The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare

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The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare

Play - ISBN: 074347757X

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Review of "The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare"

published 09/10/2004 | danbishop123
Member since : 28/10/2003
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Cons ...hard to get into it at first
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"The Taming of the Shrew"

The taming of the shrew is the only play Shakespeare wrote to include an induction. The induction foreshadows some of the points that happen within the play and makes the play more interesting as a whole. Sly’s identity changes when his clothes are altered just as Lucentio’s does. Sly is obliged to act according to the role in which he finds himself; just as Kate does. Finally, Sly is interested in having a wife over whom he can influence, just as most of the male characters in the main story are.
Katherina is the elder daughter of Batista Minola, a rich man who lives in Padua, he also has a younger daughter by the name of Bianca, who in contrast to Katherina (as her name suggests) is fair, mild and very obedient.

Men see Katherina as a beast, a ‘curst Kate’ a devil even “From all such devils, good Lord deliver us!” few men dare to enter her presence. Her father, Baptista, loves Katherina but finds her challenging to care for as his line in Act 2 Scene 1 shows; “Was ever gentleman thus griev'd as I?” he feels worn out by her and run down, he is becoming desperate to be rid of her. He clearly favours his younger daughter Bianca and Katherina knows this.

Katherina has a distinct abhorrence for men and refuses to marry or even court any of them; in return the men of Padua have a distinct dislike for Katherina. She constantly insults and degrades the men around her, and she is prone to wild displays of anger, during which she may physically attack whoever enrages her.

Baptista Minola still expects Katherina to marry, despite her will not to, he has instructed that she must marry before Bianca does and as Katherina has no suitors, this makes the situation rather derogatory for Bianca’s suitors.

Fortunately, Petruchio makes an appearance in Padua. Here to ‘wive and thrive’ he is surely a perfect suitor for the fair maid Katherina. “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua; if wealthily, then happily in Padua.” Petruchio stating his reason for coming to Padua, and his reason for not caring that Katherine is a shrew. It shows that his main intention is to get her money. Even after being warned he replies “Have I not heard the sea, puffed up with winds, age like an angry boar, chafèd with sweat?” Showing that he has travelled the entire globe and is yet to meet anything which he could not defeat in some way and, therefore, has no fear of ‘curst Kate’.

‘I know she is an irksome brawling scold.’ Petruchio’s words upon hearing about Katherina and Hortensio’s plan; this shows that he has the correct impression of ‘curst Katherine’ and her ways from what little he has heard from Hortensio already.

When Petruchio first meets Katherina they begin a swift round of verbal belligerence, puns and insults their ammunition; tongues their weapons. “Thou must be married to no man but me” asserts Petruchio’s position and will, giving Katherine no option even though she has only just met him. This is where Katherina’s will to fight is shown very strongly; a woman of her time would be expected to obey everything a man told her, do as he instructed and yet she fights on.

Perhaps the strongest theme in the play is irony almost every event in the play is ironic in some way “I'll not be tied to hours nor 'pointed times,
But learn my lessons as I please myself.” Here Bianca begins to show signs of being similar to her sister something that the audience would never expect from the way each woman is made out to be in the start of the play. Katherina her self is ironic for a woman of her time; a typical Elizabethan woman would not have an opinion, nor would she do anything, but what her ‘owner’ told her to do.

Most of the play’s characters appear to believe Katherina to be inherently ill-tempered; it is certainly plausible to think that unhappiness is the cause of her unpleasant behaviour. She may act like a shrew because she is dejected and desperate. There are many possible sources of Katherina’s unhappiness: she expresses jealousy about her father’s treatment of her sister, but her anxiety may also stem from feelings about her own undesirability, the fear that she may never win a husband, her loathing of the way men treat her, and so on.

Katherina does begin to conform however, when Petruchio forces marriage upon her she decides to arrive at the church. It is nebulous as to why she turns up, but I feel that she only intended to embarrass Petruchio and did not expect the ceremony to go through as she still stands by her original, I hate anything that’s male because it think it is better than me, attitude toward life.

