The Relationship Between Katherine and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew
William Shakespeare is considered the greatest playwright of all time. His gift for developing characters is one major aspect that accounts for this lofty acknowledgement. Shakespeare created various characters from drunks and fools to kings and generals. The characters are so human and so real that the audience can see aspects of their own personalities represented on stage for better or worse. Inadvertently, Shakespeare's ability to characterize any type of person demonstrates his holistic education and knowledge of everything from military strategy and open sea sailing to music and religion. As a result of Shakespeare's true-to-life characters, the relationship between Katherine and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew is completely realistic, reflective of every aspect of the ever-present phenomenon of sibling rivalry.
Some people believe that sibling rivalry is nothing more than a series of petty disputes between hyperactive adolescents, a childhood trauma that most people outgrow. However, sibling rivalry also encompasses much more serious cases, like the permanent enmity between adult siblings. This phenomenon was studied extensively in the nineteenth century, when Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution. At that time, he said that one of the major causes of sibling rivalry is natural, and it occurs in nature when the competition is usually for food. Specifically, whenever two individuals that consume the same type of food co-exist in the same area, they fight with each other until one of them manages to kill or drive the other out, leaving the winner with the exclusive use of the food resources available in that area (77). However, this similar competition has clearly existed between siblings in human families since the beginning of time, as time, attention, love and approval from parents, instead of food, are the scarce resources. In the case of the play, clearly Kate and Bianca compete for their father's attention and Kate's perceived lack of it prompts much of her unattractive personality.
This is first demonstrated in the first scene of the first act, wherein the major problem of the play is introduced: Katherine must have plans to marry before Bianca can even be seriously courted, and Katherine has no suitors because of her shrewish personality. During this scene, Katherine's father, Baptista, humiliates her in public by discussing her personal situation with Hortensio and Gremio; he then offers her to Bianca's suitors as if she were a piece of property.
Both daughters' personalities, especially Katherine's jealously, and its motivation are also manifested in the ensuing events, as Baptista concerns himself with the Bianca's education, while simultaneously completely ignoring Katherine's needs. Finally, her father leaves Katherine behind to talk with Bianca alone....