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Taming of the Shrew

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Introduction

Taming of the Shrew "'The Taming of the Shrew' by William Shakespeare was considered to be a comedy in his time. Its plot is the theme in which males and females are pitted against one another for dominance in marriage. The play appears to be about an assertive woman, Katharina, who is coping with how she is supposed to act in the late sixteenth century society. She is expected to obey the unwritten laws of her society in order to be accepted by it. The play ends with Katharina outwardly conforming to the norms of the society. Inwardly, however she could be retaining her assertiveness, although she assumes the role of the obedient wife". The Taming of the Shrew is principally about the power of men in a patriarchal society. Through the play the men compare the two sisters as Very Good (Bianca) and Very Bad (Katherina) This shows the ideal women of society. He then starts to bribe her with gifts of great treasure, wishing for her to come to her father's house. He then says that he will only give her gifts if she is more lady-like: "When you are gentle you shall have one too, And not till then." Yet she claims that she does not care if he loves her or not, she will still have the cap that he promises her: "Love me or love me not, I like the cap, And it I will have, or I will have none." ...read more.

Middle

Baptista dotes shamelessly on Bianca, Kate's younger sister. Bianca is no doubt a contributor to Kate's petulance. Kate is transparently jealous of the sweet, feminine, and shallow Bianca, whose beauty attracts several persistent suitors. Bianca and her parade of suitors are a constant reminder to Kate of her unsuitability and lack of admirers. Baptista, their father, has decreed Bianca will be wooed only when Kate has married; this makes Kate a mere obstacle to Bianca, the true prize: "She is [Baptista's] treasure, she must have a husband..." (II.i. 32). Bianca becomes an easy target for Kate's wrath, if not a totally innocent one. Kate knows Bianca's act of silent suffering in waiting for marriage attracts her the wanted sympathy: "It is best / Put finger in the eye, an she knew why." (I.i. 78-9). The inability of Kate's family to understand or deal with her is only a symptom of a greater underlying problem: the world in which Kate lives. Kate is obviously a highly intelligent, witty and spirited woman; however, the domestic Paduan woman's world leaves her no outlet in which to express her gifts. Padua has no place for Kate, and therefore rejects her as vile-tempered and laughable. Gremio dismisses her thus: "You may go to the devil's dam; your gifts are so great, here's none will hold you." (I.i.105-6). She is notorious throughout the city for her temper, and has been subject to humiliation and ridicule; the sarcasm with which she defends herself from verbal barbs only adds to her image. ...read more.

Conclusion

His methods of starvation, sleep denial and constant brawling seem questionable, but he achieves his goal and wins Kate as an ally. The culmination of his success is Kate's final speech, where she speaks of a wife's duty to be temperate and serving: "A woman moved is like a fountain troubled, Muddy, ill seeming, thick, bereft of beauty, And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it. Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, they sovereign; one that cares for thee..." (V.ii. 142-147) What a change from the venomous, arrogant Kate of Act I! Interpretations of the speech vary greatly, from broken-hearted mumbling to a sarcastic repartee to Petruchio. Truly, however, it would seem to be simply a positive and eloquent expression of the new Kate. She has found her place in worthy Petruchio's house, as respected wife, and though there is the element of submission, one can hardly imagine Kate adhering fully to it. She is more fully alive than ever; her transformation is complete. The theme of role reversal and illusion is predominant in The Taming of the Shrew. The disguised Lucentio and Bianca pour forth romanticism and poetry; however, in the end, their marriage seems hollow and superficial. Contrarily, the once comical and rough union of Petruchio and Kate transforms itself into a potential love of the truest kind. In the same way, then, Katherina is a heroine not for her disguise of sarcasm and insolence, but for her hidden wisdom and true spirit. ...read more.

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