The Taming of the Shrew
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.
Darla Flynn Play Analysis for The Taming of the Shrew
**** I watched the BBC version off of Amazon, I am not sure if this is the one everyone else did but this is what my Play Analysis is going to be based on.***
Context- The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works. It was written between 1593 and 1594 and it is one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies. In the Elizabethan era, there was a huge demand for new entertainment, and The Taming of the Shrew would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.
Playwright – The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school but had no further formal education. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590 he left his family behind and traveled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theater. Wealthy and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two.
Plot – The plot for the play was to get the older meaner daughter married off so that several of the other suters could vie over who would marry the younger more beautiful daughter
Diction – From what I could tell the play used a lot of early modern English.
Music – There was very little music in this version.
Katherine – The shrew of the play’s title, Katherine, or Kate, is the daughter of Baptista Minola, with whom she lives in Padua. Her hostility toward suitors particularly distresses her father. But her anger and rudeness disguise her deep-seated sense of insecurity and her jealousy toward her sister, Bianca. She does not resist her suitor Petruchio forever, though, and she eventually subjugates herself to him, despite her previous repudiation of marriage.
Petruchio – Petruchio is a gentleman from Verona. He wishes for nothing more than a woman with an enormous dowry, and he finds Kate to be the perfect fit. Disregarding everyone who warns him of her shrewishness, he eventually succeeds not only in wooing Katherine, but in silencing her tongue and temper with his own.
Bianca – The younger daughter of Baptista. The lovely Bianca proves herself the opposite of her sister, Kate, at the beginning of the play: she is soft-spoken, sweet, and unassuming. Because of her beauty and her mild behavior, several men vying for her hand. Baptista, however, will not let her marry until Kate is wed.
Baptista – Minola Baptista is one of the wealthiest men in Padua, and his daughters become the prey of many suitors due to the substantial dowries he can offer. At the opening of the play, he is already desperate to find her a suitor, having decided that she must marry before Bianca does.
Lucentio – A young student from Pisa, the good-natured Lucentio comes to Padua to study at the city’s renowned university, but he is immediately sidetracked when he falls in love with Bianca at first sight. By disguising himself as a classics instructor named Cambio, he convinces Gremio to offer him to Baptista as a tutor for Bianca. He wins her love, but his impersonation gets him into trouble when his father, Vincentio, visits Padua.
Tranio – Lucentio’s servant. Tranio accompanies Lucentio from Pisa. Wry and comical, he plays an important part in his master’s charade”he assumes Lucentio’s identity and bargains with Baptista for Bianca’s hand.
Gremio And Hortensio – Two gentlemen of Padua. Gremio and Hortensio are Bianca’s suitors at the beginning of the play. Though they are rivals, these older men also become friends during their mutual frustration with and rejection by Bianca. Hortensio directs Petruchio to Kate and then dresses up as a music instructor to court Bianca.
Grumio – Petruchio’s servant and the fool of the play”a source of much comic relief.
Biondello – Lucentio’s second servant, who assists his master and Tranio in carrying out their plot. The two themes I noticed was how they used marriage as an economic institution, and the effects of social roles on an individual’s happiness The Spectacles in the play help me understand where and when the play occurred. I can tell by the clothing who is wealthy and who is poorer. Judging from the clothing I can tell that they are from the English part of the word several hundred years ago.
Twelfth Night Analysis
The Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy written by William Shakespeare during the year 1623. This romantic comedy focuses on the story of a woman that goes by the name Viola. She ends up alone in a country called Illyria because of a shipwreck and loses her brother, Sebastian.
