The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew and Dose It Relies on Comedic Devices
In the Taming of the Shrew, men from far-off lands arrive in the town she lives in and searches for her hand in marriage. The catch is that she is not allowed to marry until her older sister (named the Shrew) is married off. Some men search for someone who has a wealthy family and others for love. Some servants use trickery to get at the younger sisters’ heart, while one man has his eyes only on the Shrew for her riches. The play itself is filled with many comedic driving plot points involving love, passion, and disputes between to characters. Like much of Shakespeare’s works there are lots to take in and understand to fully the complex relationships of the characters and their developments. From the start to finish of the Taming of the Shrew uses comedic devices to further push the story along both in plot and character development.
A major tool used in the plot line is the tool of mistaken identity. This is used to change the flow of the story. For example; the servant Tranio disguise himself as the identity of his master Lucentio for the purpose to reach the hart of Bianca named as the younger sister of the Shrew. This smart thinking plan was nearly soiled by Baptista’s growing suspicion of the disguised Tranio’s rechecks and askes for him to prove this question.
As for the type of this play, it is placed under to category of Romantic comedy. The whole story itself runs on the comedic driven plot points that bring each mail character to wild ends to marry to one of the sisters. One example is in Act 3, scene 3 where Bianca (the younger sister) laughs at older sister named Katherine who is the Shrew, for marrying a man named Petruchio. The quote reads:“ That, being mad at herself, she’s madly mated”. Later in scene 4 in Act 4, the man Lucentio is speaking with Bianca of rushed she is about marrying someone so fast without thorough thinking through about marriage and its commitments. The quote: “ I cannot tarry. I knew a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for parsley to stuff a rabbit, and so may you sir”. This shows the stereotype of Romantic comedies, by relying on the interest of the tension between the characters and the comedy of the conflicting personalities.
The last major tool of William Shakespeare’s play is the way the characters communicate with each other. Mainly the wording is the most overemphasized of their communications. The manner and phrasing express the character fully even are such short lines like in the first scene in the second act, where the man Petruchio openly portrays Katherine as the town“ buzz”, in attempts to flatter her. This ends with the retort from Katherine which reads for him to“ Buzz Off !”. The quote reads: first Petruchio “ Should be! Should – buzz!” Katherine: “ Well ta’en, and like a buzzard.”
In the end, any show or play or story falls back the relationships between the characters and their conflicting personalities. However old the play and its ideas are the people of today can easily relate to the situations these young lovers get themselves into especially with the amount of technology and its ability to be anonymous. The comedic time timing and situations give this play a fresh story where the uh-oh moments change and shape the growing characters and their personalities. Using the element of love, hiding identity and comedy, the play has landed itself as a historic chapter in romantic comedies with ease.
Exploring Gender Roles in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Taming of the Shrew
Exploring the gender roles in Macbeth and The Taming of The Shrew
Shakespeare uses gender roles in Macbeth and The Taming of The Shrew both as a commentary on society in his time and as a way of flattering King James I, the monarch at the time both of these plays were released.
At the time these plays were published, in the 16th and 17th century, society had a very different view on women and their roles alongside men compared to modern times- they were thought to be only useful for childbearing and housekeeping, and that their nature should be one of timidity and mildness. In 1531, Sir Thomas Elyot said: “A man in his natural perfection is fierce, hardy, strong in opinion” and “The good nature of a woman is to be mild timorous, tractable, benign”. Both Macbeth and The Taming of The Shrew feature male characters who fit the description of what a man in Shakespearean times should be, and also include female main characters who break the mould: be it Lady Macbeth, an independent and strong character who wants respect and power by any means (which, ultimately, becomes her downfall), or Katherina, who refuses to be tame and gentle, until she can take advantage of it for her own gain.
