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The Taming of the Shrew. What does the play say abour attitudes toward love and marriage and about the relationship between the sexes?

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Caroline Seely 10H 20th December 2004 What does the play say about attitudes toward love and marriage and about the relationship between the sexes? What might be the reaction of a modern audience to what takes place on stage? It could be said that "The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare is focused entirely on attitudes toward love and marriage and the relationship between the sexes. This is demonstrated in many ways throughout the play. For example in Act 1 Scene 1, Baptista Minola is telling his younger daughter's suitors that they cannot pursue her until his older daughter, Katherina, is married. "That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter Before I have a husband for the elder. " (Lines 50 and 51) Here we have an example of how the father is dictating the future of his daughter's in a way that would not happen in today's Western society. In view of the strict rules surrounding love and marriage, such as formal courtship and chaperoning, Lucentio has to pretend to be a schoolteacher in order to get close to Bianca with whom he has fallen in love. "You will be schoolmaster, And undertake the teaching of the maid- That's your device." ...read more.


There is a great deal of emphasis on social standing in relation to love and marriage and this extends into the relationship between men and women. Each has their own role to play regardless of their own feelings, emotions or preferences. This is why, when Katherina behaves badly, imposing her will on everybody around her it is vital that Petruchio "tames" her so that he can be seen in society as fulfilling the superior role. The play covers many aspects across society but the relationship between the sexes is most interesting showing how Petruchio manages to gradually reform Katherina but also how she moves towards adapting to her new social role as a wife because she can see benefits for herself and feels that it will make her happier. Shakespeare demonstrates the different aspects of breaking the rules of accepted society in a number of different ways. It starts with Katherina being out of line with how society expects a young woman to behave and goes on to show that changing clothes and pretending to be different characters will change attitudes between the sexes. This still happens today. Fashion is extremely popular among young people and their attitudes towards the opposite sex are changed to some degree by the way a modern suitor presents his or herself. ...read more.


His dominance becomes more extreme when in Act 4 Scene 5 he pretends that the sun is the moon and when Katherina questions this he gets angry and tells her off for contradicting him. When she eventually does give in and agrees that it is the moon or whatever he would like to be, they continue their journey because she has let him have his way. A similar event takes place later in Scene 5 when they meet Vincentio when Katherina is forced to greet him as a woman. All these incidents would be viewed as bullying to a modern audience. At the end of the play Katherina appears to be completely tamed. This is demonstrated in Act 5 Scene 2 when Petruchio, Lucentio, and Hortensio place a bet on whose wife will come when called. To everybody's amazement Petruchio commands Katherina to, "tell that these headstrong women what duty they do owe their lords and husbands." This is a very strong command and really puts the women in their place. This attitude is not in line with modern marriages. Katherina delivers a long speech to the women agreeing that their husbands rein over them like Lord's and that they should "serve, love, and obey" their husbands. At the end of the speech are the famous words spoken proudly by Petruchio, "come on, and kiss me, Kate." ...read more.

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