The Liberation of Katharina in Taming of the Shrew
In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Katharina is presented ambiguously with much debate asking whether or not her character is tamed, liberated or whether or not in reality she was a good enough manipulator to make it appear that she becomes tame when in essence her character remains the same. Within this essay I shall be concentrating on the aforementioned as well as discussing a television adaptation of Taming of the Shrew that presents Katharina not as the expected shrew, but as Petruchio’s tamer.
Katharina is often presented as the whipped Shrew. There is evidence within the play, that supports Katharina is tamed by Petruchio. For example, in the opening of the play, Katharina appears to be particularly vocal and aggressive. It is described how both men, women and children tremble whenever she is present. This effect of her appearance is so strong that this not only effects strangers but includes her father and sister. However as the play progresses Katharina is presented as being mild and submissive to Petruchio, leading to the following speech;
‘Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt. (5.2.146-154)’
In looking at this section of Katharina's speech, it can be seen that she has been tamed by Petruchio's actions throughout the first four acts. It is difficult to take Katharina's message here and say that the essence of her character remains the same. Her monologue reveals that she now sees it is her duty to respect her husband and to be submissive to him. Her speech leads the audience to see that this duty of the wife is one that is a repayment to the husband for all the hard work he does to support her, a debt that the wife could never possibly repay.
There are a number of possible reasons for why Katharina might not have gone through the transgression of change. For example it is notable here that the play takes plays in the course of a few days, is this enough time to warrant a character change as big as this? ? It is very unlikely that it is possible, since Katharina, by the opening of the play, is at least 20 years of age and is very much set into her ways. It would take much longer to cure Katharina of this attitude problem that she perhaps possesses. With this in mind, it is very likely that Katharina was either liberated...