The Effectiveness Of Shakespeare’s Linguistic Choices In Conveying The Power Struggle Between Katherine And Petruchio

1813 words - 7 pages

The Effectiveness of Shakespeare’s Linguistic Choices in Conveying the Power Struggle Between Katherine and Petruchio

This essay will study the text ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ by William
Shakespeare. It is a play written in London in 1592 and published in
1623. The play is set during the Jacobean era (1420-1600). The purpose
of the play is to entertain an audience. The secondary purpose may be
to inform a modern audience about power and roles of men and women in
the Jacobean era. During this period of time, a person’s power was
shown by the language they used, so the more quick-witted and
articulate a person was in conversation the more social power they
held. Shakespeare uses various linguistic features in conveying the
power struggle between Katherine and Petruchio.

Throughout the play Petruchio belittles Katherine and damages the face
she presents of herself in an effort to ‘tame the shrew’. ‘Kath. A
joint-stool. Pet. Thou hast hit it. Come, sit on me.’ The face that
Katherine presents is not that of a typical woman. She is very
vituperative and unwilling to conform to society’s expectations of
marriage. And by using this sexual innuendo to counter her insult,
Petruchio performs a face threatening act. He reminds her of his
intent to marry her and the fact that to him, she is just another
woman. The utterance ‘Come, sit on me,’ is an imperative. By using
this Petruchio is suggesting that he feels he has enough power over
her to be able to order her around. This damages her positive face of
self-image, but she counters this insult in an effort to preserve her
face. ‘Kath. No such jade as you, if me you mean.’ The noun ‘jade’
refers to a worn out horse. This connotes he is infertile and thus
insulting his manhood. This insult is also a face-threatening act as
it damages Petruchio’s positive face. He thinks he is man enough to be
the one to ‘tame the shrew’ but by saying this Katherine is telling
him he is not. Both characters use face threatening acts to attempt to
gain power of the exchange. Petruchio also uses connotation to damage
Katherine's face. 'Pet. Alas, good Kate, I will not burden thee! For,
knowing thee to be but young and light.' The adjective 'light'
connotes sexual promiscuity again reminding her that he sees her as a
woman he can easily woo contrasting with the strong women she sees
herself as. The adjective ‘young’ connotes that she is naïve and
therefore not able to match his wit, allowing Petruchio power over the
exchange.

Petruchio uses a pun to make fun of Katherine. 'Pet. For dainties are
all Kates.' The pun is on the word ‘cates.’ These are a form of
delicate food. This connotes the idea that Kate is delicate and
lady-like. This riles Katherine as, as well as using the name that she
does not like he is seeing her as the opposite she sees herself and by
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