The Taming of the Shrew
The Main Desire Of Hortensio In Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew
Striving for True Desires
Sometimes aiming for basic, minimal goals instead of striving for greater desires produces sub-standard results. In the case of Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, Hortensio’s only goal is simply to marry. In a want to marry quickly, Hortensio sacrifices quality to achieve this goal; instead of striving for his true desire, he settles for an easy-to-get widow, giving him much trouble later on.
In the beginning of the play, Hortensio wants to marry Bianca, his ultimate desire and prize, but Lucentio appears to beat Hortensio in the race for Bianca’s hand. Settling for defeat, Hortensio declares he will not pursue Bianca anymore: “Here I firmly vow/ Never to woo her more” (4.2.28-29). By giving up his pursuit for Bianca, Hortensio is going to pursue a wife that is not as desirable as Bianca is, but easier to win over. Instead of fighting for Bianca’s hand to demonstrate his strengths, he cowers behind a thin veil of defeat. This retreat, causing problems for Hortensio later on, forces Hortensio to give up his true desire in exchange for a lesser one. When Hortensio will only “have a lusty widow now” (4.2.52), he is settling for a lesser desire. Winning over the widow may be easier than winning over Bianca, but Hortensio does not take into consideration his troubles as a future husband of the widow. The widow is Hortensio’s secondary option in marriage, and not his true desire. By settling for an easier bride to achieve his goal of marriage, Hortensio commits a mistake. Hortensio is settling for a wife that he does not truly desire, undermining the quality of the marriage. Hortensio thinks that he will easily be able to handle the widow, a wife that he does not truly love, but that does not go well.
Hortensio’s second choice wife actually causes him more trouble. In order to improve his chances of a good marriage, Hortensio attends a wife taming school where “Petruchio is the master” (4.2.58), showing that his second choice wife is causing him more trouble. Instead of concentrating his efforts on winning over Bianca, a cause that is not completely lost, Hortensio simply gives up at the smallest sign of failure to win over Bianca. Giving up Bianca forces Hortensio to choose the widow as his wife, which later causes him troubles, which in turn forces him to learn how to tame her. In addition, when Hortensio’s wife disobeys him when “she will not come” (5.2.103), she is proving that his choice to settle for the widow is causing him more trouble. This scene proves that by settling for a wife that he does not truly desire, Hortensio is creating a marriage in which the wife does not obey the husband. This stems from Hortensio’s lack of desire for the widow, as Hortensio does not have the willpower to implement any of the wife-taming skills learned from Petruchio’s “school” to tame his older and more experienced wife, a wife that he does not love. Thus, the trouble caused by Hortensio’s second-choice wife makes settling for the widow—who is easier to win over than Bianca is—an illogical choice.
In his bid to achieve his goal of getting married, Hortensio sets aside his true desires to achieve this goal quicker, resulting in many troubles later on. By only wanting to marry, he seeks easier results instead quality ones. By giving up Bianca and instead pursuing a widow, Hortensio ignores his true wish, to achieve his goal of marriage through a simpler path. Achieving goals through easy shortcuts produces less than desired results.
The Taming Of The Shrew And Kate’s Transformations
In The Taming of the Shrew, Kate, an opinionated young woman meets Petruchio, a witty young man with a crude sense of humor. Together, they tease each other endlessly but still love and care for eachother. Even though they put each other down and Petruchio often degrades Kate through his inappropriate jokes, it is clear that they are just playfully teasing each other. Through the play, Petruchio transforms Katie from a “shrew” into an obedient wife, which is shown in Kate’s final speech.
Kate and Petruchio’s constant teasing reminds me of how 5 year olds flirt; they are only mean because they like each other. Their relationship also reminds me of a bickering married couple. Even though they’re mean to each other, the love is still there. Rude remarks are thrown around. However, they always have a sense of humor behind them.
At the end of the play, Kate delivers a final speech. In this speech she says that wives should submit to their husbands and obey by their rules, which is something Kate never would have said at the beginning of the play. I believe that she does not truly mean what she is saying, and that she is just telling everyone what they want to hear. Deep down, Kate and Petruchio still have that love-hate relationship.
Throughout the play, Petruchio and Kate constantly tease and bicker at each other. Even though it is far from the typical relationship, everyone has a different way of showing their love. I believe that their love is true, and that Petruchio succeeds in taming Kate to a certain level. She loses her arrogant side, but her sharp personality is still there. Together, they make the perfect couple.
Representation of Clothing as a method to tackle the main issues in Taming of the Shrew
Through in-depth examination and analysis, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew have both controversial and debatable motifs. In this play, clothing is one of the most significant elements that has been repeatedly illustrated. In Act 4 Scene 3, Petruchio, Kate’s persistent fiancé and later on husband used clothing as a device to counteract her wife’s “shrewdness” and unpleasant behavior. Aside from the famous argument scene in Act 4 Scene 3, there are other instances in the play where clothing has been associated with ill-natured schemes. These events are deception of Christopher Sly and disguises performed by Lucentio, Tranio and Hortensio to win Bianca’s hand in marriage. In this essay, I would explore how clothing was exploited as a tool for deception, concealing someone’s true identity and mockery. I would also further discuss a literary analysis and include a cinematic interpretation of the certain passage (4.3.61-190).
At the beginning of the play, Induction Scene 1, Christopher Sly becomes the object of the Lord’s attention when he discovered him in a state of drunkenness; “What here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe? (1.28). In this scene, we do not know what the Lord’s intention was for approaching Sly, but he must have been appalled by his drunken appearance which prompted him to say, “Oh monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies” (1.30). He then hatched a deceptive plan to dress Sly as a noble man, “Sirs, I will practice on this drunken man” (1.32). In this moment, it is ambiguous to us the true motive of the Lord’s actions towards Sly’s noble transformation, however, it was apparent that clothing become a critical component to make Sly believe into a fake persona. Furthermore, he also commanded the page to pretend as Sly’s wife by dressing up as a lady; “Sirrah, go you to Barthol’mew my page, And dressed in all suits like a lady” (1.101-102). Clothing was regarded as an primary device not only to deceive Sly but also manipulate his weakened state; “Wrapped in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers…” (34-37). Back in Elizabethan period, low class citizens are prohibited from wearing clothes above their station through sumptuary laws . The main purposes of these laws were to protect English businesses from foreign traders and put a clear distinction between different social classes. The Lord’s attempt to dress Sly into a nobleman was a complete breach of this law and might have implicated him.
Clothing was used as a powerful garment to conceal someone’s true identity. Lucentio and Hortensio who were vying for Bianca’s attention had choosen to hide their true identity through the use of wardrobe to become her private tutors. The two suitors decided to impersonate an authorative figure that has a direct contact with Bianca because that’s the only way they can successfully woo her without her father’s disapproval. Bianca’s father, Baptista was determined to marry off Kate first that he prohibited Gremio and Hortensio from courting Bianca in these lines, “Gentlemen importune me no farther…” (1.1.48-54). Aside from Bianca’s two daring suitors, Lucentio’s personal servant Tranio was also entangled with the whole wooing scheme. For Lucentio to succeed in his plans, he ordered Tranio to take on his noble identity by putting on his raiment; “Tranio, at once Uncase thee. Take my colored hat and cloak” (1.1.200-201). The clothing given to Tranio in this scene was regarded as a representation of Lucentio’s status in society. By simply putting on Lucentio’s wardrobe, Tranio has immediately transformed from a lowly servant into a rich nobleman.
