View Full Version : Taming of the shrew

12-03-2006, 09:25 PM
My opinion on Shakespeare's taming of the shrew is that is is a dark comedy. Is there anyone who can back that up

12-04-2006, 11:35 AM
Hi there, Red - we share a prefix.

You call "Shrew" a "dark" comedy - but since your descriptive term is metaphoric, we need to be clear on what you mean before proceeding. I take your meaning to be that "Shrew" is a comedy with undertones of what is called "black comedy" - i.e. comedy that has subtle themes of "dark" nature - violence, oppression, hatred, etc.

Why do you think "Shrew" is "dark"? What about it prompts such a description? If you could shed some light on how you came to your judgment, perhaps I could comment more.

12-04-2006, 01:14 PM
Many people refer to the taming of the shrew as a dark comedy, The reason for this is because shakespeare makes light of many serious themes and/or events in the story. Do you feel that this play is a dark comedy and if so why.

12-04-2006, 06:37 PM
Well, I'm not sure if I'll answer your question satisfactorily or not. "Shrew" is one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies - and these are generally not as "weighty" in terms of "serious" themes as the later ones (like The Merchant of Venice or Measure for Measure). Personally, I'm not sure I see how "Shrew" is "dark" at all.

The only way to view "Shrew" in this way is to interpret it as a chauvanistic validation of masculine power over the feminine. Many readers see Kate's submission to Petruccio as something sinister, as the "breaking" of a woman into a humiliated "puppet" of Petruccio. This interpretation is wrong for a number be reasons. Petruccio does not want a cowering wife who has no mind of her own: he wants a wife who can work with - instead of against - him. Her submission is less a surrender of her will and spirit as it is a surrender of her willfulness. Kate loses none of her attractive spirit (that which attracted Petruccio in the first place) when she "surrenders"; instead, she is able to free the inner beauty she possesses - a beauty all but obscured by her overpowering rage.

I could go on, but that may not help you. I believe that this comedy, like many of SS earliest, is more farcical and rambunctious than later comedies. There is lots of punning and slapstick humor throughout. I can't see "darkness" anywhere in the play unless one interprets it as some sort of power-play over Kate - which isn't so. It is meant to be funny because it examines one of the most common of comical themes: the battle of the sexes. But, it's more than that - in fact, I guess I should say that the play masquarades as a "battle of the sexes" but it's really the story of a man's "redemption" of the woman he loves. How can that be dark?

12-05-2006, 01:32 PM
good argument but what about kates starvation

p.s sorry about the last comment that was my friend

12-05-2006, 04:40 PM
Well, we do know from the text that Petruccio demolishes the first meal presented to her on their wedding night (after traveling home in the rain); we also know that later on Kate asks Gremio for food, claiming she is "famished" and "starved," so I suppose you could argue he's "starving" her - but the only scene where this treatment is mentioned (4.3) is a comic one - Kate's lines do not conclusively tell us shes suffering - only that she's very hungry. You could pursue your argument about starvation, but there is scant evidence to support that she's suffering in a significant way. You'd have to provide statements by her or another character that suggest that she's really suffering.

Certainly, the story has suggestions of cruelty - but imagine your average TV sitcom: many things happen there that - if they occurred in real life - would be catastrophic (the dim-witted husband who burns down the house trying to fix the Christmas lights, for example). Do you see what I mean? Comedy tends to take the serious and minimize it. The point of 4.3 is not to show how Kate is suffering from starvation, but to show that she still has the energy and ability to try and "get around" Petruccio by using his servant even despite her hunger. If she's got the energy to strike Gremio, she's probably not in any real danger. Remember that people can go for a number of days without food before succumbing to starvation. As well, we don't know if it's all food she is denied, or simply food she likes.

Hope that's helpful - I'm just hard-pressed to see the play personally as "dark" - but there are others who have posted on this play in other threads whose comments seem to suggest that they think the play is not so innocent. Perhaps you would have luck scouting those threads and contacting the posters?