Petruchios assumption of power is a false one; Katharina is always in control. This is the central comic tenet of The Taming of the Shrew. To what extend do you agree?

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Petruchio’s assumption of power is a false one; Katharina is always in control. This is the central comic tenet of “The Taming of the Shrew”.

 How far do you agree that this is a fair assessment of the play?

At the beginning of the play, Katharina’s character (without any influence from Petruchio) is one of a, foul-tempered, sharp-tongued women. This was infrequent for women and Bianca’s suitors tell one another “To cart her rather: she’s too rough for me.” This informs the audience that when it comes to marriage Katharina is the last person on their mind as they prefer someone “gentle” and “mild” and not a woman who is “too rough for me.” As each man is speaking negatively of Katharina, it suggests that she has a sense of supremacy which is aimed at men. However, because no man has ever tried to control or speak to Katharina in a pleasant manner, they are then unsure of how she will react after marriage.   Initially, Katharina’s introduction is made through the mouthpiece of the insignificant male characters; it is important that Katharina is referred to rather than seen because this then keeps her actual personality a clandestine to the audience and allows judgement based on what they have heard. This is funny because, Katharina behaves in the manner in which she is described, so the audience’s discernment of her “shrewish” manner pervades the play.

There is an advantage to introducing and speaking of Katharina first and in a manner that shows her as superior to many, especially men, as this shows that Katharina is a woman who is bound to rule and hold potency over her partner. This is because, if she can silence her father from speaking, she can hold control over Petruchio, “Why, and I trust I may go too, may I not?” Here, Katharina is telling her father that she is to be included too. The fact that Katharina is shown to have verbal ascendancy over her male counterparts is important because it introduces the common comic trope of cuckoldry – a woman was not expected to have power over any man, let alone her father! This is effective in foreshadowing the introduction of Petruchio at a later time, inciting the audience to think whether any one will actually be able to “tame the shrew.”  

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During Act 2, whilst preparing for Katharina and Petruchio’s first meeting, Petruchio tells us that he will believe the opposite of whatever Katharina says about herself, "Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain/She sings as sweetly as a nightingale." Although both individuals stubbornly refuse to accept the things the other says, there is a clear similarity to what they say thus, showing how alike they are and the basis of their compatibility. At this point Petruchio thinks he has control over the conversation due to the way he speaks to Katharina in a mocking way. However, the ...

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