Over the old ages, there has been much guess into how Shakespeare intended The Taming of the Shrew with thoughts about the function of adult females, to be interpreted. It has been subjected to much rough unfavorable judgment environing its misogynous content with most sentiments being divided into two classs, people who argue the drama ‘s subjects were non meant in a actual sense and so the positions of feminist critics. I believe that the reading of misogynism is important to the consequence the drama has on an audience but I do non believe Shakespeare intended his drama to be anti-feministic. The public presentations of the actresses playing the adult females are besides really of import to if an audience will see it as a misogynous piece but in this essay I will analyze the ways in which misogynism can be interpreted through the subjects and Shakespeare ‘s presentation of different characters.
The subject of misogynism and patriarchate arises through the presentation of the minor female characters every bit good as Bianca ad Katherina. The fact that Shakespeare chooses non to give Hortensio ‘s ‘Widow ‘ her ain name creates the feeling of her as person with no single being of her ain. Her name is defined by her hubby decease, proposing the work forces in her life hence define her and her temperament besides exemplifying their control over her. Shakspere is seeking to convey society at the clip ‘s positions and their intervention of adult females ; how adult females were repressed by male-centred societies and classed as subservient while work forces were superior and had power oven adult females in the late sixteenth century.
Besides the “ affluent widow ” was Hortensio ‘s 2nd pick to Bianca, he really fleetly moves on after he declares he is “ ne’er to court her more ” stating he will get married “ ere three yearss base on balls ” . Shakspere does this to exemplify to the audience how dismissive work forces were of adult females, he uses Hortensio ‘s attitudes towards Bianca as an illustration of society ‘s attitudes towards adult females at the clip. Shakespeare based the character of Bianca on the stock character of ‘Ingenue ‘ , a immature adult female who is beautiful, soft, sweet and virginal. However one time Hortensio realises she is a “ proud contemptuous Haggard ” , Hortensio rapidly “ forswears her as one unworthy of all the former favors that I have lovingly flattered her withal ” . By utilizing continuant initial rhyme, Shakespeare makes Hortensio ‘s choler and feelings of disgust at Bianca ‘s actions clear to us. This shows us that Hortensio merely wanted Bianca when she was obedient and submissive stand foring how adult females were judged by their visual aspects and Bianca was merely sought after and made endearing due to Shakespeare ‘s first presentation of her as a chaste and wholesome “ immature modest miss ” . Hortensio so goes on to state that he requires “ kindness of adult females ” , portraying a stereotyped male chauvinist attitude toward adult females ‘s function in the Elizabethan epoch, to what is expected of a adult females and how they should offer “ love, just expressions and true obeisance ” to their hubbies because they have “ such a responsibility as the topic owes a prince ” .
In Act 5 Scene 2, the widow becomes insubordinate and refuses to come when asked by her hubby. “ She says you have some goodly jest in manus ” demoing how the widow is in control of the state of affairs and therefore stand foring her control over her matrimony to Hortensio ; this is backed up when Petruchio claims that “ Hortensio fears his widow ” . By making this Shakespeare presents the widow as strong character which juxtaposes the earlier reading that she is weak and controlled my work forces due to the name given to her. This oxymoronic presentation of the widow suggests that Shakespeare did non mean the drama to look misogynous but alternatively he was really seeking to set across his position that society intervention of adult females was imprudent. Bill Alexander wrote “ on one degree Shrew is about the power of theater to alter people, to really do people see themselves, and you, through seeing life reproduced on the phase. ” I believe Shakespeare wanted his audiences to see his drama and so reflect on their ain intervention of adult females in general ; this allows ‘The Taming of the Shrew ‘ to be relevant when viewed in any clip period, and non merely when adult females were considered to be beneath work forces.