Because of this predicament, she decides to disguise herself as a male and serve the count, Orsino, for shelter in return. Throughout this play, conflicts arise between love interests, friends, and family. For instance, there is this entire conflict with Viola, Orsino, and Olivia where Viola falls in love with Orsino, however, Orsino is in love with Olivia. To make matters even more dramatic, Olivia falls in love with Viola’s male disguise, Cesario. This conflict contributes to one of the themes present in Twelfth Night, deception within love. In act 2 scene 2 of Twelfth Night, Viola realizes the predicament she is in and speaks in a soliloquy. In this soliloquy, Viola talks about how Olivia falls in love with her and how she views herself as wicked for deceiving Olivia. Viola also states that she sees herself as a monster for falling in love with Orsino, even though she is supposed to be a man. With all this, Viola analyzes that both her and Olivia’s love is “”hopeless”” as Viola cannot reveal herself as a woman. All of this is evident from Shakespeare’s usage of dictation, tone, and mood
In the passage, Viola’s use of vocabulary and diction depict her emotions with all that is happening to her and the people around her. She feels a sense of guilt for causing all this revolving love, even though she knows that it is all a lie. For instance, she says, “”Poor Lady, she were better love a dream./Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness””(lines 26-27). It is clear with this that Viola feels remorseful towards Olivia, as she says that Olivia falling in love with Viola is the same as her falling in love with a dream. Viola feels this way because Cesario was never a real person, to begin with, much like a dream that is nonexistent in the real world. Another instance where dictation is present to emit Viola’s thoughts and emotions is when she says, “”How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly,/And I, poor monster, fond as much on him/And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me./What will become of this?…””(lines 33-36). It appears that, even though Viola is explaining the situation, she uses phrases like “”I, poor monster”” because she sees herself as the one responsible for this misunderstanding.
Another element that contributes to the overall theme of “”deception within love”” is imagery. One example of imagery is when Viola says, “”In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!/Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,/For such as we are made of, such we be.””(lines 30-32). In this quotation, Viola refers to both herself and Olivia. She talks about how women’s’ hearts are much like wax in the way how wax is easily manipulated with heat or fire. In this case, women’s hearts are easily manipulated with love. This prompts the audience to understand Viola better as they can comprehend her analogy with the description of both wax and a woman’s heart as delicate. Another example of imagery is when Viola says, “”O Time, thou must untangle this, not I./It is too hard a knot for me t’ untie.””(lines40-41). Imagery is applied as Viola describes this entire mess as a knot that is too difficult to untie. This leaves the audience to fully understand the situation and its complexity with finding a solution.
Both diction and imagery contribute to the last element applied in this passage, tone. In this passage, Viola’s tone is recognizable as confusion and desperation. The audience can see that in this scene, Viola is confused because of how the situation got out of control with everyone’s feelings. She also feels desperate because she can’t come up with a solution as she is unable to reveal her true gender. With the previous quote, she states that time will eventually correct this situation, but when the time comes, she knows that Viola, Olivia, and Orsino will become pained by the truth of their love.
One of the major themes present in Twelfth Night is deception within love. With the particular passage of Viola’s soliloquy, it is seen that diction, imagery, and tone all contribute to this theme. All three of these elements endorse one another as they all relate to each other in addressing the theme Shakespear was trying to portray in the play. They all helped the audience interpret the how Viola feels with this turn of events.
Misogyny in Taming of the Shrew
Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is often criticized for its seemingly misogynistic themes: namely, the idea of breaking a woman’s spirit and making her subservient to her husband. This is apparent through the “taming” of the play’s lead female character, Katherine Minola. Katherine, better known as Kate, is hard-headed, stubborn, and prone to speaking her mind. In the patriarchal society of Shakespeare’s day, which valued weak and submissive woman, her behavior does not go over well with her male counterparts. Thus, throughout the play, her groom, Petruccio, uses starvation, humiliation, and sleep deprivation to “break” her and turn her into what was then viewed as a proper bride — the total antithesis of the character to which the audience is first introduced. That destruction of a strong and powerful woman into one suited for the Stepford Wives is controversial: should the play be viewed in a tongue-in-cheek manner, one criticizing the society in which it takes place, or should it be taken literally and blasted as a work of anti-woman propaganda? Though it seems unusual for Shakespeare’s work, The Taming of the Shrew is ultimately riddled with misogyny and suggests the necessity of a subservient bride and the stifling of a woman’s voice. Kate’s sharp tongue becomes apparent in the play’s first scenes. After Horatio criticizes her, claiming that she will not find a mate unless she becomes kinder and gentler, Kate quickly delivers a scathing retort:
I’ faith, sir, you shall never need to fear, / Iwis it not halfway to her heart; / But if it were to be, doubt not her care should be / To comb your noddle with a three-legg’d stool, / And paint your face, and use you like a fool. (1.1.61-65)As Horatio, Gremio, and Tranio witness Kate’s fiery spirit in action, they comment on the possibility of marrying such a strong-willed woman:
Horatio: From all such devils, good Lord deliver us!
