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'The Taming of the Shrew' is a play written by Shakespeare in Elizabethan times to examine many complex ideas, including those of social roles and marital harmony.

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Introduction

'The Taming of the Shrew' is a play written by Shakespeare in Elizabethan times to examine many complex ideas, including those of social roles and marital harmony. These two in particular relate to the character of Kate, and the way her circumstances change and the way she reacts creates the main interest of the play. At the beginning of the play, we meet Katherina, also known as Kate, as a fiery, wilful, aggressive and apathetic young woman of the Italian town of Padua. We learn she is known for these undesirable traits, and laughed at by the men and women of Padua alike, and a common target of hurtful ridicule. All the strain of this is merely worsened by the apparent perfection of her sister, Bianca. As much as Katherina is rebellious, shrewish and undesired, Bianca is her opposite and has many suitors. Bianca fits the Renaissance female ideal in her unassuming, graceful, intelligent and mild nature. The light in her father, Baptista's eye, and the heart's desire of so many, Bianca is a source of much jealousy and insecurity for Kate. ...read more.

Middle

However, like any other item of his property, he bids to protect her, comforting her to "-Fear not, sweet wench, they shall not touch thee, Kate; I'll buckler thee against a million", this echoing the idea of marital harmony and how he shall in turn offer her comfort and protection. The pair then swiftly head to Petruchio's country house, even before the wedding banquet. At the house, he continues through a variety of plots in his course of taming her. During dealings with the servants, Petruchio is particularly harsh in his manner, and interestingly we see the equally harsh and unreasonable Katherina attempting to reason to her husband that he should not be so unkind, "I pray you, husband, be not so disquiet. The meat was well, if you were so contented". She sees how he is to people, and realises it is wrong. This is for her like a view on how she has been to others, and viewing it from an onlooker's eyes means she can feel pity and empathy, making her understand and show a softer side. This feminine quality has previously been particularly lacking, and so this is another significant change. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows she will from there onwards take a submissive role and avoid standing up for herself, and not be concerned about things like pride, which previously would have dominated her social interactions. Instead, her husband takes precedence. The old Kate, before her marriage to Petruchio, would have jumped to assert blame onto someone else. However, her current devoted and passive nature means she jumps to the defensive, in this action being graceful, polite, calm and subdued, much like the idealised woman of the period, and the initial perception of Bianca. By this stage, Kate has become very subdued, and is far more close to the perception of ideal womanhood held at the time. She has changed completely, and her surrendering continues to amaze an audience remembering the past behaviour of this shrew. She has changed very much in demeanour, as she now fits a social role model of being a wife, though at this stage still integrating the details. She is undeniably more passive, calmer, sweeter, more graceful and thus, more desirable, and we see such a great change on the character that this man Petruchio has had upon her. Ms Dale English Rosalyn Newell Trace the changes the audience the audience sees in Katherine after the introduction of Petruchio ...read more.

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