According to Susan Baker, the implementation of Elizabethan sumptuary laws and prohibition of “crossdressing reminds us that Renaissance clothing participated in an elaborate system of signifying rank, gender, occupation, allegiance (household)—in sum, one’s place in social order” (313). I agree on Baker’s statement here that clothing itself is in fact a symbol for individual’s hierarchal position in Shakespeare’s society. When Lucentio, Tranio and Hortensio embark to portray fake identities, their actions reflected upon the status of the clothes they wear. For instance, during a conversation with Baptista and Gremio, Tranio acted like he is actually Lucentio when he said; “I am my father’s heir and only son” (2.1.356). By proclaiming that he was Lucentio, Tranio had flawlessly transform into a noble man. Through this moment, we can see how significant and powerful clothing symbolizes in Shakespeare’s era.
Another way that clothing was illustrated in Taming of the Shrew was through Petruchio’s mockery of Kate in Act 4 Scene 3 with the presence of the Tailor, Haberdasher, Grumio and Hortensio. In the midst of male spectators, Petruchio resorted to insult Kate through the use of clothing to negate her ill-tempered or “shrewish” behaviour. Margaret Jaster commented on this saying; “Alone in the presences of these males, Katherina must endure slurs to her social position and her chastity” (102). Petruchio not only humiliated her in front of his male colleagues but also mock her by saying “A velvet dish. Fie, fie, ‘tis lewd and filthy….” (4.3.65-67). Margaret Jaster also said that, “Petruchio taunts Katherina with food words as well as sexual innuendoes” (102). She further emphasized that “linking the image of sex and food reminds Katherina and the audience in his role as a husband, Petruchio controls the necessities of Katherina’s life” (103). After the couples heated argument, Petruchio then cunningly used a clothing analogy to calm her wife down; “What is the jay more precious than the lark …” (4.3.169-175). He then asserted to Kate that physical garment does not define an individual’s character; “Even in these honest habiliments …” (4.3.164-166). In this scene, Margaret Jaster commented that “Petruchio’s insistence on humble apparel at this point is yet another blow at the social status of Katherina and her family” (104). In the end, Petruchio had succeeded in his plan in controlling her wife’s rebellious behaviour by employing clothing as a weapon to negate her.
Further literary analysis of the tailor scene in Act 4 Scene 3 revealed that the tenor of discourse between Kate and Petruchio was blank verse where every line is composed of 10 syllables. However, there were certain parts in the passage where Petruchio’s lines showed moments of tumbling and truncation. For example, after Kate’s response (lines 69-70) of liking the hat despite of Petruchio’s criticism, we will notice that Petruchio’s response got shorten in line 72. Margaret Rose Jaster commented on this line in her article saying that “Petruchio’s play on Katherina’s words slights her social position and intimates that she thwarts her master with her supposed recalcitrance” (103). Another instance where Petruchio’s lines did not adhere to the 10-syllabic rule was found in line 106 where there’s 13 syllables in that specific line. It was also observed in the passage that the dialogue among Petruchio, Grumio and the Tailor did not follow the standard 10-syllable line order. This was apparent in beginning of line 129 till 159 where the number of syllables are varied in each line.
Another form of literary elements that was incorporated in the Tailor scene passage include word repetitions and use of figurative language or tropes. Most of these literary components usually appeared in Petruchio’s lines. One of the repetitive techniques that was used was Anaphora where same words are used at the beginning of every clauses. This technique was observed in Petruchio’s part in lines 88-89, 107-108 and 113. In addition, the use of Epizeuxis was also detected in some of Petruchio’s lines where he repeatedly said the word “fie” (65,157) .
He also employed the use of figurative language such as metaphor in lines (166-67), (169-71) and onomatopoeia in line 90. In terms of narrative point of view, both Petruchio and Kate’s dialogue is said in first and second person whereas the Tailor, Grumio, and Hortensio used variation of first, second, and third person pronouns.
The structure of the choosen passage in Act 4 Scene 3 could be compared with the structure of the play as a whole where it includes Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action and Denouement. In the passage, we can consider the entrance of the Tailor and Haberdasher as the Prologue and then the Conflict would be the hat argument between Petruchio and Kate. The Rising Action would be the intense dialogue of Petruchio about Kate’s gown in lines 106-113. Then the Denouement would culminate upon the exit of the Tailor then followed by Petruchio and Kate’s conversation in lines 163-189. When it comes to the movement of the passage it can be described as circular since at the beginning of the Tailor scene we are confronted with Petruchio and Kate’s hat argument (64-85) and then at the end of the passage (184-189) we are once again going back to the two characters to witness their reconciliation. The passage movement could also be iterative in the sense that it involves Petruchio’s repetitive complaints of certain pieces of clothing.
To visually understand the Tailor scene in Act 4 Scene 3, I would discuss a visual analysis on the movie The Taming of the Shrew that was released in 1967 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The scenes that I have choosen appeared in this timeframe (1:28:17 to 32:10). In the movie, the Tailor scene begins where the camera shows Petruchio holding Kate’s right arm while Kate is holding a letter about her sister’s wedding. In this moment, although Kate’s body is facing the audience, her eye contact is fixed on Petruchio. Meanwhile, Petruchio’s body position is facing towards Kate while he’s informing her about the Tailor’s arrival. In terms of the background scenery, there were 2 servants on the left corner and a dish cabinet in the center implying that they are in a living room. Moving on, Petruchio then grabbed Kate’s right arm leading her to the room where the Tailor was.
Then a jump cut occurred where the scene moves forward to the room showing the tailor, haberdasher and their assistants in a busy atmosphere. Suddenly the scene changes again showing a surprised Kate entering the door first which was then followed by Petruchio. She dropped the letter on the floor and covered her mouth with her hands while looking shocked at the scenario that she had seen. Kate’s position here is facing towards the room where the tailors are. Then a jump cut scene followed where it showed a room where the tailors and assistants are bowing down. The camera’s focus went back to Kate, then we see Petruchio and Grumio’s entrance at the door. In this moment, Kate touches Petruchio’s left arm and then he steps forward and said the lines “come tailor” (61-62). The scene again goes back to show the Tailor and hatmaker quickly grabbing their stuff and then the camera went back to Petruchio, Kate and Grumio walking closer at the center of the room. We are then showed a close up shot of the hat maker facing the audience and another tailor behind him. In this scene, the hatmaker said exactly the same textual lines (63) that was in the play.
Then the camera changes showing the hatmaker holding the hat in front of Kate and Petruchio while Grumio and another servant were looking behind the back. Still at the same scene where the characters are looking at the hat, Petruchio started saying bad remarks about the hat while Kate looks adoringly at the hat with her hands clasp together. Kate then immediately grabs the cap while her back faces the camera and then she returns to face the hatmaker. Then suddenly Petruchio grabs the cap away from her and said; “fie, fie, velvet dish ‘tis lewd” (65). The camera then went back to show Kate and Tailor’s shock faces while they were saying the word “lewd” in a high tone voice in unison. The camera switch back again to Petruchio saying his lines found in 66-68 while Grumio sort of agreeing at the back. Petruchio then throw the cap at the hat maker while Kate and the rest are showing a shocked facial expression.
