The Taming of the Shrew

Length: 1259 words

The Taming of the Shrew, written by William Shakespeare, is historical proof that flirting and temptation, relating to the opposite sex, has been around since the earliest of times. Because males and females continue to interact, the complications in this play remain as relevant and humorous today as they did to Elizabethan audiences. This is a very fun play, full of comedy and sexual remarks. It’s lasting impression imprints itself into the minds of its readers, for it is an unforgettable story of sex, flirting, and happiness. The Taming of the Shrew remains as relevant today because of its relation to the age-old story of the battle of the sexes and dynamics of marriage, as well as the woman’s struggle with both of these.

Katharina and Petruchio share an unusual relationship; he has trouble taming her, and she battles with keeping him happy, for she is now in love and is experiencing something new. “The Taming of the Shrew is sometimes seen as an account of the tyranny of man over woman, but this is a misinterpretation stemming from our distance from the assumptions of Shakespeare’s day” (Shakespeare A to Z 626). The irony of their marriage is vividly expressed when it

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is revealed that Petruchio is merely looking for a woman who is capable enough to run his estate. In this sense, he has taken advantage of her, for she has unwillingly fallen in love. “He chooses Kate as he would a horse, for her high mettle, and he must use at least as much intelligence and energy in bringing her trust to him, as he would in breaking a horse…” (Greer 40). Shakespeare also uses this recurring theme later in The Comedy of Errors, when Luciana reminds Adriana that “ men are masters of their females” (The Comedy Of Errors).

Most people marry for love, but not in this case. Petruchio and Katharina both married for reasons other than love. Ironically, they prove to be perfect for one another. Though Katharina seems heartless and unemotional, her one true fear is losing Petruchio. “ It is surely worth remarking that Kate has only one true moment of agony, when Petruchio’s deliberately tardy arrival for their wedding makes her feel jilted” (Bloom 30-31). Their mutual roughness seems to be their way of flirtation. Though Katharina feels that Petruchio is “a mad rudesby full of spleen,” she realizes that she is truly in love and is lucky to have any husband at all, and will not, as the villagers say, “lead apes to hell” (Draper 95). The ironic counterpoint of their relationship is that while Katharina is easily tamed, Bianca, who needs no taming, is difficult for Lucentio to tolerate.

“Kate the curst” and “lusty wench” are just few of the many names used by the villagers to describe Katharina (Draper 93). Her sarcastic attitude and violent temper ruin all of her ladylike qualities. In order to tame her, Petruchio must act in the same manner in which Katharina acts. “Their war begins as mutual sexual provocation, which, after marriage, is replaced with childish tantrums” (Bloom 29). Petruchio plans to deprive her of what she is accompanied to, such as sleep and food; he does this in such a cunning manner in which she cannot possibly be mean to him, for he is acting the way in which she acts. Petruchio counterpoises his method of fighting fire with fire by constant praise of those virtues which she conspicuously lacks throughout the play: modesty, gentleness. This is proof that Katharina is not so much tamed, as she is educated. Virtually, Petruchio has exaggerated the behavior by which Katharina distinguishes herself as different. He now has a better understanding for her, and she understands both herself and him. “When Katharina’s transformation began, her first reaction was self-pity” (Draper 98). Her steps of recovery are shown as her changes in psychological attitude. By the end of the play, Petruchio and Katharina are truly in love and share a bond so special and ironic that it could never be imitated.

All plays receive much criticism, including this one, but The Taming of the Shrew also receives its share of praise. “A play in which the heroine can be referred to as the devil, a wench, a fiend of hell, a rotten apple, and so on has been saved in the form of a farce and an asset to historical writings” (Van Doren 91). The Taming of the Shrew remains as one of the greatest Shakespearean plays. It draws in its readers and relates itself to each of their lives. “Plays like this one capture the spirit of the world, and are especially magical and lighthearted” (Chapman 32). It can be observed through this play that even writing of so long ago relates to the times of today. This play also relates to all kinds of audiences – young and old. A play that can be written so long ago and still remain a classic in the modern world of today can truly be recognized as one of the greatest and most valuable writings of all time.

Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York:
Chapman, John Jay. “Shakespeare’s Comedies are Playful.” Readings on
William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego:
Draper, John W. “An Understanding of Elizabeth Medicine Enlightens The
Taming of the Shrew.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
Greer, Germaine. “Shakespeare’s Comedies Show Women as Equal Partners
With Men.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies.
Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 39-45.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The Shakespeare Handbook. 1987. 100-101.

Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. “Imagery Establishes Atmosphere and Background in
the Comedies.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies.

Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 62-71.

Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. Shakespeare’s Imagery and What It Tells Us.

New York: The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1981.

“The Taming of the Shrew.” Shakespeare A to Z. 1990. 623-629.

“The Taming of the Shrew.” The Shakespeare Handbook. 1987. 96-97.

“The Taming of the Shrew .” Masterpieces of World Literature. 1989.
“The Taming of the Shrew.” Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism. Vol.1.

Van Doren, Mark. “The Taming of the Shrew is a Farce.” Readings on
William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego:
Bibliography:
Works Cited
Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York:
Riverhead Books, 1998. 28-35.


Chapman, John Jay. “Shakespeare’s Comedies are Playful.” Readings on
William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego:
Greenhaven Press, 1997. 92-99.


Draper, John W. “An Understanding of Elizabeth Medicine Enlightens The
Taming of the Shrew.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
92-99.


Greer, Germaine. “Shakespeare’s Comedies Show Women as Equal Partners
With Men.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies.
Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 39-45.


“Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The Shakespeare Handbook. 1987. 100-101.


Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. “Imagery Establishes Atmosphere and Background in
the Comedies.” Readings on William Shakespeare The Comedies.

Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 62-71.


Spurgeon, Caroline F.E. Shakespeare’s Imagery and What It Tells Us.

New York: The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1981.

286-287.


“The Taming of the Shrew.” Shakespeare A to Z. 1990. 623-629.


“The Taming of the Shrew.” The Shakespeare Handbook. 1987. 96-97.


“The Taming of the Shrew .” Masterpieces of World Literature. 1989.
837-840.


“The Taming of the Shrew.” Moulton’s Library of Literary Criticism. Vol.1.

1966.212-214.


Van Doren, Mark. “The Taming of the Shrew is a Farce.” Readings on
William Shakespeare The Comedies. Ed. Bruno Leone. San Diego:
Greenhaven Press, 1997. 87-91.

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