Petruchio In The Taming Of The Shrew

1578 words - 6 pages

Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew All actions are initiated with a specific intention in mind. For the
most part, a positive, kind act stems from a good intention. However,
what may appear to be hurtful, malicious acts may be motivated by good
intentions. This last case is applicable to Petruchio in “The Taming
of the Shrew.” Petruchio demonstrates cruelty through his actions, but
sensibility through his intentions. Petruchio develops a clever plan
to change Kate first by stifling her personality, then by eliminating
her dignity and finally by torturing her, rendering Kate docile.

From the outset of Petruchio’s appearance in “The Taming of the
Shrew,” he demonstrates cruelty through his actions towards Kate.
During Petruchio’s first encounter with Kate, he frustrates her with
his “goodly speech” (2.1.255) and quick wit, rather than being a
gentleman and showing politeness. He shows no effort to woo her or
follow proper etiquette of the time but rather is intent on
establishing his domineering attitude in the very first moments of his
time with her. At first, it seems as if this is a harmless bickering
between Petruchio and Kate, however tensions escalate and Petruchio
threatens to “cuff [Kate] if [she] strikes again” (2.1.217). This
demonstrates a strong potential for physical cruelty, even though he
restrains himself, the threat still remains. Petruchio’s cruelty
persists, this time in a possessive manner when he declares that “Kate
will be my hen” (2.1.223) and on a much more demanding note when he
states “Will you, nill you, I will marry you” (2.1.263). However,
Petruchio is not simply being cruel to Kate, he has prepared a
strategy to tame her. Petruchio reveals his goal “For I am he born to
tame you, Kate, And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate Conformable
as other household Kates” (2.1.267-270). This is the first example
that allows the reader to decipher Petruchio’s actions towards Kate.
Petruchio is not simply teasing Kate, he is challenging her by giving
her a taste of her own medicine. By doing this, Petruchio is stifling
Kate’s personality, which is the first step towards taming her. Kate’s
proven ability to stand up to her father and the other suitors,
through words and violence if necessary, does not manifest itself here
with Petruchio. In this one confrontation Petruchio has managed to
remove Kate’s individuality as someone else is capable of acting in
the same manner as Kate.

As the play moves on, Petruchio executes some of his cruelest behavior
by humiliating Kate in public on the day of their wedding. A wedding
is one of the most significant events for women, and Petruchio simply

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