Gremio: And me too, good Lord!
Tranio: Husht, master, here’s some good pastime toward; / That wench is stark mad or wonderful forward!(1.1.66-69)Simultaneously, the men notice Bianca’s silence and seeming meekness, and judge her as quickly as they did Kate: while Kate is far too ardent to be a suitable bride, Bianca is ideal, with “mild behavior and sobriety.” Kate scoffs at the idea, referring to Bianca as a “pretty peat,” a spoiled little pet, and making apparent her contempt for Bianca and for the men’s general desire for a docile woman. Further evidencing Kate’s fierceness is a scene of dialogue between Kate and Petruccio, the man who will eventually tame her. The two seem to have somewhat of a battle of wits, each verbally sniping at the other. It is clear that Kate is intelligent and can hold her own in a verbal sparring match with any man. When Petruccio attempts civility, greeting her with, “Good morrow, Kate, for that’s your name, I hear,” Kate snaps in return, “Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing: They call me Katherine that do talk of me.” Petruccio continues to attempt to win her over with compliments and sweet talk:
Petruccio: You lie, in faith, for you are call’d plain Kate, / And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst; / But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom, / Kate of Kate-Hall, my super-dainty Kate, / For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate, / Take this of me, Kate my consolation— / Hearing thy mildness prais’d in every town, / They virtues spoke of, and they beauty sounded, / Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs, / Myself am mov’d to woo thee for my wife.(2.1.185-193)And while many women would have swooned over being called pretty and dainty, the more hard-hearted Kate is not at all moved. “Mov’d! in good time! Let him that mov’d / you hither remove you hence. I knew you at the first / You were a movable.” The two continue to verbally spar, and with each flattery Petruccio utters, Kate responds with an insult.
Petruccio: Why, what’s a moveable?
Kate: A join’d-stool.
Petruccio: Thou hast hit it; come sit on me.
Kate: Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Petruccio: Women are made to bear, and so are you.
Kate: No such jade as you, if me you mean.
Petruccio: Alas, good Kate, I will not burthen thee, For knowing thee to be young and light.
Kate: Too light for such a swain as you to catch…(2.1.184-204)Petruccio’s use of the phrase “women are made to bear” demonstrates the play’s idea of women: while Kate means that asses are made to bear workloads, Petruccio insinuates that women are made to bear children, thus supporting the play’s continual suggestion of a woman’s place as a meek, servile being, good for little other than raising children and following the misogynistic overtones of the work as a whole. Comparing Kate’s fire in this scene with her speech in the play’s final scene leads the audience to recognize Kate as a broken woman. Her spirit is totally gone, and she seems to support all of the things about patriarchy that she once despised; she is now subservient to Petruccio and condemns women who act insubordinately to their husbands. To Kate, the husband is the wife’s king, keeper, governor, lord, sovereign, and head — a far cry from the woman who initially spurned all such notions.
