Taming Of The ShrewIn the beginning of “The Taming of the Shrew”, some say Shakespeare portraysKatherina as a very shrewish figure. Others may argue that she is not shrewishbut just a very strong willed person.
At the end of the play some people say sheis transformed into a very kind and gentle person, while again others will arguethat she is not “tamed” but just putting on an act to “show up” heryounger sister Bianca, whom has always been more beautiful and charming. Kate is”like a wasp, like a foal, like foal that kicks from his halter; pert, quickand determined, but full of good heart. ” 1. This statement made by one author,shows clearly that he does not see her as shrew-like, even at the beginning ofthe play. The same author states that at the end of the play she has not reallytransformed, rather she has just fallen in love with Petruchio, in essence sheis free from torment because she is no longer seen as the shrew.
In thebeginning of the play Kate is “consistently in opposition to everything aroundher”2, meanwhile “Bianca obeys so gently and with such sweet submission thatit is obvious why she is Baptista’s favorite daughter”2. In the end of theplay, the roles switch and Katherina is submissive to every word of Petruchioand Bianca resists the commands of her new husband. Kate’s first reaction toPetruchio, her “mad wooer”, is self-pity, and even her father feels that histreatment of her would “vex a saint”. He takes her away from the home she isused to, with servants and maids to wait on her hand and foot, to the country. There she is away from the luxurious town life and is cold, hungry and tired. She somewhat learns to watch her temper and obey Petruchio so that he will feedher so she can survive peacefully rather than miserably.
I believe that hismethod of taming her is not cruel yet very effective. He shows her that she canget much farther and live life a lot happier if she is nice and “entreats”him rather than fighting him. One author (pattern in carpet) says thatShakespeare sees Katherine and Petruchio as in love at first sight. He says thattheir fights are partly like a game and partly a matter of egoism. He seesKatherine as “testing” Petruchio making sure he is “man” enough to putup with the worst of her and prove to be the husband she requires. Petruchioaccepts her challenge with delight (and to get Baptista’s money), passes allof her tests with ease and in fact does prove to be a suitable husband.
Petruchio starts to tame her from the very first time they meet. He stays calmwhen she yells and does exactly the opposite of what she expects him to do. Hecontinues his taming at the wedding by acting even worse than she does, and in away, he paints a portrait of her for her to see. He believes that if she seesthe way she acts by repeating her actions, that she will want to change, to bemore pleasant. I think she acts the way she does in part because she doesn’trealize what she does and to people and doesn’t fully know why people call herthe shrew.
By repeating how she acts Petruchio not only tames her but he winsher love. Even on their wedding day Kate is still furious and does not want tomarry Petruchio. She begins to declare that she will NOT marry him, but he cutsher off and gives her a kiss. Then he will not even let her stay for her ownwedding dinner. I believe that this is all part of his plan to tame her.
In theend of the play, some may say she is tamed, while others will say she has justplainly fallen in love. But any way you chose to look at it, she is definitely achanged person. When the other men call for their wives, they send back a replystating that they are busy and just plain ignore their husband’s commands. Onthe other hand, when Petruchio beckons Kate all of the men expect her to yelland scream as she always did. But to their surprise obediently came immediately. She even makes a speech to the other girls on how they too should be obedient totheir husbands.
Once she is finally tamed, she would do anything to pleasePetruchio. One author states “she would call the sun the moon, and address oldVincentio as a young girl”3. She is so tamed by this point that she would evenkiss him on a public street at his command. An act like this would have beencompletely unthinkable at the beginning of the play. He even tries to kiss herin the beginning and she refuses so he must lie to Seignior Baptista to convincehim he has done a good job at wooing her. He also says that she has a new-builtvirtue, that not only wins the wager but it convinces her father to raise herdowry by twenty thousand crowns.
The other view, that she is not really tamedhas its arguments as well. Some people see the end of the play as not a sign ofobedience, but just change. It is thought that she still has control over whatPetruchio does, but in a different, more mind manipulative way. She may besubmissive to him, but at the same time, he is just as submissive to her.
Ithink that he didn’t only tame her, but she tamed and controls him by craftand not violence. Katherina is not the only one in the play to undergo atransformation. Petruchio, in the beginning went to woo Katherina only formoney. He was offered a dowry by Seignior Baptista to “get rid of” Kate sohe could wed his younger daughter Bianca to one of her many suitors.
By the endof the play, it is made clear that Petruchio too changed and had fallen in lovewith Kate. The relationship that they have at the end of the play is truly love. They both are willing to change to make each other happy and they both try inevery way possible to make peace in their family. The ironic part of the play isthat they both think that they have control over the other one. All in allKatherina undergoes a complete metamorphosis from the beginning of the play tothe end of the play.
She starts out a girl, acting like foal trying to kick freefrom her harness and ends up a submissive, sweet, gentle and kind woman, whom iscontrolled yet, controls her husband Petruchio, whom she ends up loving dearly.