Unfortunately, for Katherina, she is the one to be humiliated. Petruchio turns up wearing the most repulsive clothes and riding a dilapidated horse and to add to it all he is late. This is the first stage of his taming methods, in doing this he embarrasses Katherina in front of not only her friends and family but also the entire town of which she grew up in; he has therefore shown his power over her and how he can do as he please to her regardless of her requirements.

Here Petruchio’s taming really begins as he drags Katherina away from her own wedding feast and into the pouring rain on the tiresome journey to his estate. Upon arrival at his decrepit mansion, he is met by his servants who have prepared food for the two newly-weds, however Petruchio declares the food unworthy of Katherina and forbids her to eat, too tired to argue or fight Katherina attempts to sleep only to be denied that right too. Now Katherina is being forced to be everything she has always fought not to be, she is succumbed to a life of obedience and seems to care no longer for her principals.

There is a huge contrast between Bianca’s relationship with Lucentio and Katherina’s with Petruchio; throughout much of the play, Lucentio and Bianca’s relationship seems to be uplifting and clean in comparison to the relationship between Petruchio and Katherina. Petruchio’s decision to marry is based on his self-proclaimed desire to win a fortune, while Lucentio’s is based on romantic love. Furthermore, while Petruchio devotes himself to taming his bride, Lucentio devotes himself to submitting to and ingratiating himself with his. While Petruchio stages his wedding as a public spectacle, Lucentio secretly marries Bianca.

I think this huge contrast was created by Shakespeare to highlight Katherina’s actions, though they would already be very apparent to an Elizabethan audience since this was very atypical of the time, placing a contrasting character in there too allows for greater emphasis and an interesting subplot which twists wonderfully into the main plot as outlined later.

Just as Bianca is Katherina’s opposite the intrepid, lovesick Lucentio serves as a counter for Petruchio throughout the play. Lucentio reflects the sort of idyllic, poetical view of love that Petruchio’s pragmatism dismisses, however when the play advances further and the true test emerges it would appear that Petruchio’s less than traditional method of ‘wooing’ is more effective then Lucentio’s or indeed Hortensio’s as proven by the gambling scene.

The aforementioned ‘true test’ is the bet between Petruchio, Lucentio and Hortensio. This is Petruchio’s chance to prove himself and Katherina’s, in my opinion, to prove herself. Petruchio believing to have accomplished his taming of the shrew bets Hortensio and Lucentio one-hundred crowns that his wife will be the first to appear should he call upon her; the other two see this as an easy way to make a hundred crowns and so accept. Each sends for their wife and to the astonishment of Hortensio, Lucentio and possibly the audience Bianca and the widow refuse to come and Katherina arrives immediately. Petruchio smugly requests that Katherina drag, if need be, the other two ladies before them; she obeys without hesitation.

I think that Katherina probably reformed into a more typical role to win the respect and love of her father, she also knew that Bianca was not as she seemed and perhaps wanted to illustrate this point with her obedience also.

All in all Katherina makes a radical change from her shrewish, self-propelled feminist ways to her new obedient even one might say affable, character as the play draws to a close. Bianca changes in an opposing way, again to perhaps highlight even more so the change within Katherina; this method of emphasis is very effective and helps the audience to understand what Shakespeare is trying to achieve within his play.

Overall, I think this play is an excellent read, but a bit hard to get into.

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Comments on this review

  • danbishop123 published 28/12/2006
    Actually, I quite liked 10 things I hate about you, I thought it was quite a good adaptation given how difficult it is to take something from so long ago and make it relevant to the world of today.
  • andersonfamily published 18/11/2004
    Nice review
  • salem_witch published 10/10/2004
    I enjoyed this as well.
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Product Information : The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare

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Play - ISBN: 074347757X

Product Details

Type: Play

Title: The Taming of the Shrew

Author: William Shakespeare

ISBN: 074347757X

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Listed on Ciao since: 11/07/2000