read more.

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