One interpretation of Shakespeare’s use of gender roles in Macbeth and The Taming of The Shrew is that Shakespeare was a feminist- or at least interested in gender equality. By creating powerful main female characters with behaviour and mannerisms similar to that of the ‘ideal man’ he is saying that men and women should be equal- in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is a strong, wilful and decisive character; she gets things done far more efficiently and with much more determination than her husband, who is seen as brave and honourable: “O worthiest cousin”, “brave Macbeth”, the semantic field of honour and courage used to describe Macbeth shows how he is a heroic character and that the other characters respect him. Some literary critics agree: in 1904, A C Bradley said “Lady Macbeth is the most commanding and perhaps the most awe-inspiring figure that Shakespeare drew”. In the play she is shown to have vast ambition and willpower- far more than her husband. She asks spirits (although the speech could be seen simply as a way of preparing herself) to “unsex me here”, “fill me (…) of direst cruelty”, and “Stop up th’access and passage to remorse”. The fact that she is asking spirits or evil forces to help her reinforce the idea that she is an unnatural character by the standards of Shakespearean times. Whether or not she does gain supernatural aid, it is clear that she is much more willing than Macbeth to seize power when the opportunity arises. Similarly, Katherina is also a dominant female character- she answers to no one unless she is treated equally to men. Some critics however, claim that Macbeth is a play about “the victory of masculine over feminine, with there being at the plays’ end a ‘totally masculine world,’ Lady Macbeth dead and the witches gone.”
In the Rupert Goold version of Macbeth, set in the time of the Cold War, we see an older Macbeth, who is considered noble and heroic by his peers, and a (relative to Macbeth’s age) younger Lady Macbeth, who holds a lot of sway over his actions- they are both equals but since Lady Macbeth is but a housewife she wants to gain the power and respect that she believes she and her husband deserve- they are equally ambitious in this way and they both rise and fall in similar ways; portraying them as equals as a couple, but individually Macbeth is praised by his peers at the start and feared by them at the end while Lady Macbeth doesn’t get the same recognition.
Geoffrey Wright’s adaptation of Macbeth, set in modern Melbourne, is very different as all the supernatural elements have been replaced: the witches are now teenage girls, and the visions caused by drugs. Macbeth is portrayed as opportunistic, lustful and shameless (possibly an attitude caused by his drug use), and at the start it is made clear that Lady Macbeth is a little off because the couple lost a child. In this adaptation they are fairly equal, there is a lot of them working together however the version doesn’t focus on their relationship as much as others- it also changes the story, as Macbeth is no longer a tragic hero, as he is a murderous drug lord- because of this the audience no longer pities him and feels bad for his downfall.
In BBC’s ShakespeaRetold version, directed by Mark Brozel, Macbeth is an overworked chef working in an expensive restaurant, who feels like he deserves more from his boss- Lady Macbeth agrees and pushes Macbeth to murder him. Similarly to Geoffrey Wright’s version, it is made clear that they lost a child in the past. The couple are portrayed as equals as throughout the adaptation they work together, with Lady Macbeth covering for Macbeth’s mistakes sometimes. This version modernizes (sort of) the story while keeping the story and the most important aspects of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth the same.
In The Taming of The Shrew, gender equality also comes into play a lot. Katherina is a strong, aggressive character, yet when she finally works together with Petruchio they both benefit greatly; Shakespeare could be saying that society’s view towards women is wrong- that they are equal to men, and instead of one having the advantage over the other, cooperation is needed; the same is also true for Macbeth- Lady Macbeth and her husband work together to achieve their goals (although their goals are a little more sinister). This is further emphasised by all the similarities Petruchio and Kate have- despite seemingly hating each other at first, it doesn’t take long to realise that their personalities are one and the same: they both answer to no one, they both seem to dislike everyone else, they both come from rich backgrounds, they both want to find someone who will be a challenge to them, and they are both quick-witted, as shown by their verbal jousting the first time they meet:
“I am too young for you.”
“Yet you are withered.”
“’Tis with cares.”
“I care not.”
They are both playfully insulting each other- sniffing each other out. This is when they both first realise that they are similar, they continue to insult each other in much the same way good friends do. Many critics agree that this is a feminist play: Michael Bogdanov in 1988 said “I believe Shakespeare was a feminist”, and many deny that it is a sexist play: “(The play) is not a knockabout farce of wife-battering but the cunning adaptation of a folk-motif to show the forging of a partnership between equals” – Germaine Greer, 1970. Some feminist critics claim that the play is very sexist, saying “The last scene is altogether disgusting to modern sensibility. No man with any decency of feeling can sit it out in the company of a woman without feeling extremely ashamed.” This refers to the final scene in which Katherina, after declining to obey her father or Petruchio throughout the play, delivers a speech about the importance of compliance towards ones husband: “dart not scornful glances from those eyes to wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.” Laurie E. Maguire referred to Katherina as “the most obvious Shakespearean example of an abused woman”, saying that there is no way that Katherina wants to obey Petruchio, but that she knows now that she has no choice but to do so.