In continuation, the camera shows Kate grabbing the hat from the tailor while saying the word “I’ll have no bigger” (69) in a high-pitched voice and then the camera follows her walking towards the mirror. She then removes her headdress and tries on the cap. The camera then focuses on Petruchio and moves along with him while walking towards Kate. Petruchio then removes the hat from Kate’s head and said; “When you are gentle, you shall have one too” (71-72). The scene then changes to focus Kate with her hair down looking dismayed then suddenly she angrily responded to Petruchio by saying; “Why, sir, I trust I may have leave speak” (73-74). She is saying this line while Petruchio is unshown in the camera. While she’s continuing to argue, the camera changes direction to show Petruchio taking a sword from a wall and then the focus goes back to her still talking and the camera moves along with her while moving closer to Petruchio. Right after that, her position is now facing the audience while Grumio suddenly appears behind her back along with the tailors seen in the background. The camera then moves back and forth between Petruchio and Kate until we get to the part where Petruchio strikes the sword down on the table with the breaking sound in the background. Kate then looked shocked and covered her mouth with her hands while the hatmaker fainted and was carried away by Grumio and the two other assistants. Then the other servant closes the door upon their exit.
Afterward, the camera focuses on Petruchio’s smiling face. He then sits back on a chair and ask the tailor to uncover the gown that was right beside him. The tailor hurriedly comes closer and uncovered the gown. The camera then showed Kate’s expressionless face and then returns back to Petruchio where he stands up while the tailor was looking happily at the gown. Petruchio then started touching the gown and criticize it by saying “Oh, mercy, God, what masking stuff is here?” (87-92). Meanwhile the tailor stands behind the gown saying his lines in 94-95. Then we move on to the scene where Petruchio starts ripping off the gown violently. The camera then goes back to Kate showing her horrified face and then goes back to Petruchio still ripping the gown and then go back again to Kate focusing on her dismayed expression. A Lap Dissolve then occur when Kate’s face fades out. The next scenes revealed a cluttered room focusing on the gown on the left corner then the camera starts moving on the right side showing Kate sitting on the corner feeling sad about the horrid situation. Then suddenly Petruchio appeared and starts to console her and says lines in 163-176. At the end of his speech he then called Grumio and starts miming a sewing action to hint Grumio to call back the tailor. Then he exits the room while saying to Kate the words “therefore frolic” (176).
In comparison to the play, the movie was consistent on using the original text, however some of the lines in the play were omitted which was probably due to time frame set up for the movie. Another observation was that Hortensio’s part was cut out, but overall the movie delivered an excellent portrayal of the original scenes in the play.
Women and power in Shakespearean drama Taming of the Shrew
Kate’s difficult personality and behavior are not entirely due to the lack of love she receives. In fact, Kate’s problematic persona is caused by her self-absorption. For the first time in Kate’s life, when she is headed off with Petruchio, she sees others being verbally abused by someone other than herself, as Petruchio seemingly presents himself as an even worse shrew than herself. At this point in the play, we begin to see the transformation in Kate’s character. As Kate first witnesses the abuse Petruchio delivers onto his servants when they bring out the “burnt” meat, she begins to feel compassion and sorrow for the servants. Despite Petruchio’s utter rebuke of the meat, Kate insists that it is okay saying, “I pray you, husband, be not so disquiet”. In fact, due to his harsh words towards the cook, Kate tries to reason with him. On one hand, Kate is starved at this point and is saying anything to fill her stomach, but on the other hand, she does not refer to her own selfish need of hunger but instead defends the cook’s mistake. Again, when Petruchio belittles the tailor, Kate expresses the same emotion. This willingness to step outside of her own selfishness in order to defend someone reflects her ability to emphasize, something we had never seen of her character until this point.
As she continues to become less selfish and more aware of others, her ability to show love also grows. As Petruchio and Kate first arrive back at her father’s home, Petruchio motions for a kiss. When Kate refuses the first time, Petruchio asks, “What, art thou ashamed of me?” (5.2.137). She responds with, “No, sir, God forbid, but ashamed to kiss” (5.2.138). This signifies to the reader that Kate is not against kissing Petruchio, but rather it’s her feelings towards public displays of affection during this time period that keeps her from initially kissing Petruchio. Moreover, this resistance could also relate to Kate’s not knowing how to show or use affection due to the lack of love she previously felt from Bianca and especially her father. Kate’s response to the question of Kate’s embarrassment towards Petruchio is significant in its own right because it additionally expresses her sincerity towards Petruchio as a husband. She uses the expression “God forbid” which emphasizes her objection to the claim she feels ashamed of him. Throughout this scene and the progression of the play, the audience begins to see that Kate has truly fallen in love with Petruchio. In the next line, she again proves her love to him: she puts Petruchio over the shame of public affection when she kisses him, proving Kate’s willingness to make Petruchio happy. In fact, Kate’s willingness is more than just a desire to stay at her father’s house; her word choice proves this. She refers to Petruchio as “love” before she kisses him. Her use of affectionate language and her willingness to show their affection in public, something deemed extremely inappropriate at the time, signifies that she has fallen in love with Petruchio.
With her new understanding, Kate’s actions and words begin to change, but not her personality. While she may have stopped her temper tantrums and her nastiness towards others, she is still spirited. When Petruchio and Kate are on their walk to Kate’s father’s house, Petruchio tries to make the point that she should be in submission to him as he refers to the sun as the moon and the moon as the sun. Kate, confused at first, begins to recognize his quarrelsomeness as playfulness, and she reacts with a parallel intricate outburst of her own. She addresses his absurdity by saying, “But sun it is not when you say it is not, / And the moon changes even as you change your mind”. It’s important to note here that if she had been completely broken of spirit by his ‘taming,’ she would have simply agreed without hesitation, but instead, she made a show of his nonsensicalness. This interesting scene shows the playfulness between the two and the developed give and take in their relationship. If this is not evidence enough, you see her still playfully argumentative nature when she says, “And so it shall be still for Katherine. By not accepting the nickname Petruchio has given to her, she proves that she is still independent of him. She is capable of being a submissive wife, but still her own, feisty self as well. Her playfulness and feistiness are further shown as they approach Lucentio’s father. She does not say anything when Petruchio makes the ridiculous claim that the main is really a woman; instead, she plays along with Petruchio calling the man a, “young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet”.
The fact that she is so willing to play along with Petruchio’s crazy remarks proves she has not lost her spunk. Kate’s final speech at the end of the play is the ‘final test’ of Petruchio’s taming school. Just like the particular use of the word “love,” Kate’s word choices in the final speech of the play is the ultimate proof that she is truly in love with Petruchio and sincere in what she says to the two women. In her decisive speech, as she describes a husband to Bianca and the widow, she states, “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, they keeper, / Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee”. The first part of this important line reflects society’s views of marriage at the time of this play; however, the last part of this description shows Kate’s sincerity. The description, “one that cares for thee,” indicates her acknowledgment, despite Petruchio’s crazy antics, that he truly cares for her. We know this is not sarcastic because if she had meant it to be sarcastic, this admission of being cared for would have seemed out of place and misguided.
