Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of Katherina and Petruchio and the nature of their relationship. Focus on their particular scenes in Act two and Act five and compare the difference between them. At the beginning of Act 2 Kat is very violent towards her sister Bianca. This act of physical violence is to show how uncontrollable Kat is. The view of a 16th Century audience towards Kat’s actions would be shocked. For the story to be successful Shakespeare allows you to see Kat at her worst so when she changes the change will make a bigger impact on the audience. A 16th Century audience would be so shocked that this would engage the audience.
Kat has lots of built up inside feelings of frustration and anger. Kat lets hers feeling out and unleashes them by striking Bianca. The hitting of Bianca by Kat foreshadows her hitting Petruchio. Kat is nicknamed a “devilish spirit”. Baptista and Hortensio call her “a devilish spirit”. Shakespeare uses imagery related to hell and evil to reflect how wild the men think she is. A 16th Century audience would be shocked by this as the name “devilish spirit” would have been a very strong use of language at that time and for a women to be called it would have been even worse. Baptista results to calling her this name as Kat has pushed him so far that he loses respect for her. Kat is foul-tempered and often speaks without thinking and constantly humiliates the men around her.
Her outside exterior doesn’t reflect how she feels inside. Kat is determined to get revenge for the way Petruchio treats Bianca so that Kat is seen as the “good girl”. There are two different viewpoints of Kat and Petruchio. Kat shouldn’t be behaving how she is especially as the play is set in the 16th Century. She gives no respect to her father and should be seen and not heard. Although we favor Petruchio, Kat makes herself vulnerable by showing she doesn’t want to be a spinster. She feels sorry for herself, feels she is uglier than Bianca and she deserves all she gets .A 21ST Century audience would be more lenient with Kat they would think that her unpleasant behavior stems from unhappiness.
Petruchio likes the sound of the challenge to turn Kat into a stereotypical woman. Petruchio would be seen by a 16th century audience as a “hero” like figure whereas a 21st century audience would see Petruchio attitude to women as disgraceful. Petruchio becomes more determined to tame Kat, he becomes more dominant and uses reverse physcology on Kat. He does this as he says how he longs to wed her which he expresses this in a soliloquy. Petruchio sound very educated and uses articulate and quick-witted language. Petruchio calls Katherinha “Kate” to show that he is superior, he is her “Master” and he may call her whatever he wants. This also gives her no identity.
After his soliloquy Petruchio puts Kat back down in her place. Kat says, “Asses are made to bear and so are you,” which Petruchio responds with saying, ” Women are made to bear and so are you”. Yet again Petruchio shows how he is “quick-witted”. Kat is confident that Petruchio will give in to wooing her but Petruchio is too strong-minded to let Kat win. Shakespeare uses food imagery to describe Kate. “He is having a cake and eating it” Kat is shown as a cake to show her unimportance although the cake could be seen as a metaphor for the wedding. Shakespeare uses lots of wordplay throughout the play so then it can be interpreted in many ways. Mostly wordplay is used to put a humorous side to things.
During Kat and Petruchio’s verbal fight Shakespeare uses lots of sexual innuendo. In this verbal fight Kat decides to hit Petrucio out of pure frustration and the desire to see Petrucio’s reaction. Petrucio reacts back violently ” I swear I’ll cuff you, if you strike again”. This shows that although he is in control of her, she has angered him. Shakespeare uses the physical act of Kate just like the beginning of the play when she hits Bianca so when she changes it is very noticeable. Petrucio gives a speech of how women should be as in like Bianca. But he then uses animal imagery saying how he will turn her from a wild cat to a house cat. Petrucio says they will marry on Sunday but Kat replies how she would rather be hanged on Sunday first. Kat is unwilling to marry as she is not decided and she tries to put up a fight.