Franco Zefirelli’s version of the play is very close to the original in that the script is only a little shortened and updated. Throughout the first half play it is made clear that they are fairly equal through their even arguments and violence, after this however, when they are married, Petruchio starts to take control by taking away food, sleep and clothing from Kate, and towards the very end, it appears that she has completely submitted to him, after she gives a speech about obeying your husband- however while he is not looking she leaves the room- something which is not included in the original script- and which causes his peers to laugh at him. In the end, they are portrayed as being fairly equal.
In 10 Things I Hate About You, both Kat and Patrick are portrayed as social outcasts who don’t like to answer to others, and throughout the play they quickly realise how similar they are. This is quite a modern interpretation and so both characters are very even, in fact, (in regards to the Kat and Patrick) gender roles are not really something that is focussed on.
David Richards’ ShakespeaRetold version presents Kate and Petruchio as very uneven at a surface level as Petruchio is practically twice the size of Kate- but quite soon it becomes clear that on a deeper level they are very evenly well matched to the extent that they almost have their own ‘secret’ communication. In the end, they are portrayed as a happy couple. The equality of genders comes into question a lot in this version but it is very clear that they are equal, especially towards the end.
Another interpretation of the meaning of the use of gender roles in Shakespeare’s plays is that he portrays women as weak and ruining everything to impress the King at the time, James I- who replaced a woman as monarch and had a fear of witches. We see this in Macbeth as it is Lady Macbeth’s idea to murder the King, and the whole plan falls apart. Perhaps this is Shakespeare saying that women cannot properly handle positions of power, and that males should handle it- something further emphasised by the fact that at the beginning of the play during the battle, (without Lady Macbeth) Macbeth is successful in war and heralded as a hero- yet once Lady Macbeth enters the fray things start to fall apart.
This interpretation can also be applied to The Taming of The Shrew in that Kate is out of control and disliked by everyone until Petruchio comes along and ‘tames’ her- making her into the ideal 16th/17th century woman.
However this analysis can be turned on its head, in that it may be possible that Shakespeare used gender roles as a commentary on what he thought was wrong with society at the time: in Macbeth he could be using Lady Macbeth (by making the audience sympathise with her) to say that he believes women should be allowed to have power and property, rather than being simply property of their husbands. The same can be applied to The Taming of The Shrew in that Kate is controlled by males (her father) her whole life and rebels against him but when Petruchio comes along she feels as though she is his equal rather than controlled by him.
In conclusion the use of gender roles in Shakespeare’s plays could be interpreted to have a number of different meanings- he may have had an agenda and had one or many meanings behind his use of gender roles in mind, or maybe even none. It is likely however, that he wanted to impress and butter up King James I as without his support, he would not get paid. However alongside this, he could have been subtly mocking James’ and society’s opinions towards gender roles.
Petruchio’s Sin Relation to Dante’s Inferno
Tamed in the Inferno
In William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Katherine is believed to be the shrew within the play. Kate behaves aggressively to all and mocks other characters no matter what they say or how nicely they treat her. However, there is another character with flaws just as bad as Kate’s—Petruchio. He is a wealthy man that is looking for a wife, however, he only desires a wife for a large dowry. His greed comes before love and Petruchio jumps at the chance to woo Kate, who is known for her wealthy family. He is warned about her hot temper but decides that her wealth is worth the chance of a lifetime of misery married to a shrew. Even though Petruchio states he falls in love with Kate later on, his first perspective of her is just her money. This portrays shamelessness, pride, and greed. He also marries her in attempts to tame her, which is potentially an act of deception. His flaws and faults that will be assessed by “The Golden Mean” then henceforth placed into a circle of hell according to Dante’s Inferno.