Furthermore, not only has her realization of her love for Petruchio flourished, her ability to empathize has continued to progress as well throughout the play. In the last scene, as she gives her speech to Bianca and the widow, this emergent compassion is once again revealed. During the speech, Kate begins to chide the behavior of Bianca and the widow towards their husbands by explaining their behavior through their husband’s eyes. Kate recognizes that her husband is working hard in order to care for her. This admission goes further than just recognition of a husband’s willingness to work hard and to provide for his wife because she also claims that her willingness to be submissive and loving is “too little payment for so great a debt”. This scene also serves a different purpose for Kate. For Kate, always being told Bianca is the more desirable sister, this scene is her moment to shine over her sister. It becomes apparent throughout the play, especially towards the end, that Bianca isn’t as submissive as previously believed. When Lucentio calls for Bianca, she refuses to come, but Kate comes immediately when her husband calls for her. Through Bianca’s refusal to come when called, Shakespeare suggests that this marriage will be hard on Lucentio. Bianca might turn out to be as stubborn in her role as a wife as she was mild in her role as a maid. Thus, in his last few lines, Petruchio observes, “We three are married, but you two are sped”. That is, the other two—Lucentio and Hortensio—seem destined for unhappiness in marriage, given the disobedient natures of their wives. Petruchio fought tooth and nail to finally win Kate, but he worked hard only because he wanted her to truly allow herself to accept, or choose, obedience in married life. Lucentio, deceived by Bianca’s meekness and flirtatious behavior when they were single, now finds that it is “harsh hearing when women are forward”.
Very few women, especially during Shakespeare’s time and even now, would be willing to risk humiliation for themselves or others unless they have a strong personality. Kate talks at length with a strong presence that captivates her audience, further proving that she is still the feisty woman she had been at the very beginning of the play, but, since then, she has transformed; she has new understanding. She now recognizes marriage as a partnership – a give and take. While in this society a woman is asked to be obedient, it is not without men serving women as well. This same spunk is reflected at other times in the same speech despite its strong patriarchal message. The fact that neither the women nor the men immediately argue back is a reflection of Kate’s continuing authoritative demeanor. She uses such piercing words in her speech such as “foul contending rebel” and “graceless traitor,” which again are not met with any challenge. In fact, she’s as full of strength now as she is in the beginning, if not more since she now understands the time and place to present this feisty side.
Throughout the play, Kate’s character has transformed from a callous shrew to an empathetic, playful, and submissive, yet fierce, wife. In the final act of the play, despite Kate’s apparent anti-feminist talk, Kate has not become a completely broken weak-willed woman. She still has the passion and energy she began with, but with a realization that her actions affect others. She also has learned how to love by being loved. Though she evolves in her ideas and actions, her personality is essentially the same as it is in the beginning with the addition of empathy and love. She is still willing and able to fight; however, she now does it with a tact and poise, which is no longer met with dispute. Though it is arguably Petruchio who helps her along the journey, if she hadn’t desired love from the beginning, her transformation would not have occurred as successfully.
Similarities between Taming of the Shrew and 10 Thing I Hate About You
Taming of the Shrew and 10 Thing I Hate About You are two very similar films. One just so happens to be made in 1967 and the other in 1999. The characters in 10 things are put in a number of indistinguishable situations to those in taming of the shrew. While the setting and time period are contrastive, they represent the original point that is meant to get across.
In the play Taming of the Shrew the main characters are a man named Petruchio who wants to marry Katherine, who has a bad temper. Then there is Lucentio, who is in love with Bianca, Katherine’s pure, loving, kind, younger sister, and will do anything to win her over. In 10 Things I Hate about You, we have Patrick, who falls in love with Kat, a bad-tempered girl, and Cameron, who falls in love with Bianca Stratford, a loving girl and who happens to be Kat’s younger sister. The characters in the play and their counterparts in the movie are similar and so are their relationships. Also, in the end Kat becomes tamed just like Katherine does in the play. In 10 Things I hate about you, the couples are younger and the relationships are less serious than they are in Taming of the Shrew. However, in Taming of the Shrew and 10 Things I Hate about You, they both have the exact same plot.
The plot of Taming of the Shrew is that Lucentio, Gremio, and Hortensio want to marry a girl named Bianca. The only thing standing in their way is her older sister Katherine, who her father says has to get married before Bianca does. So they set off to find a husband for Katherine, and they find Petruchio.
He eagerly marries her, but at first he does it only for the dowry given by Baptista. Over time, however, Petruchio and Katherine develop feelings for each other and they have a good relationship. On the other hand, in the movie 10 things I hate about you, Cameron, Joey, and Michael want to win Bianca, and the only thing standing in their way is her father who says Kat has to date before Bianca can. So they find Patrick Verona whom they pay to date Kat. Over time, though, Patrick and Kat develop feelings for each other like Petruchio and Katherine did. Another difference was the way they were paid. Petruchio got money from the dowry, whereas Joey paid Patrick to take Kat out on a date. However the plot is relatively the same in every other way.
The relationships between servants and masters
The relationships between servants and masters closely reflect the gender relationships in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Lucentio and Tranio’s relationship as master and servant is an ideal of the Renaissance era. Tranio risks taking the place of his master because of his love for him and Lucentio always treats him with kindness and respect, almost like an equal. Lucentio’s relationship with Bianca reflects his role with Tranio: Bianca shows respect for Lucentio as he cherishes her and treats her with kindness. However, Bianca fails to complete her role as an ideal wife by obeying her husband. however Petruchio and his servant, Grumio, have a much different relationship. Grumio often disobeys his master, while Petruchio insults and even beats him. These roles are echoed in Petruchio’s relationship with Katherine. Shakespeare uses Lucentio and Tranio’s relationship in the play as an ideal for both the master and servant relationship as well as gender relationships. Though Lucentio is the master, he always treats Tranio with respect and kind words. Tranio demonstrates his obedience in part because he is a good servant, but mostly due to the fact that Lucentio treats him so kindly. Though Tranio takes great risk in putting on the apparel of his master, he takes it in order to please Lucentio. Tranio did not wish to be master but rather to have his master’s wish for Bianca to be granted. He does not abuse his temporary power as master with the other servants and continues to treat them as his equals except when he must keep up his pretense around the public. Tranio even goes as far to have Vicentio imprisoned in order to do as Lucentio told him. Tranio’s obedience goes first and foremost to Lucentio even above his higher master, Vincentio. This supports the idea that Tranio does this because of Lucentio’s kindness for him. Lucentio, in turn for his servant’s obedience, takes the blame for all the lies told and role reversals, begging his father not to harm his faithful servant, Tranio. Lucentio’s treatment of Tranio is reflected in his treatment of Bianca and their role as man and woman. Lucentio never mistreats Bianca in anyway but spends the play wooing her and showing her his love. However, Bianca does not completely mimic Tranio’s obedience in her role as wife to Lucentio. Though Bianca is not as stubborn willed and shrewish as her sister, Katherine, she does not obey her husband when he calls her to him. His relationship with Tranio differs slightly from Bianca, Tranio’s servant hood is more apparent and selfless. Petruchio, however, does not treat his servant, Grumio, or wife, Katherine, with love and respect. The scenes that introduce Petruchio and Lucentio begin by depicting their relationships with their servants, as if foreshadowing the way that they will treat their respective wives. Grumio misunderstands his master when he asks him to knock on Hortensio’s gate, after asking just one question Petruchio already loses his temper. After arguing for a while, Petruchio even rings him by the ear. Later in the play, Petruchio also strikes Grumio and his other servants. Though he never physically strikes Katherine, he starves her, doesn’t let her sleep, and embarasses her in public. Petruchio’s role with her and Grumio are sadly similar. Both Katherine and Grumio, however, do not do their part to be obedient and kind servants to Petruchio. Not until the very end of the play does Katherine finally give in to Petruchio’s demands and act kind to him. She constantly lashes out during his wooing, and his proclamations of love to her, though they are shown in an uncaring way. Katherine and Grumio for the most part, however, act the way they do because Petruchio treats them how he does. Shakespeare may have changed Katherine to speak like she has adopted the right traits of a wife by the end of the play, but it is not clear that Petruchio ever changes his attitudes to be a protective and caring leader. It is clear that out of the four relationships, the servant/master relationship of Tranio and Lucentio is closest to that of the ideals of the Christian people in Shakespeare’s time. Even though disarray is formed as Lucentio trades roles with Tranio, the audience can still see the humble heart of Tranio and his love for his master: a relationship that is the ideal for husbands and wives as well.