It could be argued that because Bianca acquires three suers at the start of the drama when she is docile and conforms to the outlooks of adult females in society, Shakespeare believed that this submissive behavior is the right manner for a adult female to move and the he agreed the Elizabethan traditionalistic positions. For illustration, Phyllis Rackin wrote that ‘The Taming of the Shrew ‘ is a drama “ in which adult females are put in their low-level topographic point ” ; she believed that through the portraiture of Bianca, Shakespeare was seeking to apologize the entry of married womans to their hubbies. However as the drama progresses we besides see elements of stock character ‘Femme Fatale ‘ emerging in Bianca ‘s character traits. She shows marks of perchance going a disobedient married woman when she disobedient adult female when runs off and marries Lucentio against her male parent ‘s will, withstanding the dogmatist construct of patriarchate which is a subject that runs throughout the drama where the work forces hold the power and the adult females are excluded from it. In the last scene of the drama, Bianca does non obey Lucentio ‘s petitions, stating him “ she can non come ” . This suggests the emancipation of Bianca and this thought is supported when Shakespeare begins to utilize implicative linguistic communication, connoting to the reader that Bianca is now free from the limitations of Elizabethan society and no longer the apparently perfect and ideal sixteenth century married woman. She uses euphemisms when speaking to Petruchio and Vincentio, saying that she will “ switch my shrub ” so Petruchio with “ prosecute me as you draw your bow ” . By utilizing the noun “ shrub ” which can hold sexual intensions, she refers to her pubic hair which would hold been seen as a vulgar subject of conversation. When she says “ prosecute me ” she is proposing that another adult male who is non her hubby should tribunal her and in the Elizabethan epoch this would hold been improper because so a adult female should non be a “ unpleasing treasonist to her loving Godhead ” . Bianca goes on to advert more forbidden topics such as criminal conversation, when she suggests that that Hortensio ‘s “ caput and butt where caput and horn ” because his widow has been unfaithful. This refers to the stock Elizabethan joke of cuckoldry where a hubby would be humiliated by being forced to have on horns on his caput.
Through this bawdry raillery, Shakespeare differs his presentation of Bianca in Act 5 Scene 2, proposing that Bianca and Katherina have swapped functions because Bianca is no longer controlled by her male parent and she has become a nagging character. We are led to believe that Kate and Petruchio are the lone happy matrimony which consequences from the drama when Shakespeare uses riming pairs “ come, Kate, we ‘ll to bed. We three are married, but you two are sped. ” The rhyming of the words “ bed ” and “ sped ” represents how Katherina and Petruchio ‘s relationship is eventually harmonious and there is a sense of frivolousness and gaiety in their matrimony. This is considered the denouement of the drama and hence I think that through Shakespeare ‘s presentation of Katherina and Petruchio ‘s congruency at the terminal and because the ‘Ingenue ‘ of the drama transforms into “ a adult female mov ‘d ” , Shakespeare is seeking to state us that the perceptual experience of the ‘perfect adult female ‘ in the sixteenth century is incorrect. He shows us that it will non ensue in a happy life where as the feisty and stronger female in head and in organic structure ( Katherina ) who is stronger willed will contend for herself and her rights ; Shakespeare presents his position that in world this is the ideal married woman even though this goes against the positions of adult females in society at the clip.
Another manner in which Shakespeare shows he believes that the society in the sixteenth century and their ideals were narrow minded is his portraiture of Lucentio and Bianca ‘s relationship. Lucentio is portrayed as a character with true purposes with sincere and echt affectionate feelings for Bianca when he says “ sacred and Sweet was all I saw in her ” . Shakespeare uses fricative initial rhyme here to underscore Lucentio ‘s feelings for Bianca, it shows us his worship and infatuation with her. This was an illustration of the Courtly Love Tradition in action, an ideal relationship where love is practiced as an art which is highly passionate, yet disciplined. Bianca ‘s relationship with Lucentio originated from the ‘Lover ‘s relationship ‘ in Commedia Dell’Arte ‘s, Isabella and Flavio, they were over overdone characters foolish who were in love with thought of love. The folly and naivete of their manner of thought is shown when Lucentio says “ I burn, I pine, I perish ” . Shakespeare uses this three-party anaphoric construction and adds an excess syllable to the full line, abandoning the usage of iambic pentameter antecedently employed by Lucentio ‘s character, to add emphasise to the verbs used which are inflated. By making this Lucentio ‘s feelings seem even more over the top because he has merely merely caught a glance of Bianca from afar and he is already “ found the consequence of love in idling ” . Shakespeare besides sets their idealistic relationship in the mist of travesty demoing he wants to mock the courtly love tradition and hence mocking the thought that Lucentio and Bianca ‘s relationship is idyllic ; the drama was non meant to be misogynous but Shakespeare finds a adult male hankering for a ‘perfect adult female ‘ to be stupid.
