Female Relationships in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream
Often in literature, parallels are used to accentuate certain things. William Shakespeare utilizes this tool in both The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In both of these comedic plays, there is a set of women who are at odds with each other. These relationships can be compared and contrasted in different aspects.
In Shakespeare's, "The Taming of the Shrew" the relationship between the sisters Katherine and Bianca appears to be strained with rampant jealousy. Both daughters fight for the attentions of their father. In twisted parallel roles, they take turns being demure and hag-like. Father of the two, Baptista Minola, fusses with potential suitors for young Bianca and will not let them come calling until his elder, ill-tempered daughter Katherine is married. The reader is to assume that meek, mild-mannered, delicate Bianca is wasting away while her much older, aging, brutish sister torments the family with her foul tongue. Katherine seems to hold resentment toward Bianca. Her father favors Bianca over Katherine and keeps them away from eachothers' torment. When gentlemen come calling, Bianca cowers behind her father and Katherine speaks up for herself. "I pray you sir, is it your will to make a stale of me amongst these mates?" (1.1.57-58)
Bianca and Katherine dislike each other feverishly. Katherine torments Bianca with words and physical harm. She binds her hands, pulls her hair then brings her forth to her father and the gentlemen callers. Bianca denies liking any of the visitors and portrays herself an innocent that merely wants to learn and obey her elders. She says, "Sister, content you in my discontent to your pleasure humbly I subscribe. My books and instruments shall be my company, on them to look and practise by myself." (1.1.80-84) Because Katherine speaks freely and asserts herself she is labeled as "shrewish." When Hortensio describes her to Petruccio, he spouts that she is "renowned in Padua for her scolding tongue." ( 1.2.96) He gilds the lily further by explicitly telling of her fair fortune if suitable man comes courting and wins her hand in marriage. Petruccio sees dollar signs and rushes forth in grand dress and eloquent mannerisms to court the gracious "Kate." When he first begins his ritual of winning the family and Katherine to his love, he is seeking his fortune in her dowry. The mention of her being at all undesirable does not put rocks in his path. He speaks of "One rich enough to be Petruccio's wife, as wealth is burden of my wooing dance be she as foul as was Florentius' love, as old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd as Socrates' Xanthippe or a worse, she moves me not or not removes at least affection's edge in me, were she as rough as are the swelling Adriatic Seas." (1.2.65-71) Petruccio comes calling for the older sister, and Bianca in turn sneaks about with Lucentio who is dressed in scholars...