Social hierarchy and relationship concepts In Taming of the Shrew
In Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare employs strategies in the play that demonstrate the instability of the characters due to their dependence on social hierarchy and relationship concepts. To emphasize this idea, the play continuously incorporates deception. The social positions of the characters are all defined by their wealth, gender, and profession.
The society enforces the way the characters should behave and live due to their social positions; therefore, most characters stem away from their social position by employing a disguise to achieve personal happiness. Kate’s sacrifice with social expectations leads her to personal happiness. Kate increases her social standing, while her sister, Bianca, decreases her social standing. To demonstrate the first example of deception and disguise, Christopher Sly, a drunk man at the bar, is being deceived by the Lord. The Lord tells the huntsmen in the bar, Would the beggar then forget himselfPersuade him that he hath been a lunaticFor he is nothing but a mighty lord (Taming, Induction.1, 40-64). The Lord commands his men to disguise Sly into a nobleman by dressing him in wealthy clothes and having a meal of the finest foods brought to him when he awakens in the Lord’s bed. Although he was always a drunken beggar, Sly believes he is a lord once he is properly dressed and notices the luxurious life he can have if he was an actual lord.
While still being unaware of reality, he is informed that he has a wife and uses the entire situation as a way of trying to lure women into bed. Sly is being tamed by a life of luxury, and at this point, Sly, the servants, and the Lord are all applying deception within the play. The reason behind Shakespeare’s use of this scene is to prepare the readers for the next events of taming and transforming. Another example of deception and character instability involves Bianca and her suitors. Bianca is the sister of Katherine Minola, the shrew, and daughter of Baptista Minola, a rich man from Padua, Italy. Bianca’s suitors, Gremio and Hortensio, accompany her wherever she goes. During a family outing in Padua, Lucentio arrives with his servant, Tranio. Lucentio notices Bianca and falls in love with her. He moves closer to her; however, he overhears Baptista saying, That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter Before I have a husband for the elder (Taming, I.ii, 50-51). Lucentio and Tranio develop a plan to deceive Bianca’s family in order to marry her. Lucentio will occupy the social role of lowly scholar, and Tranio will occupy the role of Lucentio as a lord. Lucentio’s disguise enables him to transgress the barrier that exist due to the difference in social class between him and Bianca. Baptista agrees to their marriage, but he decides he wants to meet Lucentio’s father to confirm his intentions. Tranio and Lucentio find a traveling scholar who they convince to impersonate Lucentio’s father, Vincentio, in order for Lucentio to gain Baptista’s approval. A moment of irony arises when Lucentio’s real father arrives in Padua, searching for his son. When the real Vincentio arrives at Lucentio’s door, he is distraught at the fact that his own son, along with the traveling scholar, Tranio, and Biondello, all have denied him of being Lucentio’s real father. Once married, Lucentio reveals to everyone how he has been deceiving them by saying; Here’s Lucentio, Right son to the right Vincentio, that have by marriage made thy daughter mine (V.i, 107-109). Lucentio not only deceived Baptista by lying that he is a schoolmaster, but that the man who possess the position of his father is not really his father.
Tranio simply sabotaged a man into disguising himself as the father of Lucentio, in order to gain Baptista’s trust. Even though Lucentio gains his happiness through deceit, he causes his father to suffer. His father, Vincentio, thought his son was killed since Tranio, his servant, was wearing Lucentio’s clothes. Once he meets his son, he is disciplined by Tranio and Biondello and threatened to be sent to jail if he doesn’t cooperate to their personally valuable comprehension of life. Vincentio is being punished and becomes powerless due to Lucentio’s acts of deceit to reach his own desired happiness. Both Lucentio’s and Bianca’s relationship with her fathers is anguished due to the amount of deception and disguise performed by the characters. Another key point to emphasize the instability of the characters is the relationship of Petruchio and Kate. According to Baptista, to marry Bianca, someone must marry Kate first. Kate is frustrated with her life, and because of her behavior and lack of expectations, she faces disapproval and is labeled a shrew. Luckily, there is a man from Verona, Petruchio, who arrives in Padua and is seeking a wife. He speaks to Baptista, who is seeking a husband for Kate, and they agree that Petruchio shall be the one to win her love and marry her. I’ll attend her here and woo her with some spirit when she comes. I’ll tell her plain she sings like a nightingaleshe looks as clear as morning roses I’ll crave the day when I shall ask the banns and when be married (II.i, 168-180). Lucentio assures Baptista that he plans to woo Kate, even if he must use deceit and sentimentality. Petruchio will not be affected by deceiving Kate, because of the substantial settlement he will receive from Baptista. After proving his love to Kate, Baptista agrees for them to marry her. During the wedding ceremony, Petruchio’s deception of Kate causes him to embarrass her at the altar. Following the ceremony, Petruchio takes her to his home, where he will begin to tame her. Their journey to his home is not pleasant, and neither is the arrival at the house. Petruchio temps Kate with fine food and slumber, as a way of depriving her of sleep, food, and sex. Petruchio says; Thus I have politically begun my reign My falcon now is sharp and passing empty, and till she stoop she must not be full-gorged (IV, i, 176-179). Petruchio later admits to the audience that he is lying to Kate and acting as a cruel man, but he is still showing her love and affection. He will continue to deceive his wife until she is fully obedient and loyal to him.