Petruccio: Katherine, I charge thee tell these headstrong women / What duty they do owe their lords and husbands. …
Kate: Fie, fie, unknit that threat’ning unkind brow, / And dart not scornful glances from those eyes, to wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor. / …. Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee… / I am asham’d that women are so simple / To offer war where they should kneel for peace, / Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, / When they are bound to serve, love and obey. / Why are our bodies, soft, and weak, and smooth, / Unapt to toil and trouble in the world… / But now I see our lances are but straws, / Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare…”(5.2.133-174)So then, how can one account for this final scene, in which Kate delivers this passionate speech about the meekness of women and responds to Petruccio’s beck and call with absolutely no resistance? It is evident that he has destroyed her with his actions toward her during their “courtship.” He humiliates Katherine by purposely dressing distastefully and riding a diseased animal at their wedding, and then by dramatically leaving their wedding dinner with Katherine in tow. He also publicly announces what Kate means to him:
I will be the master of what is mine own. / She is my goods, my chattels, she is my house, / My household stuff, my field, my barn, / My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything…(3.2.229-232)This kind of public humiliation can be seen as part of Kate’s ultimate collapse as a person. One can only bear so much degradation before it affects his or her persona, weakening the will, and Kate is a clear demonstration of this. Moreover, whisking Kate away from dinner and refusing to allow her to eat is also evidence of the starvation she endured at the hands of Petruccio. Petruccio also savagely beats his servants in front of Kate, assuring that he would never lay a hand on her but nonetheless instilling in her the knowledge that he has the potential to be a violent man. He proclaims that he will tame her by depriving her of her needs, disguising it as love and kindness.
Thus I have politely begun my reign, / And ’tis my hope to end successfully. / My falcon now is sharp and passing empty, / For then she never looks upon her lure. / Another way I have to man my haggard, / To make her come, / And know her keeper’s call, / That is, to watch her… / She eat no meat to-day, nor none shall eat; / Last night she slept not, nor to-night she shall not; / As with the meat, some undeserved fault / I’ll find about the making of the bed… / … This is a way to kill a wife with kindness.”(4.2.188-208)Thus, through this series of starvation, sleep deprivation, and humiliation, Kate becomes the docile shell of herself that she appears to be at the play’s close. As a whole, the work is anti-woman and shows the cruel and abusive destruction of a human. In the end, Kate’s “taming” is little more than the ruin of her spirit, and the work seems to praise brutality and malice toward women. A stark contrast to the feminist movement, it is no surprise that the work and its popularity are unnerving to many.
Petruchio’s Method of Taming the Shrew
One reading of The Taming of the Shrew may cause women to shake their heads in disbelief of Kate’s changed behavior for the pleasure of her husband. A closer reading and an analyzing of the methods used by Petruchio in taming his wife, however, provide an opposing view. Perhaps Petruchio seems cruel in his treatment of Kate, but does he really have any other choice? In what other ways could he possibly have approached Kate and her temper? His method is unique and is obviously tailored with Kate’s demanding ways in mind. In fact, this uniquely crafted method chosen by Petruchio himself is not only perfect for “taming” Kate, but also proves his love for his wife.Petruchio, from the first mention of Kate, has an obvious desire for a challenge. One of the first things he mentions is that he is determined to find a wealthy wife. Hortensio points out, perhaps recognizing Petruchio’s desire for challenge and playing on that desire for a better chance to win Bianca, that Kate is so shrewd that he would not recommend her to such a good friend (1.2.62-3). If he really did not wish to recommend her, he would not have even mentioned her as a possibility. Petruchio, however, demands, “if thou know / One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife – / […] / Be she as foul as was Florentius’ love, / As old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd / As Socrates’ Xanthippe, or a worse, / She moves me not, or not removes, at least, / Affection’s edge in me” (1.2.64-72). Surely there are other wealthy women in the area that are more like Bianca, but Petruchio wants no other woman besides Kate. Recognizing that taming Kate will be a challenge, he longs for her.The method employed by Petruchio is unique. In his soliloquy, Petruchio explains this method to the reader. He keeps her hungry and unable to sleep well, but in a manner that appears that he is looking out