Using Aristotle’s “The Golden Mean” from Nicomachean Ethics, one can discern the character of an individual. This is used to see what exactly a person’s character consists of and what state it is in. Many are considered to be virtuous because of their internal goodness, but others have an implication of badness among them such as envy or spite. “…the virtue of man also will be the state of character which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well,” (Aristotle, 1220). In Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio is first introduced as a greedy man who is simply trying to marry for money. Aristotle states, “…in these actions people exceed and fall short in contrary ways; the prodigal exceeds in spending and falls short in taking, while the mean man exceeds in taking and falls short in spending,” (1222). There is a strong emphasis on exceeding one’s limits or falling short. These are the two ways that a person can lose their virtue. Petruchio exceeds these limits by action on his desires to have copious amounts of wealth, more than he already owns.
Petruchio is also described as prideful by Shakespeare. “For it is possible to desire honor as one ought, and more than one ought, and less, and the man who exceeds in his desires is called ambitious, the man who falls short unambitious, while the intermediate person has no name” (Aristotle, 1222). Aristotle describes how people are either too prideful which would be unvirtuous, have just the correct amount of pride which is virtuous, or have no pride at all which would be unvirtuous. Petruchio considers himself above others and worthy of winning Kate over as a bride. He is also prideful enough to marry simply for money. His pride is evident in the way he speaks to and treats fellow characters, even those he should regard with great respect. Petruchio considers himself above many because of his father’s inheritance and namesake. Nevertheless, there is no circle in hell for just the prideful. Other sins define a person more thoroughly than just pride. Petruchio would be placed in a circle based upon his greed or deception instead.
In The Divine Comedy, Dante travels through three worlds—inferno, purgatorio, and paradiso. The inferno is Dante’s impression of hell and sinners or nonbelievers are placed in circles according to their defining sins. Shakespeare’s characters all have some sort of flaws and Petruchio has been defined as greedy and prideful. Petruchio would be placed into the fourth circle of Dante’s Inferno based off of his greed. This circle is created for the sinners who are either avarice or spend their money thoughtlessly. Dante describes this circle in canto seven what these sinners are forced to do. “So here the folk must dance their roundelay. Here saw I people, more than elsewhere, many, On one side and the other, with great howls, Rolling weights forward by main force of chest. They clashed together, and then at that point, Each one turned backward, rolling retrograde, Crying, “Why keepest?” and, “Why squanderest thou?” (VII,24-30). Dante describes the toil these sinners must face, with a punishment to fit the sin. They will constantly walk in circles and never go anywhere since their time on earth was spent either trying to make as much money as possible or spend everything they received. Shakespeare creates a character in his play using a flaw of greediness. Within the first act Petruchio is already labeled as greedy. Shakespeare writes:
Petruchio: Signior Hortensio, ’twixt such friends as we
Few words suffice. And therefore, if thou know
One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife,
As wealth is burden of my wooing dance,
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, were she as rough
As are the swelling Adriatic seas.
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua (I,ii,51-62).
This shows how Petruchio is simply marrying Kate for her wealth. He does later state that she wins his heart, but he does not seem to accept her for who she is. Instead, Petruchio tries to change Kate’s behavior by taming her. This could also be potentially viewed as a form of deception.
One could argue that Petruchio deceives Katherine before they are married by convincing her agree to a wedding. He shows that he cares enough to deal with her rough attitudes and she obliges. However, Petruchio keeps his real plan a secret. For example, when Baptista, Kate’s father, and Petruchio talk about his potential marriage, Baptista mentions that the most important thing is winning Kate’s love. Petruchio responds like this, “Why, that is nothing. For I tell you, father, / I am as peremptory as she proud-minded” (Shakespeare, II,i,123-124). He responds as if it does not matter how Kate feels and all that matters is the dowry he mentioned in the lines beforehand. This deception is based off of greed, but the actions are still taken to manipulate Katherine. Petruchio is upfront about his intentions to marry and tame her as described in this passage, “For I am he am born to tame you, Kate, / And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate / Conformable as other household Kates,” (Shakespeare, II,i,266-268). Even though he says he will tame her, Petruchio claims these actions are based on love and his deep affection for her. In the previous acts Petruchio has already been illustrated as a greedy young man intending on marrying for money. This is still a character trait even as he goes into his marriage. If Petruchio was marrying Kate for her own person instead of wealth, he would not have wanted to tame her outright and make her into another person. He views her personality as not good enough for a wife and decides to take matters into his own hands and essentially create his own wife. Petruchio hides this well by claiming his love for Katherine.