Towards the end, when Petruchio and Kate return to Baptista’s home, Petruchio tests all the wives to see which will obey their husband. Lucentio calls for Bianca, the perfect woman throughout the play. However, the servant returns saying, Sir, my mistress send you word, That she is busy and she cannot comePray God, sir, your wife send you not a worse (V, ii, 84-89). Bianca, who behaved like the perfect woman and wife, became a shrewish wife, who did not obey her husband, while Kate obeys her husband’s demand and comes to him. Correspondingly, Kate states Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeperone that cares for theewhat is she but a foul contending rebel and graceless traitor to her loving lord (V.ii, 150-164). Her development is governed by her adaption to her new social role with Petruchio as a wife. She decides to comply with Petruchio and his deceiving acts of love and control, because at the end, she will be happy. If she accepts her new social obligations, then she will be accepted by those who did not accept her before she married Petruchio. Kate’s development into happiness is determined by her adaptation to her new social role as a wife. She conforms with Petruchio’s humiliating treatment of her because she will end up happier than she has been. Her new obligations, whether she likes them or not, have made her community appreciate her more as a woman, than a shrew, in her society. A possible theory of Kate’s character can be that she has been in disguise all along, acting as a shrew. She wanted to find someone who would be with her and take her away from her families’ mistreatment and social role as a wealthy maiden. At the end of the play, Kate loses her disguise and becomes happy with her life. All the scenes and characters’ treatments of each other echo one another. The Lord treats Christopher Sly as someone who he is not and makes Sly feel deranged. Tranio, Biondello, and Lucentio use the same verdict on Vincentio when he comes to great his biological son. Petruchio uses a similar verdict when he behaved in a way that was opposite of what Kate said and meant. Similarly, most of the characters have disguised themselves to change their social station.
Some characters increased their social roles, while others have decreased them. Christopher Sly increase in social standing by transforming from a drunk and a beggar into a lord. Lucentio’s social role decreases because he begins as a lord and transforms into a working-class tutor. His servant, Tranio increases in social standing by taking on the role of Lucentio, a lord. Petruchio enters the play as a gentleman seeking a wife, but he increases his social standing by marrying Kate and gaining wealth from Baptista. Kate and Bianca enter the play as upper class young maidens. After marrying Lucentio, Bianca decreases her social standing due to the amount of wealth and nobility of Lucentio, which is less than what she had before. Kate increases her social standing by sacrificing a lot but gaining much better expectations from the other players and audience. To conclude, through subjects of character instability, Shakespeare emphasizes the idea that deceit a change determines the characters positions, ultimately making their identities unstable. The concepts of changing social standings lead the characters to achieve personal happiness or distraught. From the title, Taming of the Shrew, the idea of character instability is proved by the characters Kate, the shrew, and Petruchio, her husband, who uses taming to change her.
The Gender Roles in The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew was written around 1590 by William Shakespeare. It is the story of a man who had two daughters. One named Katherine, who was strong willed and no one wanted and one named Bianca who was gracious that all the men wanted. There was a man named Petruchio who was able to calm a strong willed woman by not giving her what she wanted. The other man named Lucentio that was able to marry Bianca.
The gender roles were affected because they were looking to follow a pattern. Katherine wanted to be led by a dominant male figure.Petruchio wanted a submissive wife out of Katherine. They both challenged each other in hopes of obtaining their ideal mate. In the case of Bianca and Lucentio it didn’t have to do with dominating each other but the true test was defined in the competition in the end when they called for each wife. Though Bianca didn’t violently object to her husbands call it was still met with a subtle rebellion and unwillingness to surrender.
The men had a particular idea about how women were to behave. Yet it did not extend to all women. Katherine was the exaggeration of one end of the expectation and Bianca was the other end of the exaggeration of the expectation. The men expected the women to behave in a submissive manner but Katherine would not fit that mold. The story says that the whole town was centered around Katherine’s tantrums. Her own father could not find a way early in the story to find her a proper mate because of her attitude. Katherine’s expectation of her role was that her husband should answer to her every call because her father always gave into her. She would try to manipulate Petruchio in all the different ways that she was used to dealing with males.
The women in the story never believed that Katherine would ever be married because she didn’t fit the mold of a wife. Katherine was not happy so she didn’t want her sister to be either. Bianca desired to be in love but could not be happy because her sister made her feel guilty. I believe that both the women were oppressed and they subtly balanced the men’s power. The over dominant male can cause oppression in a female just like the over dominant female causes the oppression of the male. Petruchio acted like an over dominant male which caused Katherine to feel oppressed. But she liked his strong character over her because he still gave her the things she wanted. So when she submitted to him in the end by giving him a kiss in front of everyone she balanced his power.
This was a beautiful yet funny story of how couples are and how they change throughout their relationship.The gender roles of Katrina and Petruchio affected their attitudes where in the end I believe they lived happily ever after.
Irony And Lust In The Taming Of The Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew, a comedy written by William Shakespeare, is full of irony and lust. Between Katherine’s shrew-like nature, Bianca’s popularity among the men, and Baptista’s business like personality, questionable marriages are formed causing both physical and emotional transformations. The Taming of the Shrew exhibits marriage and gender of the Renaissance through Katherine’s alteration into an obedient and loving wife, and Petruchio’s transformation from a greedy fortune seeker, to a gentle and loving husband.
Amber Zuber’s essay, Gender Roles in the Renaissance: Questions of Gender in Shakespeare’sAs You Like It, describes the very different roles men and women played and how they shaped marriage of the time. The social expectations, value, legal status, and rights of citizenship differed greatly between the sexes as well as among the classes, said Amber Zuber. Women were looked at as property or a prize. They were to be looked at but not heard. (Zuber) Meaning that women didn’t have a voice during the renaissance period. Therefore, women were more valued for physical beauty rather than something with a sense of worth. Women were also valued for qualities that outlined them as submissive, making women such as Katherine in Taming of the Shrew undesirable because of her shrewish personality. However, characters such as Bianca were looked at as the ideal women. The roles of men and women in society were very similar to their roles in marriage; both being clearly defined. The role of a husband was one of authority and dominance, using his knowledge, wisdom, and judgement to maintain himself in the place that God intended him to have (Zuber).The husbands had two main duties in their marriage; to love his wife, and to govern his wife in all duties that properly belong to marriage (Zuber). Whereas, women’s role as a wife was more oriented towards obedience and submission. Women weren’t only supposed to meet the needs of their husbands, but also to avoid activities that were displeasing to him. Overall, women were mostly seen as mediocre in their capabilities to make moral decisions, or run a household.