for her best interests. As for the meat they are to eat and the sheets on the bed, he finds “some undeservèd fault” with each (4.1.188). He states that “this is a way to kill a wife with kindness, / And thus […] curb her mad and headstrong humor” (4.1.197-8). By appearing to overprotect her and overindulge her, he will be annoying her to the point of obedience. Because Kate is so headstrong and does not respond well to criticism, this method is well tailored to her specific needs.Kate does not respond well to this method at first. She reacts angrily towards him, which only makes him act more kindly. He refers to her as “pleasant, gamesome, passing courteous, / But slow in speech, yet sweet as springtime flowers” (2.1.246-7). In return, she continuously throws out sarcastic replies. He gives her no option of whether to marry him or not, but simply walks away from her stating that they will marry on Sunday, acting as though she has agreed (2.1.325). When the two are getting married, he shows up in old clothes and even swears at the priest during the ceremony (3.2.155-63). After the wedding, she attempts to defy him by stating that she will remain behind at her father’s house for the marriage celebration while he returns home. He does not allow her to linger, however, and on their way home he even leaves her fallen horse on top of her while cursing at the servant for allowing it to happen rather than helping her. This causes even his servants to question whether he is not shrewder than she (4.1.76). Her defiance and anger, she soon realizes, will get her nowhere. She soon realizes that she simply needs to agree with anything he tells her, even if she knows that he is wrong, in order to find freedom. One may question whether Kate is merely acting the part of a submissive wife in order to get what she wants. This is most likely and almost certainly her plan. After attempting to resist him and by being defiant, she realizes that she will not be able to continue in this manner. Instead, she comes to the realization that it is better for her to agree with him, if only to please him. Her transformation comes on her way to her father’s house. She states, after a short disagreement about whether the sun or moon is out, that if Petruchio says the sun is out then “henceforth I vow it shall be so for me” even if it truly is the moon (4.5.15). She realizes that by simply agreeing with him, or at least pretending to agree with him, he is much nicer and easier to please. Petruchio may appear to be cruel in his treatment of Kate, but it is most likely an act. His servants are surprised to see how he is acting, proving that he does not normally act like this. For example, Nathaniel asks, “Peter, didst ever see the like?” to which Peter replies, “He kills her in her own humor” (4.1.169-70). He tests her new found submissive nature by telling her that the man approaching them on their way to her father’s is a maiden. She humors her husband by praising the man’s feminine features and only apologizes for herself when her husband points out that the traveler is indeed a man.The method itself also appears cruel, but perhaps it is the only choice he has. Kate may have never responded to any other method. First, to be beaten into submission usually only causes the victim to become timid and terrified of the abuser. Had Petruchio beaten Kate, she would have hated him and would have never become the woman he wanted her to and knew that she could become. Second, Kate proved that she cannot be taught like the average person. After trying to teach her music, Hortensio states that she will make a better soldier. When her father asks why this is, Hortensio replies:I did but tell her she mistook her fretsAnd bowed her hand to teach her fingering, When, with a most impatient devilish spirit,“Frets, call you these?” quoth she, “I’ll fume with them.”And with that word she struck me on the head, […]While she did call me rascal, fiddler,And twangling jack, with twenty such vile terms (2.1.150-9)It is obvious through this experience that she does not have the patience of the average person to learn in an average way. Finally, if she had been allowed to continue in her ways – even while others hoped that she would grow out of her shrewdness – she would have never changed. Her father does not know what to do with her or how to handle her because it has gotten so out of hand. He even warns Petruchio to be prepared for “some unhappy words” from his rebellious daughter (2.1.140). By exploring the different methods that could have been used, it becomes clear that Petruchio’s method is the only one that would work with Kate. Some may argue that Petruchio’s goal is to make Kate more like Bianca, but this is not the case. Bianca is conniving in her own way and not the submissive wife that Petruchio is trying to make Kate. Bianca pretends to be absorbed in her studies, as when she tells her father, “My books and instruments shall be my company, / On them to look and practice by myself” (1.1.82-3). Although it is impossible to know for sure whether she has any intentions of studying, one