Eventually Petruchio gives the audience a clear vision of what exactly he had been trying to accomplish. Here Shakespeare writes,
Thus have I politicly begun my reign,
And ’tis my hope to end successfully. . .
Ay, and amid this hurly I intend
That all is done in reverend care of her.
And, in conclusion, she shall watch all night,
And if she chance to nod I’ll rail and brawl,
And with the clamor keep her still awake.
This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,
And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor. (IV,i,124-145)
Petruchio reveals that he has been purposefully starving his wife and keeping Kate from sleeping so that she will bend to his will whenever he wishes in the future. He also treats her nicely in person, stating that all has to be perfect for the woman he loves. Katherine eventually questions his love and starts to think he is making her suffer for different reasons. She is right about the latter—Petruchio already had stated how he is taming her for his own benefit. He is acting in a form of deceit to his wife. Instead of loving Katherine and accepting her as she is in hopes she will change her shrewish nature, he tries to change her outright and does not give her a chance to make these personality changes herself.
This would be the worst of the sins Petruchio commits, placing him in the eighth circle in Dante’s Inferno. This circle, very close to the center of hell where Satan resides, is reserved for those who are involved with fraudulent behavior. Within the circle are certain divisions where the fraudulent are split into groups depending on the subject of their fraud. For example, there are those who seduce others, flatterers, sorcerers, and false prophets. Petruchio is deceiving his wife into believing he truly loves her in return for a large sum of money. He could be placed into the seventh Bolgia for thieves. “So low am I put down because I robbed, The sacristy of the fair ornaments,” (Dante, XXIV, 115-116). As Dante and Virgil, his escort, delve deeper into hell, their trip becomes more and more treacherous. These deep circles of the inferno are surrounded by horrible conditions and punishments for the sinners as well as danger for Dante. There are also even lower Bolgias that Petruchio could be placed in. He could also be considered a counterfeit and placed into the tenth Bolgia for even worse fraudulent actions, such as deceiving his wife whom he claims to love. This deception is obviously worse than mere greed, but his actions of fraud do not ultimately make Petruchio who he is. Shakespeare created this character as a man who is focused on gaining wealth for his own benefits, no matter the cost. Petruchio does commit unforgivable sins, but his greed is what stands out the most.
If Shakespeare’s Petruchio were to stand before King Minos in Dante’s Inferno, King Minos would decide to place Petruchio in the fourth circle of hell because of his defining sin of greed. This love of money is what drives Petruchio to marry Kate and then deceive her into thinking he truly loved her. This sin truly encompasses his life and affects his decisions throughout Taming of the Shrew. Although fraud is a more serious crime according to Dante, greed is what actually defines him. Therefore, Petruchio would be forced to spend his eternity in the fourth circle of hell.
Patriarchal Marriage Theme in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew
In the play, Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, we see various characters playing different roles with different personalities. In the beginning, Katharina is seen as the shrew that needs to be tamed while her sister Bianca is the innocent, shy, and well-mannered one that all the suitors want. The clause that their father puts forward, however, prevents Bianca from being married before Katharina. This is where Petruchio fits in and makes it his mission to marry her and “tame her.” After marrying her, he puts her through many ordeals and obstacles to break her down and be subjected to him. Patriarchal marriage was a big part of Shakespearean time because it allowed male to dominate over women, and he depicts these gender roles throughout many of his plays. In Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio’s subjection of Katharina not only makes him the shrew truly, but also enforces the system of patriarchal marriage and men overpowering women which was heavily prominent in Shakespeare time. The idea of male supremacy is key in helping men feel that they are truly supreme and have the power, which is important for Petruchio because in the end, Katherina’s loyalty gives him the power and satisfaction of being a real man.
“Encouraging Whistle Berries: Paradoxical Intervention in the Taming of the Shrew” by Richard Raspa reinforces the idea “of patriarchal authority and the marginalization of the feminine voice.” (2) The focus of this article emphasizes the feminist point of view and shows how Petruchio regards Katharina as property and enforces such horrible conditions on her. He also touches upon how this isn’t something new but rather it is tradition of European folklore. This an important idea mentioned earlier as well because it helps in furthering the idea of patriarchal marriage in society in which a woman must obey her husband. The idea of obedience in the play is seen analogous to Milton Erickson’s paradoxical intervention. Paradoxical intervention is defined as “a therapeutic method that induces change by paradoxically encouraging the behavior the therapists seek to discourage.” (105) Through this technique one is able to induce proper behavior by reacting the opposite of what is expected. This is clearly the method that Petruchio adopts to change Katherina and subject him to her.