In the beginning of the story, Katherine is a prime example of the opposite of an ideal wife during the Renaissance. However, we see how she slowly changes into a submissive wife throughout the story; demonstrating the positions women played in a Renaissance marriage. There are many kinds of transformation portrayed in The Taming of the shrew, from Lucentio becoming a teacher to Tranio being a master. However, there are more than just physical changes that take place in the play. For example, Katherine goes from throwing stools at people to telling other women on how they should be a proper wife. Before Katherine marries Petruchio, she is aggressive, hostile, and violent. She would say things such as comb your noodle with a three-legged stole and paint your face and use you like a fool (Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 65-66). She was feared so much that people would refer to her as a devil. Although, her harsh actions and personality were changed by Petruchio after their marriage. Petruchio would starve and patronize Katherine until she would believe that whatever he said was undoubtedly true. Katherine’s shrew like behavior from earlier was broken, and a new compliant wife emerged. Her transformation portrays the roles of women in marriage through aspects such as obedience and inferiority. Whatever Petruchio says is exact, no matter the circumstances. Therefore, Katherine is both obedient by obeying every word and inferior because she isn’t able to speak her own mind in the situation. For example, Petruchio says, I say it is the moon, and Katherine replies with I know it is the moon even though it was already established that the sun was out. (Act 4, Scene 5, Lines 18-19)
Katherine wasn’t the only character to transform in The Taming of the Shrew. For instance, Petruchio was introduced as a greedy man who believed that money was the only way to achieve happiness. As soon as he heard the many rumors about Katherine’s attitude, he felt conflicted in his decision to find her suitable to marry. However, when hearing about the large dowry to which she was entitled he disregarded all doubts of courtship. Moreover, as soon as he received the dowry, he immediately attempted to flee the scene. However, as Katherine questions his responsibilities, he drops the act and becomes authoritative, expressing his views of ownership of Katherine. For example, he says, I will be master of what is my own. She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 235-236). In relation to marriage of the Renaissance, Petruchio portrays a common husband of the time. From that moment on, Petruchio, begins to frame Katherine into the wife that he desires by starving her and depriving her of common necessities. He was objectifying Katherine, describing her as something lesser than what she was. However, as soon as Katherine changes and is no longer aggressive, but rather obedient, Petruchio begins to realize that their marriage was more than just a dowry. Therefore, his change is a reaction to Katherine’s transformation. When Katherine begins to behave like the wife he was molding her to be, he begins to fall in love with her. Changing his personality from a dominant husband, into an authentic and loving husband.
Both Katherine and Petruchio’s changes in both personality and relationship portray similarities between Shakespeare’ s marriage, and marriage of the Renaissance. Katherine exemplifies a submissive wife, obeying her husband’s every word, no matter how absurd they are. Moreover, Petruchio is an example of a common Renaissance husband, one who takes authority over his marriage and is dominant over his wife. However, he also shows his duties to his wife, by loving her and continuing to govern his wife in the proper way.
- Zuber, Amber. Gender Roles in the Renaissance: Questions of Gender in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.Gender Roles of Women in the Renaissance, https://www2.cedarcrest.edu/academic/eng/lfletcher/ayli/azuber.htm
- Mowat, Barbara A., and Paul Werstine, editors.The Taming of the Shrew: by William Shakespeare. Folgerdigitaltexts.org.
About Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew
Throughout time there has been the traditional rule that women must be submissive to their husbands and are expected to tend to the domestic responsibilities within the household. The Elizabethans had very clear expectations of what roles men and women had in society. Men were expected to be the head of the household and the breadwinners while women were expected to be housewives and mothers.
Women were regarded as “the weaker sex”, that they always needed someone to look after them and care for them. Before marriage, the father, brother or another male relative was expected to take care of them. After marriage however, the husband was expected to take on that role, As a group, English women have enjoyed fewer rights, fewer privileges, less wealth, less influence in spheres of power and less control over domestic affairs, than English men (1). While gender roles have been redefined and challenged over the course of the twentieth century, characters such as Katherine, portray the exceptions of feminine independence and superiority. Shakespeare portrays gender in interesting ways throughout his work; many of the characters he wrote had personalities that defied traditional gender roles. Women in his plays are portrayed as strong, bold, and rational. Their male counterparts, however, are often fearful and carried away by their emotions.
Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, reinforces and challenges the class and gender roles of Elizabethan England. Issues related to gender are hugely important in this play as it centers around Petruchio and his “taming” of Katherina and forcing her into the traditionally submissive role of a wife. The Taming of the Shrew is filled with characters who fit and don’t fit traditional gender roles particularly the traditional Elizabethan ideaal of the male as dominant and the female as submissive. From the beginning, Katherina is a more masterly, dominant, and familiar character than the others, she is portrayed as a quick-witted, frustrated young woman. She is not afraid to stand up to her father and criticize his willingness to give her off to a husband. Baptista even offers to let Gremio or Hortensio court her instead of Bianca. The two men tell Baptista that Katharine is too rough, but if she were gentler, she may be able to find a husband. (2). Katharine does not hesitate to defend herself. As Gremio and Hortensio discuss Katherine in front of her, she steps in and tells them they are fools and that she has no desire to be married; For Gremio and Hortensio, Katharine becomes the ideological figure of whose only function is to manifest the reality of their primary fantasy-the ideal of the female virtue associated with Bianca. Katharine’s interaction in the open with her sister’s suitors convinces Lucentio of Bianca’s virtue, for he compares her response to this scene with Katharine’s (5). Immediately, the contrast between Katherine and Bianca becomes clear.
Shakespeare writes Katharine and Bianca as opposites to demonstrate an extreme example of how women were expected to behave, and how men thought women who did not follow societal standards would act. While Bianca stays quiet and only speaks to convey her obedience to her father, Katharine does not stand by and allow men to talk about her and tell her what to do. Katharine is self-possessed, independent, and not afraid to show her intelligence. The men in her life consider her outspoken and difficult, the opposite of wife material, which is why she is described as a shrew. By contrast, her younger sister, Bianca represents the ideal of what men look for in a wife: beautiful, gentle, and deferential to men. In the play, the men say that for a young woman to be called a a shrew is the worst thing to happen to her as it damages her reputation among men looking for a wife; “Katherine the curst,” A title for a maid of all titles the worst (1.2.130-131). Katherine?s “pointed nose” or rather her sharp tongue, is her bone of contention; her foul and crude language is the problem which defines her as a shrew that must be tamed. As a woman, Katherine’s does not fit into the typical patterns of society and the hierarchy within her family. Her language and actions are not that of the ideal woman; reasons enough for the patriarchal society to believe she must be tamed. At the beginning of Act 2, Katharine exhibits this behavior when she interrogates a bound Bianca and reacts with physical violence when Bianca asks her to free her. Katherine also responds to the instruction of the disguised Hortensio by breaking a lute over his head, refusing to be ruled by his advice, even in a field that requires training. Finally, when she meets Petruchio, their verbal sparring becomes physical when she “tries” his self-declared gentle status with blows. Katharine meets linguistic provocation with physical force. Her aggression arises from the category of shrew itself, because the behavior her sister displays can look desirable only in comparison to extreme displays of feminine aggression (5).
Due to this, Katherine is dehumanized on several occasions. Early on, Bianca’s elderly suitor, Gremio, refers to her as a ?wild-cat’ (1.2.196), suggesting she is vicious and untamable. Everywhere she turns, Katharine is called “shrew,” a designation that demonstrates the societal shunning and disapproval applied to her in Padua. When Gremio refuses Baptista’s invitation to court Katherine, claiming to cart her would be more appropriate to her unladylike (and therefore, unmarriable) behavior, Katherine protests the accusation that she is a shrew and asserts she will not marry for she has no desire to. Due to her refusal to be ruled by male fantasy of femininity, the men in her life believe manipulation of her is necessary in order for her to gain esteem in Padua’s patriarchal network. Even before Petruchio meets Katherine, he attempts to redefine the position Katharine supposedly occupies. When Petruchio approaches Baptista about his interest in marrying Katherine, he tells Baptista that he seeks “Katharine, fair and virtuous,’ a designation Baptista refuses to recognize, to which he replies, “I have a daughter, sir, called Katherine” (2.1.43-44). Petruchio then lists the traits he expects to find in a wife (modesty, mildness), traits that are so unlike Katherine, Baptista discourages Petruchio, believing that his daughter Katharine cannot gratify such wishes: “She is not for your turn, the more my grief” (1. 63). Petruchio’s goal in speaking to Baptista is to not only get Baptista’s permission to marry her, but to also woo Katharine. He reveals his plan to woo her in his soliloquy, Petruchio reveals his plan to woo Katharina in a short soliloquy; he reasons that no matter how badly she yells at him or treats him, he’ll simply respond to her with kind compliments and praise. When Petruchio reveals this plan, he does so believing that all women are meant to be tamed by men, and as long as a man devises a cunning plan of action, he can possess any woman he chooses. Petruchio makes it clear that wooing a woman is simply a game in which men and women have roles; and if the players have enough patience and planning, they can ensure that each party plays these roles and gets married in the end. A defining characteristic of those in upper-class Elizabethan England was their view on marriage. As amongst the upper-class marriage meant financial stability, most men sought out wives who came from wealthy families.
