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What aspects of 'The Taming of the Shrew' identify the play as a comedy?

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Introduction

What aspects of 'The Taming of the Shrew' identify the play as a comedy? Shakespeare's plays are divided into four main sections: the Histories, the Tragedies, the Comedies, and the Romances. 'The Taming of the Shrew' falls under the category of Comedy, for it consists of mistaken identity, slapstick characters, drunken behaviour, and ends with (multiple) marriages, a staple of his comedies. His work has been produced since the Renaissance in all artistic mediums from the original theatre to opera, symphony, film, and ballet. Shakespeare is well-known for his melodramatic plays about marriage and life during the 16th and 17th centuries, and there are many parallels between his plays and Italian scenarios, e.g. 'Romeo and Juliet' is a portrayal of the relationship and marriage of Anthony and Cleopatra. This is common of Shakespeare to adapt real-life marriages and present them in a different perspective in his plays. There are many parallels between his plays and Italian scenarios. As an Elizabethan play writer, commenting on feminist issues of this period, his play 'The Taming of the Shrew' portrayed the life of feminist women in the late 16th, early 17th century, and their cynical and dismissive views concerning marriage. In this romantic comedy, the play's protagonist, and antagonist, Katherina, is presented as a staunch feminist who opposes the moral elements of marriage, and love in a relationship. 'The Taming of the Shrew' may have been written for the raucous and common audience of Shakespeare's day, as opposed to his dramatic and tragic productions written for Queen Elizabeth. With so many comic characters, witty puns, costumes, and mistaken identity, 'The Taming of the Shrew' seems a rowdy few hours of escape from the harsh existence of medieval daily life. Elizabeth I, who never had children, and therefore never married, was known as the virgin Queen who felt strongly about her beliefs. 'The Taming of the Shrew' is one of Shakespeare's most famous comedies. ...read more.

Middle

Kate shows her ruthless manner when first meeting Petruchio, and she is not impressed by him: Petruchio: Good morrow, Kate, for that's your name, I hear. Katherina: Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing; They call me Katherina that do talk of me. (II, i, 182-184) Kate's first words to Petruchio already create the impression of a moody woman, who is angered when someone does not call her by her real name, and she uses this as an attempt to show she is no inferior woman. Elizabeth was known as the virgin Queen, and therefore did not marry, as Catholics held strong views about sex before marriage. Kate believes that her father is willing to 'sell her to the highest bidder' for her marriage. Marriage was, in fact, very much a business agreement, with love and compatibility as decidedly subsidiary factors. The 16th-century genre of Italian comedy seems to have had a big impact on Shakespeare and we can see evidence of its stylings in many of his plays. An important feature of the Commedia dell'Arte was the zanni, a collection of characters used for comic relief. Tranio could be classified as a zanni. The melodrama and slapstick in the play is also likely due to the influence of the commedia dell'arte, and the protagonists could easily be dressed as clowns and still fit perfectly into the drama. Petruchio's use of physical violence to tame his headstrong fianc�e is somehow made tolerable because all the relationships in this play are embed with violence Disguise figures prominently in 'The Taming of the Shrew': Sly dresses as a lord, Lucentio dresses as a Latin tutor, Tranio dresses as Lucentio, Hortensio dresses as a music tutor, and the pedant dresses as Vincentio. These disguises enable the characters to transgress barriers in social position and class, and, for a time, each of them is successful. In 'The Taming of the Shrew', society involves a web of antecedents that are always able to uncover one's true nature, no matter how differently one wishes to portray oneself. ...read more.

Conclusion

You pluck my foot awry. Take that, and mend the plucking off the other. [Strikes him] .... There, take it to you, trenchers, cups, and all. [He throws the food and dishes at them] (IV, i, 134-135 & 152) Petruchio's antics here are over-elaborated in the light of the situation, and even his wife feels his attitude is unnecessary, 'I pray you, husband, be not so disquiet' (IV, i, 155) A modern audience watching this play would find some of the antics over-exaggerated and the costumes bizarre, despite the fact it was theatre. Incidents such as servants exaggerating a fall or dramatising their reaction to someone striking them would be amusing, but may not be seen as a form or style of comedy nowadays. The theme of marriage brings humour to the play. The courtship of Katherina and Bianca, and the methods of wooing would amuse a modern audience as modern courtship is not as flamboyant and expressive as Petruchio introduced himself. Marriage is shown as a financial agreement in this play with love a secondary factor for marriage, and a 21st century audience may be shocked at how times have changed. Shakespeare's plays reflect the broad Elizabethan audiences, most of whom were academic and understood is plays in Latin, mixtures of tastes by their inclusion of violence, poetry, slapstick comedy, and depictions of real-life scenarios, e.g. Romeo and Juliet is a portrayal of the relationship between Anthony and Cleopatra. With all the humour, farce and drama in this comedic play, there are messages, moral and philosophical, that we can relate to in modern society. Firstly, the relationship between Petruchio and Katherina proves that love will eventually prevail as the reason for a marriage. Katherina's temper is less ferocious by the end of the play, and she learns to obey her husband, Petruchio, and appears to be not as volatile as she was before marrying Petruchio, and he has not offered her money or bribed her into being obedient. This proves that people can be tamed and that money is not the answer to everything 1 Sean Flynn 11KO ...read more.

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