The impression that Shakespeare lived in a clip where all adult females were powerless and work forces were the superior race, is non wholly true. There were exclusions to the regulation such as caput strong and influential adult females such as Queen Elizabeth I, who was in power at the clip. There were surely gender issues present in the Elizabethan society, but most people had important regard for the Queen, such as Pope Sixtus V who wrote “ she is merely a adult female, merely kept woman of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all ” . There appears to be many analogues in the features of Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare ‘s character, Katherina ; both were plucky obstinate adult females who knew their ain head and did non desire to be ruled by a adult male. Therefore I think the death of Katherina in the drama is meant to be perceived as tragic. The reading of Katherina ‘s concluding address is critical to how an audience will construe the full drama and its misogynous subject throughout. To make up one’s mind how Shakespeare wished the drama to been seen by his audiences, we must analyze his presentation of Katherina in the drama and how her character alterations and develops as the drama progresses.
We are foremost introduced to “ Katherine the curst ” in Act One Scene One where it is made clear to the reader that “ she is an irksome, wrangling nag ” and a hot treated termagant before she even speaks when Gremio states “ she ‘s excessively unsmooth for me ” . He besides says that he would “ haul her ” mentioning to the sixteenth century act of roasting boisterous adult females by exhibiting them through the streets in a cart. By making this, Shakespeare invited poignancy for Katherina ‘s character because the reader feels as though she is being prejudiced against because she is non “ of a gentler and milder mold ” like her sister. Katherina ‘s presentation greatly juxtaposed the presentation of her pure and “ white ” sister being referred to as “ Minerva ” by Lucentio. However because it is Gremio who is dissing Katherina, naming her a “ monster of snake pit ” , and the amentia of his character exists because he is based on one of Commedia Dell’Arte ‘s stock characters ‘Pantalone ‘ , who was traditionally the sap of any drama, Shakespeare is evidently roasting the Elizabethan outlooks to be an obedient adult female, intending that his purposes for the drama was non for it to interpreted in a misogynous manner.
In Act 3 Scene 2, Shakespeare shows Katherina to be a character with intense emotions, he uses continuant initial rhyme by the repeat of the harmonic ‘f ‘ when Katherina says “ I told you, I, he was a frenetic sap ” . Shakspere does this to do Katherina ‘s rage clear to the audience, which so contrasts with how she so exits the phase sobbing and in a perturbation. This is wholly out of character, juxtaposing her earlier “ crust ” . Shakspere does this to demo the existent deepness of Katherina ‘s character ; it reveals her true feelings for Petruchio leting the audience to sympathize with her character. Baptista besides says that he “ can non fault thee now to cry ” , and by making this Shakespeare shows a new side to Baptista ‘s character ; he is sympathizing with the girl he earlier called “ a termagant ” and “ thou hilding of a diabolic spirit ” . This invites poignancy for “ hapless Katherina ” from the audience and because she “ must forsooth be forc ‘d to give my manus oppos ‘d against my bosom ” . He is showing his position which opposes how Elizabethan societies were antithetical towards adult females.
Shakespeare besides does through Petruchio ‘s irregular methods to “ adult male my Haggard ” , which push the boundary between comedy and inhuman treatment because all of his actions being done to intentionally worsen Katherina. Shakespeare uses carnal imagination to depict Katherina ; Petruchio says “ my falcon ” utilizing the imagination of this bird of quarry as a metaphor for Katherina ‘s “ impatient temper ” . A falcon is a barbarous bird when in the wild but they are besides used in falconry where they are controlled and trained to be disciplined. The falconry mention is used as a prefiguration device to connote to the reader that Katherina will shortly be tamed and submissive to Petruchio ‘s demands. So that Katherina will “ cognize her keeper ‘s call ” , Petruchio adopts the same attack “ to chasten a termagant ” that an proprietor would with his falcon. He says that Katherina “ now is crisp and go throughing empty ” and insists that “ till she stoop, she must non be to the full gorg ‘d ” . Shakespeare uses the noun “ keeper ” to demo Petruchio ‘s misogynous positions and his favoritism against adult females. We can see his obvious objectification of Katherina and how he wants her to belong to him and be in his ownership. Many critics such as Bernard Shaw have felt that Petruchio victimised and abused Katherina and his intervention of her “ is wholly gross outing ” , he goes on to state that “ no adult male with any decency of feeling can sit it out in the company of a adult female without being highly ashamed of the lord-of-creation moral implied ” by his actions. However I think that Shakespeare supported adult females ‘s rights due to his portraiture of the female sex in some of his other dramas such as Lady Macbeth or Cordelia and her sisters in King Leah. These were all strong minded adult females back uping Asimov ‘s thought that “ Shakespeare ‘s heroines are, if anything, wiser, more capable, and better than his heroes ” . Although critics have argued that in the last scene “ what Shakespeare emphasises here is the folly of seeking to destruct order ” ( G.I. Duthie, 1943 ) , I believe that Conall Morrison was right when he said that the drama is “ a moral narrative ” stating that “ it is so self-evidently repellant ” due to the obnoxious positions refering the adult females in the drama “ that I do n’t believe for a 2nd that Shakespeare is adopting this ” . He believed that through ‘The Taming of the Shrew ‘ , Shakespeare was “ investigating misogynism, researching it and inspiring it and evidently cursing it ” because of the male characters ‘ stereotyped behaviour of “ defaulting to power places and self-defense and position ” when “ one adult female was a challenge to them ” . He said that because “ they are all elated and relieved ” to see Katherina and “ with all her humor and mind ” crushed, Shakespeare ‘s drama is “ evidently a sarcasm on this male behavior and a prophylactic narrative ” .
