"An exploration of the way Shakespeare presents Katerina in the play".

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Dorhyn Cadiente                            

                                                          Shakespearean Play- YR12 Coursework

“ An exploration of the way Shakespeare presents Katerina in the play”

          Katerina is the female protagonist of the play and to me the second most interesting character in it, next only to abominable Petruchio. The way Shakespeare presents her is very complex, entertaining and open to interpretation. She had been given many roles in the play; daughter to Baptista, sister to Bianca, fiancée and wife to Petruchio, suitor’s worst nightmare, mistress to servants and of course the town Shrew.Kate is a complex character because Shakespeare had presented her so differently from other females of the period he lived in. Namely the time where a woman’s highest virtues are her abilities to be obedient, placid, meek, uncomplaining, and discreet, plus their abilities in the homemaking process and those mundane things, like playing the pianoforte, painting and sewing. But Kate, as numerous others of Shakespeare’s female protagonists, won’t stand these stereotypical assumptions. She is of no ‘gentler or milder mould’ and is considered very ‘froward’ and compared to the ‘devil’ himself. She flaunts convention and isn’t averse to quick thinking, wit, physical violence and strong language. Kate is a very determined character who taunts and mocks those people around her when she doesn’t get her way.

          Shakespeare presents Kate’s relationship and interaction with her family in a very steroetypical way. It is easily assumed that Baptista favors Bianca more than he does Katerina. It is also clear that this is having an adverse effect on his relationship with Kate. As a daughter Kate is benevolent, bitter and spiteful. Bianca, who she describes as ‘his treasure’and she on the as he says is a ‘devilish spirit’ don’t get along at all. He is a typical father who favors the more virtuous daughter than the clever one. This actually brings in mind King Lear and his three daughters, another play by Shakespeare, which question relationships, honesty and love. We don’t see her pay a lot of respect to Baptista because his character doesn’t seem to like Katerina at all. ‘Was ever gentlemen grieved as I’ says a lot to his parenting skills. He doesn’t try to understand Kate at all and a misunderstood child with that amount of spirit in her would naturally turn ‘mad’ especially since it rubs her that he shows so much affection to Bianca and none to her. Shakespeare presents Kate and Bianca as a relationship of opposites. Since Bianca’s characterization is of a ‘sweet’, ‘modest’, and ‘much priced’ lady she contrasts sharply to Kate’s characterization which is of a ‘froward’ and ‘stark mad’, wench. They are of complete opposites and one assumes that Shakespeare did this deliberately to emphasize Katerina’s character traits. As a sister she is much punishing and a bit of a bully who is not averse to using force to get what she wants, as the audience sees in Act 2, Scene 1. But behind all this we get the sense that Bianca is much smarter than that and taunts Katerina on what she cannot have. Sadly Katerina lacks that insight which suggests that Bianca maybe much smarter or else more calculating than her emotionally spurred sister does. Shakespeare probably made this relationship to make the audience more sympathetic to Katerina as we finally see what is behind her shrewish behavior.

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          Shakespeare presents the audience with scenes where we see Katerina interacting with Bainca’s suitors in an amusing way. Scornful and volubly abusive, this may stem from her jealousy that her sister has suitors and Katerina has none. But inspite that she still couldn’t tolerate ‘these mates’ and said that she would rather ‘comb your noodle with a three legged stool and paint your face and use you like a fool.’ They, on the other hand also can’t tolerate her, ‘Katherine the curst’. They think that even with her dowry, which is quite considerable, ‘any ...

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