A Critical Look at The Taming of the Shrew

A Critical Look at The Taming of the Shrew - The Taming of...

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The Taming of the Shrew is one of the earliest comedies written by sixteenth and seventeenth century English bard, William Shakespeare. Some scholars believe it may have been his first work written for the stage as well as his first comedy (Shakespearean 310). The earliest record of it being performed on stage is in 1593 or 1594. It is thought by many to be one of Shakespeare's most immature plays (Cyclopedia 1106). In The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio was the only suitor willing to court Kate, the more undesirable of Baptista's two daughters. Kate was never described as unattractive (Elizabeth Taylor played her role in one film of the production), but was known for her shrewish behavior around all of Padua. Bianca, on the other hand was very sweet and charming and beautiful; for these reasons many suitors wooed her. Kate was presented to be much more intelligent and witty than Bianca, but, ironically, she could not compete with Bianca because of these witty comebacks and caustic remarks she made (Dash 830). All of the men who desired Bianca needed somebody to marry Kate, as it was customary for the older daughter to be married before the young one. Finally, Petruchio came along to court Kate, saying he wanted to marry wealthily in Padua. It appeared, though, as if Petruchio was the kind of man who needed an opposition in life. The shrewish Kate, who was known to have a sharp tongue, very adequately filled his need for another powerful character in a relationship (Kahn 419). When Petruchio began to woo Kate, everybody was rather surprised, but Signior Baptista agreed when Petruchio wanted marry her on Saturday of the week he met her. Clearly, he was not opposed because he wanted to hurry and get Kate married so she would not be in Bianca's way anymore. Petruchio showed up to the wedding late and in strange attire, but nevertheless they were married that Saturday. Petruchio began his famous process of taming his bride. From the beginning, Petruchio wanted to dominate a relationship of two dominating personalities. He sought to tame her in a nonviolent but still somewhat cruel fashion. Petruchio's method of "taming" Kate featured depriving her of the things she had taken for granted and been given all of her life, and he sarcastically acted as if it was in her best interest (Leggatt 410). In the name of love, Petruchio refused to let her eat, under the pretense that she deserved better food than what was being given her (Nevo 262). Similarly, Petruchio did not think that her bed was suitable for her to sleep in, so his servants took turns keeping her awake and denying her the sleep that she so desperately needed. When the tailor brought in what seemed to be a very pretty cap, Petruchio refused to let Kate have it, despite her incessant pleas to keep
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This note was uploaded on 01/30/2012 for the course ENG 1401 taught by Professor Johnharwood during the Spring '11 term at Harvard.

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A Critical Look at The Taming of the Shrew - The Taming of...

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