Female Relationships in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Female Relationships in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Often in literature, parallels are used to accentuate certain things. William Shakespeare utilizes this tool in both The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In both of these comedic plays, there is a set of women who are at odds with each other. These relationships can be compared and contrasted in different aspects.

In Shakespeare’s, “The Taming of the Shrew” the relationship between the sisters Katherine and Bianca appears to be strained with rampant jealousy. Both daughters fight for the attentions of their father. In twisted parallel roles, they take turns being demure and hag-like. Father of the two, Baptista Minola, fusses with potential suitors for young Bianca and will not let them come calling until his elder, ill-tempered daughter Katherine is married. The reader is to assume that meek, mild-mannered, delicate Bianca is wasting away while her much older, aging, brutish sister torments the family with her foul tongue. Katherine seems to hold resentment toward Bianca. Her father favors Bianca over Katherine and keeps them away from eachothers’ torment. When gentlemen come calling, Bianca cowers behind her father and Katherine speaks up for herself. “I pray you sir, is it your will to make a stale of me amongst these mates?” (1.1.57-58)

Bianca and Katherine dislike each other feverishly. Katherine torments Bianca with words and physical harm. She binds her hands, pulls her hair then brings her forth to her father and the gentlemen callers. Bianca denies liking any of the visitors and portrays herself an innocent that merely wants to learn and obey her elders. She says, “Sister, content you in my discontent to y…

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… past was so quickly forgotten. “Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. I evermore did love you Hermia, Did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you ” (3. 2. 306 — 308) Hermia, however, feels hard done by. She feels that Helena has caused her true love to turn against her, and if Helena disappeared, everything would be fine. “Why, get you gone. Who is’t that hinders you?” (3. 2. 317) Helena also has the solution of running away, but can’t as she foolishly still loves Demetrius. Helena and Hermia’s relationship has changed completely, entirely because of the effect of the love potion on Lysander and Demetrius. The friendship shown before the argument contrasts greatly to the hostility afterwards. The change has been for the worse, completely destroying the women’s trust in each other, and all because of a fight between two men, caused by a mischievous spirit.

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