We see his first act of paradoxical intervention when he praises her behavior and praises her for her “shrewish behavior.” He claims that everything he’s heard about her is a lie, and instead claims “for thou are please, gamesome, passing courteous, but slow in speech yet sweet as springtime flowers.” (2:1:238-2439) While this is before they get married, he begins his taming as soon as they meet in attempts to woe her. But his real taming beings when they get married and he masks each event with her love for her. He uses this psychological battering to exasperate her to a point where she is tamed and listens to his very sentence. By claiming that the meat was burned and she shouldn’t eat it, he forces her to go to bed hungry. He says, “Since of ourselves, ourselves are choleric, than feed it with such over-roasted flesh. Be patient, tomorrow ’t shall be mended, And, for this night, we’ll fast for company.” (4:1:110-114) Despite Katharina’s protests that the meat was fine, eh forces her to believe that it wasn’t and makes them starve. This paradoxical intervention is just one of the many ways he forces her to believe whatever he chooses.
However, it is important to point out that de doesn’t do all of this to merely subjugate her, but to also get her to listen and be obedient like a good wife should be. Kahn states that Petruchio “desires a listening wife.” (110) We see a clear transition in Katherina’s behavior throughout the play. In the beginning, she has an outburst each time she doesn’t get what she wants. She wrangles with her sister, the suitors, the tutor, and even her father. The whole purpose of this is have a doting wife that will listen to his wants, and he uses these measures to get what he wants.
The idea of patriarchal marriage is reinforced even more through the idea of marriage being about money. In the article “The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Mirror of Marriage”, Coppelia Kahn addresses the idea that Katherina’s marriage to Petruchio was a way her father, Baptista, was working with the marriage market and the money he would get from the arrangement. Firstly, he is adamant that Katherina must marry first before Bianca does. This can be seen as a way to make sure Katherina gets married. In the article, Kahn says, “Petruchio’s and Tranio/Lucentio’s frequent references to their respective fathers’ wealth and reputations remind us that wealth and reputation pass from father to son, with woman as mere accessory to the passing.” (91) For Baptista, he needed to make sure that both of this daughters would get married, thus he places this condition down. Also, Baptista reinforces the idea of patriarchal marriage when he says he says the following lines to Katherina. In act 3, scene 2, Baptista says, “Go, girl, I cannot blame thee now to weep. For such an injury would vex a very saint, Much more a shrew of thy impatient humor.” Clearly, he realizes he has done her wrong but Katherina is forced to live with the reality he has imposed on her.
The article also focuses on how Petruchio’s character is shaped by society at that time. The need for Petruchio to marry a woman that would make a “man” mirrors the image of what marriage should be. Specifically, during the time Shakespeare was writing, she says, “He is animated like a puppet by the idée fixe that a man must command absolute obedience from his wife.” Thus, by portraying Petruchio with this idea, the patriarchal marriage is enforced. Through all the manipulation he puts her through, she is forced to answer to his “taming.” The author introduces an idea of the “farce” to represent the taming, which “carries out our desire to simplify life by a selective anesthetizing of the whole person; man retains all his energy yet never gets hurt.” (2) Through this treatment towards her, Kate is forced to automatically react in a way that is pleasing to Petruchio.
The most notable scene in the play is when he says the sun is the moon and she is forced to agree. Katherina says, “Forward, I pray, since we have come so far, And be it moon or sun or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush-candle, Henceforth I vow it shall so for me.” (4:5:12-15) This was such an important point because at this point, he was able to get her to think the craziest thing despite whether or not she believes it. Whether she did this to please him or get out of the situation already, it shows that Petruchio is using farce to manipulate her to form her into the wife he wants her to be. Throughout all of this taming, Petruchio is essentially looking for validation he is a man. To be considered a true man, he must have his wife subject herself to him. Clearly through scene with the sun and moon, Shakespeare shows “that male supremacy in marriage denies woman’s humanity.” (96) Clearly, even Katherina is aware of the bizarre statement she is making but must do so under the order of her husband.
