Marxism In The Taming Of The Shrew

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Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is often attacked for its misogynistic oppression of women and domestically abusive undertones, especially for the ‘taming’ of the titular shrew, Katherina. However, in an at least humanist, if not feminist, point of view, I argue that there are two different but overlapping sets of relationship dynamics between our main couple. Their relationship is constantly dual-layered. The first is the pair’s “madly mated” (3.3.242) personalities which allows them to form a partnership that proves to be a union of equals by Act 5. While the other, shaped and influenced by the social expectations of the ‘public,’ is the dynamic that relies on both of their imaginations to play the roles that they are presumably assigned…show more content…
This underscores the idea that Petruchio could have used simpler words but he makes the conscious decision to speak in a way that amplifies his own ‘manliness.’ Petruchio also uses various metaphors, other than the animal imagery, associated with generally ‘masculine’ activities such as comparing Katherina to a boat (1.2.94), and the endeavour of wooing her to an adventure where he is the hero (1.2.197-205), which in turn, creates an image of him being the man. The falcon imagery even becomes a way for Petruchio to consolidate his own status as a gentleman as falconers are often gentlemen according to Catherine Bates’ essay. The idea of ‘taming’ a woman is also suggested to be a male fantasy; “The taming-school? What, is there such a place?” (4.2.55). This self-fashioning of Petruchio suggests that he is merely playing a role expected of him and that rather than “taming,” he is teaching Katherina to do the same by separating their roles in public and private; “she shall still be curst in company” (2.1.298) which, of course, is reversed in Act…show more content…
As I have mentioned in my midterm essay, he also teaches her the rhetoric that would allow her to be heard and not dismissed. Though in lines 4.3.169-178, Petruchio seems to tell Katherina his justification for not wearing nice clothing, it also doubles as a metaphorical piece of advice and an explanation for his own actions. “Darkest clouds” (4.3.170) seem to suggest that her mean words are what hides the ‘honour’ that ‘peereth in the meanest habit.” The lines suggest that Katherina’s qualities are not worse than her sister’s in terms of beauty or temperament (“The more fool you for laying on my duty,” 5.2.130) perhaps even better due to her intelligence (“For ’tis the mind that makes the body rich,” 4.3.169) but the difference is that she does not know how to show it. In addition, Petruchio may also interpret fanciful words to be something that is dark and dishonourable but in using them, the truth, personified as the sun, can break through them. Sequentially, Katherina consciously participates in the game, but not because her spirit is broken but because she now knows how to ‘play along’ and be able to assert her own thoughts through the borrowing of Petruchio’s and his social status as a ‘man.’ It explains her kiss at the end of 5.1 as it becomes a compromise in order to get what she wants

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