may argue that she only agrees to make her father happy. Later when Lucentio is “teaching” her, he tells her who he really is and that he is not a teacher. Unable to face Hortensio and tell him that she is not interested in him – such as Kate would have done – she allows him to continue his failing attempt to play his instrument. She even reads aloud his notes scale in which he makes each note an acronym proving his desire for her (3.1.72-7). Once again, however, she is unable to tell him that she loves another, but instead simply states that she does not like improved scales and that the old one suits her best (3.1.78-80). By the end of the play, it is obvious that Petruchio has succeeded, yet Kate has won a battle of her own. His plan to make her submissive appears to him to have worked, but Kate finds freedom in being submissive. She encourages Bianca and the widow to also follow suit and “place [their] hands below [their] husband’s boot” in order to show their submissiveness (5.2.183). She degrades her own previous behavior and asks: Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth, Unapt to toil and trouble in the world, But that our soft conditions and our hearts Should well agree with our external parts? […] My mind hath been as big as one of yours, My heart as great, my reason haply more, To bandy word for word and frown for frown (5.2.171-8).She recognizes that she lives in a society that places specific demands on her as a woman, as does Petruchio, and eventually matures to the point that she can accept those demands. She tells the women that although she used to fight the way things are she now realizes that “our lances are but straws, / Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare, / That seeming to be most which we indeed least are” (5.1.179-81). If women would only submit to their husbands, accept their own weaknesses, and allow their husbands to provide for them, then there is freedom. Petruchio is obviously pleased with her speech, that he did not force upon her, and invites her to bed (5.2.190). Apparently, her submissive behavior is a turn-on to her husband and impresses her father to the point that he agrees to give Petruchio a second dowry for a second, or changed, daughter. Through the entire process of taming Kate, however, Petruchio genuinely proves his respect, and ultimately his love, to her. First, if he does not love her he would not bother with changing her behavior. If the only reason he wants to change her is to please society, he could simply lock her up in the house and rarely allow her in the public view. Second, as mentioned before, he does not resort to beating her into submission, but still respects her as a person. He asks her to kiss him in the streets, but does not force her to (5.2.134-7). Once again, he invites her to bed. He also refers to his and Kate’s relationship as a marriage and the other two – Bianca and Lucentio and the widow and Hortensio – as failing marriages since there is no submission from the women (5.2.191). In return, Kate also respects him, and as her last speech proves, loves him. Although Petruchio may seem cruel throughout his “taming” of Kate, he really has her best interests in mind. He sees her potential and helps her fulfill that. Kate puts up a struggle for quite a while until she realizes she cannot change her situation. If she just accepts her position as the submissive wife, however, she will be respected by her husband and provided for. Her speech at the end reveals to the reader a completely transformed Kate that appreciates her husband and respects him properly. The fact that the plan was so clearly and precisely devised with Kate’s temperamental ways in mind proves that Petruchio really does love Kate.Works CitedShakespeare, William. “The Taming of the Shrew.” The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Orgel and A.R. Braunmuller. New York: The Penguin Group, 2002. 147-180.
The Language of Petruchio
Petruchio’s multifaceted role in The Taming of the Shrew illustrates various themes of the play, such as the concept of domestication, the economy of marriage, gender roles, and the nature of language. Through his experiences at Padua, interactions and marriage with Katherina, and the conclusion of her domestication, Petruchio presents the symbolism and meaning behind these themes. While these themes are not applicable to Petruchio alone, Petruchio’s language is of particular interest because it is the primary domesticating tool of the titular theme. Petruchio does not purchase Kate or win a tournament for her, but rather he uses language to attain her favor. He is defined by his excessive materialism, bluntness, and possessiveness, to the point of transcending social norms. Petruchio’s language immediately indicates his materialism and craftiness. Early on, he squarely states an intention to marry for wealth: “One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife- / As wealth is burthen of my wooing dance-” (1.2.66-67) Here, Petruchio immediately corrects Hortensio, who would “not wish thee to her.” (1.2.63) Petruchio