In conclusion, there is an emphasis of patriarchal marriage throughout Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.” There are various ways gender roles and male supremacy are shown through the characters and the scenes taking place. Firstly, it is seen through the fact that the marriage is a monetary transaction for Baptista rather than a marriage for his daughters. Kahn provides an analogy of him playing as a seller in a marker and Bianca is the good product while Katherina is the bad one. Therefore, in order to sell the good one, he makes a condition that the bad one must go first. Clearly, he was playing the game and was able to gain money from Petruchio through this transaction. Lastly and most importantly, Petruchio adopts the form of paradoxical intervention to make Katherina submit to him. While he does so to gain a perfect and doting wife that obeys his every command, this can also be seen as validation for his need to be considered a true man in society. Therefore, patriarchal marriage is a key idea in the play and is shown to represent the ideals of society during Shakespearean time.
Description of Comedic Devices in “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare
A lot of comedic devices have been used to build the hilarity and story of “The Taming of the Shrew”. They have shown how the shrew can be molded with similar treatment as given. These tools assist in paying attention to the tale and ponder on how Petruchio will finally tame Katharina. The story builds with problems like family drama, clever witty language, and unexpected plot twists. All of which form a tale of how woman is changed drastically by one man of who she is arranged to wed.
Common comedic devices used in “Taming of the Shrew” are family dramas. Katharina has not been able be wed as she cannot find a husband that fits her personality, and no one is willing to wed her. Bianca is her younger sister who wants to wed but cannot till Katharina does. Evidently this puts stress on their relationship with each other but as well as on bad terms with their father. This shows, ”
KATHARINA: A pretty peat! it is best Put finger in the eye, an she knew why.
BIANCA: Sister, content you in my discontent. Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe: My books and instruments shall be my company, on them to took and practice by myself. (Act 1 scene 1). “This a comedic device used to produce a funny moment but also explain an actual relationship they have with one another. The relationship of discontent but admiration with unkind language substituted. Finally, after the extended battle between Katharina and Bianca, Petruchio volunteers to take Katharina as his bride.
After family drama is clever witty language depicted in the play. Petruchio has Katharina now but he has to now deal with her vulgar speaking too. He is not afraid of her language and gives the same language back to her alng with a similar position. Stating, ”
PETRUCHIO: What, with my tongue in your tail? nay, come again, Good Kate; I am a gentleman.
KATHARINA: That I’ll try. (She strikes him)
PETRUCHIO: I swear I’ll cuff you, if you strike again.
KATHARINA: So, may you lose your arms: If you strike me, you are no gentleman; And if no gentleman, why then no arms.
PETRUCHIO: A herald, Kate? O put me in thy books!
KATHARINA: What is your crest? a coxcomb? (Act 2, Scene 1).” is proof that Petruchio and Katharina Sustain dispute, but with clever language that is amusing and intriguing. In addition, normally in this age women did not communicate in that way to any one and she is unusual. Petruchio and Katharina will genuinely love one another by the end of their skirmish between each other.
At last, there is the unexpected plot twist for comedic device in “Taming of the Shrew”. During the story a character named Grumio has become closer to Bianca. Grumio is also acquainted with Petruchio and they spend time with each other around Katharina. While Katharina is having her dress tailored, Grumio and the tailor Thought the drees was magnificent on her but Petruchio says that is not so. This, ”
GRUMIO: I confess two sleeves. Tailor: [Reads] ‘The sleeves curiously cut.’
PETRUCHIO: Ay, there’s the villainy. GRUMIO: the bill. I commanded the sleeves should be cut out and sewed up again; and that I’ll prove upon thee, though thy little finger be armed in a thimble. (Act 4, Scene 3).” Is true again both Grumio and the tailor think the dress is amazing but Petruchio thinks it has a “villainy” look. This is a comedic device because the two are earnestly disputing on what is wrong with the dress that looks amazing on Katharina.
Shakespeare’s use of these comedic devices pushed his portrayal of this story and created a more delightful for the audience. Through and through the family drama, clever witty language, and unexpected plot twists he draws an amusing and intriguing tale for everyone!
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.
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.
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.