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The Taming of the Shrew

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Introduction

The Taming of the Shrew By William Shakespeare What do you consider to be the main reason for Kate's shrewish behaviour at the beginning of the play, and how far do you believe Kate's position in the family and in her society to be responsible? Discuss the methods used by Petruchio to tame Kate consider whether his treatment of her if fair. 'The Taming of the Shrew' is set in the late 1590's in Italy. This is at a time when women had hardly any personal freedoms. They could not vote or even choose whom they wished marry. Their fathers owned them and when they married, their husbands owned them. The passing over of ownership is still shown in our contemporary wedding service when the father 'gives away' the bride to the husband, handing over his ancient legal powers of ownership. Kate is in a trap in this society; she has very little room to develop her personal freedom. Kate is from a well-off family as her father, Baptista, is a rich merchant of Padua. ...read more.

Middle

All women have to travel with a man except Queen Elizabeth who alone could do what she wanted. She had a lot of pressure to get married, as was expected of her, but she stuck to her single state by saying she was married only to her country. Kate is therefore very unhappy with her social position. Wanting to be an independent person in this society proves difficult for Kate. She copes with this by shouting and screaming at it. Baptista is one of a long line of fathers in Shakespeare's plays who do not understand their daughters. In 'Much Ado About Nothing,' Leonato believes Hero to be disloyal, Brabatio in 'Othelo' is scalting about Desdemona and in 'Romeo and Juliet' we see the behaviour of her father Capulet. In 'The Taming of the Shrew' our assumption is that the mother died in childbirth. Without the influence of maternal love, maybe Kate turned to her father. This could be where Kate got some of her masculine qualities of her father. Just like Baptista, Kate is impatient and makes hasty decisions. Young people have a very pronounced sense of unfairness and sense of justice. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a vicious circle, which she herself cannot get out of. Only an outsider can break the circle, and this is Petruchio. Baptista now throws in another issue into this cauldron of emotions. He requires Kate to be married before Bianca. This means that those anxious to marry Bianca will try to find Kate a suitor. It was also an Elizabethan expectation that the elder sister marry before the younger. This makes Kate look like a fool. It is very unfair because it shows how unpopular she is. Although Kate is bad tempered, she is not wicked and so she feels a sense of guilt for her sister. It does not help their sisterly relationship and Bianca begins to show her true feelings, ' That being mad herself, she's madly mated.' Kate is now in a humiliating situation. Baptista is obviously ashamed of Kate and aware that she is the centre of fun in Padua: - 'Petruchio - Pray have you not a daughter called Katherina, fair and virtuous? Baptista - I have a daughter sir called Katherina.' The society in Shakespeare's time was different to ours. Women could not vote; they had no rights. Women were powerless. It required spirited women, like Kate to get out of her predicament. ...read more.

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