A clear example of this, is Baptista, a gentleman of Padua, who finds it impossible to marry off his daughter Katharine on account of her outspoken independence. As it was in Elizabethan England, marriage was considered more of a financial transaction between a woman’s father and her future husband rather than a mutual decision out of love. Women had very little say in the matter and were expected to behave sweetly and submissively in order to be more attractive to men. As Baptista is the sole authority of his family and it is his responsibility to marry off his daughters, he makes the decision that his younger, more desirable daughter Bianca, cannot marry until Katharine has a suitor. Baptista’s rule that no one can marry Bianca, who is in high demand, until Katharine, who is not, gets married sets the action of the play in motion; To upper-class society men, a woman was viewed as a bargaining tool, meaning that when she was born, she belonged to her father, but once she got older, he would decide whom she would marry; this marriage was viewed as a tedious process in which a father could gain social and/or financial advancement, and the family which the daughter was married into, gained monetary rewards. Once a woman married a man, she became his property. Legally, during this time, a man and woman became one unified person; however, this person was the husband. Upon marrying his wife, the husband gained all control over his wife’s personal property (2). Petruchio is the character who most blatantly expresses his desire to marry a woman for money. When Petruchio enters the play, he is a young man from Verona visiting his friends in Padua. While he is there, he visits his friend Hortensio. Petruchio’s visit comes as a surprise to Hortensio, who asks him what he is doing in Padua. Petruchio tells him that he wishes to seek his fortune because his father has died. He also adds, And I have thrust myself into this maze/ Happily to wive and thrive as best I may (1.2.54-55).
Upon hearing this, Hortensio tells Petruchio of Katharine, Baptista’s shrewish daughter who must be married soon. He also assures Petruchio that if he does marry Katharine, he will get money and land from Baptista. Petruchio expresses that he does not care how foul a woman is; if she’s rich enough, he will marry her; Thus hearing of Petruchio’s aspirations, Hortensio introduces his to Katherine. He describes her as shrewd and forward so beyond measure, yet rich, very rich (I.ii.89-92). Undaunted by the prospect of spending the rest of his life married to an intolerable scold, Petruchio retorts that know’st not gold’s effect and that he will board her though she chide as loud. As thunder when the clouds in autumn crack (I.ii.89.92). Petruchio’s statement has the effect of expressing not only that he has more concern for money than affection for any woman, but also that he haughtily considers Katherine’s temper no more frightening than thunder (3). Even though Petruchio seems to be born of a wealthy family, he still thinks money is more important than finding a compatible wife. This further illustrates the fact that wealth was a major defining component of the upper-class. Petruchio’s attitude towards marriage is also a classic example of how marriage was viewed by men. Later, having married Katherina, Petruchio says She is my good, my chattels, she is my house, My household stuff, my field, my barn, My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything; (3.2.230“32). Regardless of whether he means this in seriousness or in jest, Petruchio deliberately positions her alongside the rest of his possessions: The use of animal imagery by Petruchio to assert his rights over his wife reflects the place of a woman in the Elizabethan patriarchal world. Petruchio embarks upon a task of taming his wife in line with the patriarchal values of the time. He applies torture, keeps her hungry, and denies sleep to her, to break her into obedience to her keeper. This is nothing but inhuman and the violation of human rights, but patriarchy is hardly bothered about it. Finally, she is tamed, and her chattering tongue is charmed. She gives up her sense of identity, the independence of her mind, is reduced to a puppet and Petruchio wins his field, and right supremacy, to the applause of all (4).
It seems that he is trying to endow her with all the characteristics of which he finds desirable in a wife. Throughout many of Shakespeare’s plays, there has been a reoccurring theme of change through appearance. His characters are depicted to change their outward appearance to make themselves and others believe they are of a different social class or even a different gender. In The Taming of the Shrew, Katherine is the character who must relearn how to function in a society based on binary gender opposites – the man as the dominating figure and the woman as the submissive figure; if Petruchio were female, he would be known as a shrew and shunned accordingly by men As a man, Petruchio is in a position that allows him to oppose the conventions of society without fear of penalty or ostracism, while Kate must face judgment because she is a woman and in a subordinate position. Petruchio may act shrewish because he is the husband and patriarch; thus he has almost a right to act as he pleases without fear of punishment. Behavior desirable in a male prohibits that same behavior in a female, for woman must mold herself to be complementary to man, not competitive with him” (8). While both men and women in this play don’t always behave in accordance with traditional gender roles, it is the women” particularly Katherine”who are punished for such behavior. Katherine’s stubbornness and strong desire for independence cause her to be denigrated, insulted, and abused throughout the play. She is not as highly valued as a potential wife as her sister and she humiliated by various male characters, especially by her own husband Petruchio; It is shown that marriage is the ultimate destiny and the final standard of the success and triumph of a woman’s life. A woman has no life outside the institution of marriage, a major postulate of patriarchy. For this to happen, a woman needs to accept her lesser and lower position with reference to her future husband. She needs to cultivate her image of a good girl. A good girl is absolutely obedient to her father, and she will be a subject and slave to her future husband (4) .
By showcasing Petruchio’s abuses of Katherine for a comedic value, The Taming of the Shrew appears as rsexist and misogynistic. However, while the play does contain much misogyny on-stage, it also seems to expose some of the fallacies of the traditional, oppressive gender role; Katherine objects to both her treatment and the guise under which her treatment is provided. Her unwillingness to be complicit in Petruchio’s strategy highlights the absurd idea that by denying her food he is preserving her health. Refusing to enter the fictional space that Petruchio has constructed, she holds onto her experience of reality in the face of his presentation of it (7). By the closing act, is somewhat unclear whether Katherine is really tamed by Petruchio. With it disguises and deceptive performances in the comedy, it, it is left ambiguous whether or not Katherine has really been tamed or of she is simply pretending to be obedient to him. If this is the case, the play seems to suggest that gender roles are just that: roles to be played, rather than natural, true identities. Despite this ambiguity, it is clear that the play depicts gender as the most important factor of what dictates where one stands in society, especially as the differences in gender roles vary throughout the different social classes. Men have always attempted to tame women who do not adhere to the traditional gender roles established by society. Thus, if one attempts to challenge or defy their traditional gender roles, others are quick to restore order. While the methods of taming unruly women change through time and culture, society will still attempt to reform women who do not act in accordance with their appropriate gender roles.