Kate in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew Katharina or Kate, the shrew of William Shakespeare's The Taming Of
The Shrew is sharp-tongued, quick-tempered, and prone to violence and
violent outbursts, especially to anyone who tries to win her love.
This is shown from the beginning in Act One with the scene among
Hortensio and Gremio and her. When Gremio proclaims her "too rough"
(I.i.55) and Hortensio claims that they want mates "of gentler, milder
mould" (I.i.60), she strikes back with such words as "To comb your
noddle with a three-legg'd stool and paint your face and use you like
a fool." (I.i.64-65)
Her hostility and anger towards her suitors is infamous within the
town of Padua. Her anger and rudeness actually hides her deep sense of
insecurity, not to mention her jealousy towards her sister, Bianca.
She speaks these words to her father; "What, will you not suffer me?
Nay, now I see she is your treasure, she must have a husband; I must
dance bare-foot on her wedding day and for your love to her lead apes
in hell. Talk not to me: I will go sit and weep till I can find
occasion of revenge." (II.i.31-36). Clearly she is spiteful because he
has more love for Bianca. They feel that she may become an old maid
with no husband or children, and she herself believes it to be a
The Elizabethan era was a hard time for most women. When you are born
and raised in a society that is male dominated, you have no choice but
to come to terms with it. Mary Wroth states in her writings "a
seventeenth-century woman was usually dependent on men for
self-respect and survival, no matter what her talents or his feelings"
(Swift 162). A woman of that time not only did not have the
individuality and independence that we today take for granted,
apparently she didn't even have rights to her own children. According
to Mary Beth Rose of the Shakespeare Quarterly, "a mother had no legal
rights over guardianship of her children unless explicitly appointed
as guardian by her husband in his willâ€¦According to the law, in sum,
the married woman did not exist" (Rose 293).
Society's expectations concerning a woman's role in a marriage during
Shakespeare's lifetime were that a woman should sacrifice her
individuality in submission to her husband. Such a sacrifice is
totally unacceptable to Katharina, who enjoys her independence.
Most of Shakespeare's society believed that the woman should submit to
her husband, and yet they did not necessarily expect the wife to
sacrifice all of her independence and sense of self. "During the
Renaissance the nature of womankind was a major topic of debate.
Numerous dialogues, defenses, paradoxes, and tributes devoted to
sustaining woman's excellence were...