Katherina ‘s last address is overdramatic and so flowery that it is exaggeratedly misogynous. There have been many different readings of this last address, the most popular adopted by critics are that it is dry, sarcastic, sincere or that it can non be taken in context due to the comedic ludicrous elements of the drama. Katherina negotiations about references mercenary things such as “ beauty ” which seems unusual in context with her characters earlier presentation when she mocked Bianca in Act 1 Scene 1 for being a “ reasonably peat ” . Thus it seems implausible that “ she will be tam ‘d so ” significance that the likely reading of Katherina ‘s behavior is ‘tongue-in-cheek ‘ . Besides this is backed up when Shakespeare adds accent to line “ thy hubby is thy Godhead, thy life, thy keeper, ” by utilizing 11 syllables whilst composing in the signifier of iambic pentameter. This besides highlights the nexus Petruchio ‘s earlier line mentioning to him being Katherina ‘s “ keeper ” . Petruchio ‘s “ reign ” over Katherina hence seems to be excessively good to be true, doing the audience believe Katherina knew about his program to “ kill a married woman with kindness ” all along, and therefore her concluding address would be performed sardonically because she is non tamed but humoring Petruchio, doing the drama ironically proto-feministic.
However my position is like that of Lisa Dillon ‘s who played Katherina for The Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012. She stated that “ Petruchio gives her the power of address and linguistic communication: he gives her freedom to talk. That is non a adult female being crushed ” . Katherina ‘s “ confident control of linguistic communication “ in her concluding address demonstrates that she is non broken or lobotomized but instead fired up and inspired. The linguistic communication used is poetic, Shakespeare utilizing rhetorical devices, for illustration the similes “ as hoars do seize with teeth the Meads ” and “ as whirlwinds shake just buds ” in sequence of each other. Shakespeare uses a three-party polysyndetic list and redolent adjectives, composing “ soft and weak and smooth ” to stress the appendages of what Katherina is experiencing and stating, doing the audience believe, non in Katherina ‘s earnestness to her words but her sincere feelings for Petruchio. Others have agreed with this position that “ Kate ‘s journey can be seen as a procedure that brings her to a full realisation of her potencies as a adult female instead than as a procedure of brainwashing, oppressing her into cowed entry ” ( Wells 51 ) . Katherina is still dominant over Bianca even though her positions have apparently altered significantly. This shows that Katherina ‘s spirit has non been “ crushed ” and she still is a forceful character but now has the blessing of a male.
The subject of misogynism running throughout this drama is questionable due to Shakespeare ‘s inclusion of the Induction. It places the Katherina and Petruchio secret plan on a none realistic degree due to the thought of it being ‘a drama inside a drama ‘ . This allows everything within the secondary drama to look less existent and it is so viewed as a ludicrous and floaty comedy and by making this, Shakespeare shows that he wants the audience to non take drama subjects of ‘Female Submission ‘ literally. The initiation, nevertheless, was non kept up throughout the drama, therefore, I believe audiences will take the misogynous and patriarchal secret plans refering Bianca and Katerina more earnestly than Shakespeare intended them to be. Shakespeare shows that he did non believe in these repeating subjects associating to the attitudes of societies of the clip because in ‘The Taming of the Shrew ‘ he mocks the all the outlooks and traditions present in the Elizabethan period. At the clip, Shakespeare ‘s position on adult females displayed through his female supporters was really advanced and modern-day, showing them as the dominant gender. However the attitudes of certain characters in his dramas mirrored the mentality of the people of his clip nevertheless the manner he presented his adult females showed that he saw adult females really otherwise from the manner most people in that epoch.