Taming of the Shrew
For the sixteenth century “The Taming of the Shrew” was extremely controversial. It portrays an independent young woman who falls in love with the only man she does not scare. For women to voice such strong opinions was considered extremely crude. Today we recognize it as wrong to stop anyone regardless of their religion, race or gender from speaking their piece. “The Taming of the Shrew” should be taught in schools to show how society has changed its opinion about women in the last four hundred and some years.
Katherina and Petruchios marriage is based on interdependency. Kate was forced to marry Petruchio as most women were forced into marriages in those days. A man had to have money to marry a rich girl, that or a noble name. Petruchio doesnt seem to have either but hides it well. Baptista is so baffled by the fact that a man wants to marry his eldest daughter that he doesnt really make sure Petruchio is wealthy as he does for Lucentio (who is really Tranio in disguise). Kate is angry at first because she has to wed Petruchio, a rude, overbearing man that will do anything to make her wrong. Eventually she realizes he is playing a mind game with her. If she does what he says and agrees with him, even if she knows hes wrong, she will get what she wants, a loving husband, a nice home, nice clothes, food and a warm bed to sleep in. In a way she manipulates him into thinking he has won when really they are both equal.
Kates independence is overwhelming for the sixteenth century. Shakespeare had a very wild imagination, he creates a woman who would be respected today but is so extroverted that in its day and age it was almost unbelievable. To contradict youre father or husband was unimaginable. Kate not only talks back to her father but to everyone. She deserved a dose of her own medicine but Petruchio went a bit overboard. Shakespeare was trying to show that not all women are as fragile as Bianca and that men can go too far.
Bianca is a perfect example of the kind of woman that was accepted in the fifteen hundreds. She is sweet and proper and does whatever she is told. She is content to learn and believes that whatever a man tells her must be the truth. She takes her husband for granted though, and does not believe she should obey his every word. She did chose him after all. She is as innocent as can be and yet does not believe Kate when she says “….Thy husband is thy life, thy lord, thy keeper….” (Act5, Scene2, Line146). Bianca has yet to be as tamed as her sister.
Bianca is sweet and portrays all that a woman of the sixteenth century should be. Kate is rude and everything a woman of that time shouldnt be. She is however what most woman are today, open, expressive and independent. “The Taming of the Shrew” shows how much respect women have gained since the fifteen hundreds. Maybe it even had something to do with it.