demonstrates himself to be avaricious beyond what is acceptable for his time. The financial aspects of marriage are acknowledged to be an important factor in late 16th century London, but Petruchio’s stark greed surpasses this norm. He refers to himself in third person, putting on an air of conceit and also framing his identity. He is seeking a wife as if it were a chore, a basic business operation. Also, the use of “burthen” is unusual. Burden usually has a negative connotation and the phrasing makes it seem as if the wealth is a burden, both in the sense of an onerous concern, and in the sense of a physical load. Petruchio facetiously puts forth the notion that he is relieving his future fiancée of a burdensome load. In this case, Petruchio’s language has defined him as greedy, but not without wit and a sense of sarcasm. Petruchio is so greedy that he asks Baptista directly about his dowry, before he has even won Katherina’s love. “Then tell me, if I get your daughter’s love / What dowry shall I have with her to wife?” (2.1.119-120) In this case Petruchio demonstrates his frankness along with his greed. Petruchio continues to define himself through his use of words, demonstrating himself as blunt yet masterful. He does not mince words; he does not sugarcoat his aims. Unequivocally he states “Be she as foul as was Florentius’ love / … / She moves me not, or not removes, at least / Affection’s edge in me, were she as rough / As are the swelling Adriatic seas. / I come to wive it wealthily in Padua. / If wealthily then happily in Padua.” (1.2.68-75) After explaining that he doesn’t care how shrewish, foul, or old his bride is, Petruchio repeats his intention to wed for wealth. The use of the word “affection” is of importance here. Petruchio explains that after all the bad things she could possibly be, it does not “move” him. It does not alter his position. He then adds, “or not removes, at least/ Affection’s edge in me.” Affection usually suggests human love, but Petruchio’s affection is more for material wealth. His unreasonable greed is coupled with his blunt statement of intentions; most people would not phrase their emotional indifferent in such harsh, direct words. Petruchio’s blunt language is noted by others as well. Upon first meeting Baptista, Petruchio asks “And you, good sir. Pray, have you not a daughter?” (2.1.42-43) This is Petruchio’s first line to Baptista, indicating his direct and unequivocal method of acting. Gremio responds in an aside, “You are too blunt; go to it orderly.” (2.1.45) The notion of orders comes into play here. Gremio suggests that Petruchio ought to go at things gradually, but also implies the concept of levels. Petruchio does not care for intermediate steps towards his goal; rather, he goes directly to the final stage upon meeting Baptista. The idea of orders also implies something of social stratification, and by analogy, Petruchio is considered high class, just as he considers himself able to skip to the final stage with Baptista. This language illustrates not only Petruchio’s blunt nature, but also his arrogance. The final and most prominent attribute that Petruchio’s language bestows upon him is his overbearing and socially unacceptable possessiveness. Petruchio states: “Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented / That you shall be my wife, your dowry ‘greed on, / And will you, nill you, I will marry you.” (2.1.263-265) Petruchio is commanding here; he has no qualms about Kate’s disagreement. Beginning the statement with “In plain terms” is condescending towards Kate, as though she cannot understand what he will say. Petruchio’s “I will marry you” is also patronizing. He takes Kate’s silence as agreement, and makes a final pronouncement before Baptista enters: “Here comes your father. Never make denial; / I must and will have Katherine to my wife.” (2.1.272-273) Normally unruly and relcacitrant, Kate has finally submitted to Petruchio.Petruchio continues to express his possessive nature at his marriage to Kate: “But for my bonny Kate, she must with me / … / I will be master of what is mine own. She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house / my household stuff, my field, my barn, / My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.” (3.2.227-232.) The notion of a husband owning his wife was common, but Petruchio’s extreme in this case is outrageous. He begins by comparing Kate to “goods” and “chattels,” which simply signify that she is his physical property, but goes on to say she is “anything” – barn, field, ox – basically proclaiming that he has power even over Kate’s nature and function. He even extends his comparison to the sun and the moon. Language, in any play and in the real world, is an individual’s primary tool of cognitive conveyance; as such, it is the primary way through which we can define a character or person. Through Petruchio’s words we learn of his greed, arrogance, and possessiveness. Kate’s reaction to his language – gradual domestication – shows that for all Petruchio’s deplorable qualities, the words he uses do ultimately “tame the shrew.”