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.

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