Katherina's Taming By The End Of The Taming Of The Shrew

1958 words - 8 pages

Katherina's Taming by the End of The Taming of the Shrew

When I first began to read ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ I had no prior
knowledge of the play and so approached each word of the text with a
fresh and anticipating outlook. My curiosity to the plays content was
initially sparked by the title; due to my ignorance of Elizabethan
vocabulary I was unaware of the meaning of ‘shrew’ in this sense, and
assumed the play would follow the trails and tribulations of a man
perfecting a rodent novelty act. Much to my disappointment I
discovered that this was not the case when I became aware of the
second definition for ‘shrew’, which remains in the dictionary to date
and is described as: ‘a bad-tempered unpleasant woman’.

Upon the completion of the play it also occurred to me, with
Shakespeare’s lack of stage direction both for the actors and staging,
that just as I had done with the title, it would be possible for an
individual’s interpretation of events within the play itself, to be
profoundly different to that of another reader. In my essay I will
attempt to evaluate a number of different interpretations of
Katherina’s ‘taming’ and aim to explore the difference between a
‘tamed’ Katherina and simply a ‘changed’ Katherina, if indeed there is
a difference.

To gauge how much Katherina changes during the play I must first
establish her character as it is when we are first introduced to her
at the start of the play. As soon as we meet Katherina we (or rather
Hortensio) receive a sharp taste of her initial fiery temper when she
threatens to beat Bianca’s suitor about the head:

“…To comb your noodle with a three-legged stool

And paint your face and use you like a fool.”

There is evidence to support Katherina’s shrewish behaviour in
abundance and there is no doubting her violent and cruel nature as is
displayed in Act 2 scene 1 when she breaks the lute over Hortensio’s
head and later strikes Petruchio during their exchange of banter. She
also ties up her sister right at the start of the scene and proceeds
to mercilessly interrogate her. Many may believe the reasoning for
this is simply in Katherina’s nature, however I beg to differ. I think
that Katherina is a very clever, manipulative character and that her
behaviour stems form partial neglect from her farther Baptista. For
some reason or other Bianca is clearly the favoured child, perhaps it
is because she is prettier, who knows, but there is clearly a lack of
love for Katherina.

She is often insulted by other characters in the presence of Baptista,
in this case it is Bianca’s suitors who throw wanton abuse:

“GREMIO To cart her rather! She’s too rough for me.

There, there Hortensio, will you any wife?

KATHERINA [To Baptista] I pray you, sir, is it your will

To make stale of me amongst these mates?

...

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