The Construction of Femininity In Taming of The Shrew
In Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare tells the story of two sisters
with conflicting personalities representing constructions of
femininity. I will be looking at the different constructions of
femininity throughout the play and the different ways a female can be
constructed through illusion.
At the start of the play, a tinker called Sly has a trick played upon
him. The trick is a trick of illusion, making him believe he is a
lord. He is told he has a mock wife. However, The fact that his 'wife'
is the ultimate deception being a boy. Shakespeare constructs the text
so that you can guess that it is a boy dressed as a girl from the
comments he makes about the suggestive remarks that Sly makes to Page.
Sly's wife is illusory as is our communes of the two women. This is
also a hint of what they might be seeing in the play that follows, is
also in illusory. The play could be seen as Shakespeare discussing
what really constitutes femininity and what is illusory.
Katherine and Bianca in the main play eventually appear to be
deceptive as well as the "Wife" Sly story. The story constructs the
appearances of both women through the men's words, giving you a idea
of how both women are seen through men's eyes. The descriptions show
the extent of how both women are locked into their identity that has
been constructed for them, for example, Act 1 Scene 2; the
conversation with Hortensio and Petruchio is discussing the two
'And wish thee a shrewd ill-favored wife?
Thou'd thank me but a little'
Hortensio believes that Katherine is not suitable for his friend.
Petruchio believes that none is ever bad, they are always unbind from
the spell, he refers to old folk tales of women that have been unbound
from the spell of immorality,
'Foul as Florentius' love,
As old as Sibyl,'
Kate's is socially unacceptable and she remains undesired and mocked,
and she admits herself, that it is humiliating for her not be
preferred. Although this is the way that she has been constructed
through men's point of view of how she acts towards them. Obviously,
the way Kate is described, as is not the way she wants to be known as,
although it is her natural performance yet her act of femininity is
not socially accepted into the world. Her father, Baptista also
believes that Kate is socially unacceptable. He feels love towards
Bianca and not Katherine. Katherine is not jealous of her sister as
provoked, she is just suffocated and she expresses that through anger
and beating in Act 2 scene 1. Katherine is sick of doing what is
wanted to let Bianca get what she wants.
'I must dance barefoot on her wedding day,
And for your love to lead apes into hell.'
However, her sister Bianca's construction is socially acceptable. She
is preferable and she obviously enjoys her status in society.
The character Petruchio is not attracted to the way that the female is