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View Full Version : Taming of the Shrew: Act V



Scheherazade
03-01-2007, 12:28 PM
Please post your comments and questions on Act V here.

Scene I (http://www.online-literature.com/shakespeare/shrew/13/)

Scene II (http://www.online-literature.com/shakespeare/shrew/14/)

papayahed
03-03-2007, 09:20 PM
DOH!!!! What the heck happened? Kate making a complete turn around like that just doesn't ring true to me.

Virgil
03-03-2007, 09:35 PM
DOH!!!! What the heck happened? Kate making a complete turn around like that just doesn't ring true to me.

You didn't know the story? ;) She becomes a proper wife, worshiping her husband and serving him at his beck and call. :p :p

papayahed
03-03-2007, 09:54 PM
You didn't know the story? ;) She becomes a proper wife, worshiping her husband and serving him at his beck and call. :p :p

Must have been some wedding night.

Redzeppelin
03-06-2007, 09:51 PM
Must have been some wedding night.

Oh if only it was that easy. Are you suggesting that Kate simply needed some good sex to relax her? :)


The issue of Kate's "change" is really a key issue in whether or not this play is of value or not, whether this play is an outrage to women or not. The idea that her change doesn't "ring true" must rest on some idea as to what change occurred and why, and on what change the reader/viewer reasonably expected to see.

Why do you think she changed?

papayahed
03-08-2007, 07:24 PM
Are you suggesting that Kate simply needed some good sex to relax her? :)


Not at all.




The issue of Kate's "change" is really a key issue in whether or not this play is of value or not, whether this play is an outrage to women or not. The idea that her change doesn't "ring true" must rest on some idea as to what change occurred and why, and on what change the reader/viewer reasonably expected to see.

Why do you think she changed?

In taking the play in context of the time it was written I don't find the play to be an outrage. I would have liked to see more of how the change came about. I'm going on the idea that Petruchio convinced Kate that their marriage is a partnership where they both contribute for the betterment of both. During that time it happened to be that the woman stayed home and catered to the man (in this case it seemed more subservient ) and the man made the dough.

Bookworm4Him
03-08-2007, 08:29 PM
Think about it. She was starved for days, maybe weeks, and had no sleep whatsoever for the same amount of time, and though she was wild, she was smart, as well as having common sense. She knew that if she didn't submit, she would die. So, though she loved her freedom, I'm sure she loved living more, so she gave in...But that speech at the end? I think twas a little much... But 1) Shakespeare had to follow the "Chain of Being" (that a king is at the head, under him is the aristocrats, then the gentlemen, then the commoners, then the peasants then the slaves. Likewise, in the family was the husband, ruling the house, then the wife, then the kids, then the slaves.) T'would not be proper for Shakespeare to break that (as is shown in McBeth) plus he wouldn't make any money... :lol: We think it was strange of her to give up her freedom, b/c in our culture today, the women are on the same level as men, but back then, for her to have been like that was messed up, and plain wrong. It wasn't freedom she had, it was something so wrong she was a shrew for it.
I admit though, that when I read that, I do it in today's mindset, thinking that she shouldn't give in, though the people back then, would have been glad she gave up her foolishness and wrongdoing. It's all what the people want, if you think about it....It's a good thing Shakespeare wasn't writing for our time... :)

Janine
03-09-2007, 02:21 AM
I am really lost on this Shakespeare thread plan. I had forgotten all about it. So, could someone fill me in on the latest? Are we still discussing "Taming of the Shrew" or is there a new play for March?
Confused ~ Janine

Redzeppelin
03-09-2007, 12:03 PM
In taking the play in context of the time it was written I don't find the play to be an outrage.

I appreciate this argument, but in my mind, once we go the route of "well, during that time this was OK" I think we have essentially said "that was then, this is now." When we say such things, I interpret that to mean that the play has no relevance for us. If it tells us a "truth" that we no longer accept, how can it still speak to us?


Think about it. She was starved for days, maybe weeks, and had no sleep whatsoever for the same amount of time, and though she was wild, she was smart, as well as having common sense. She knew that if she didn't submit, she would die. So, though she loved her freedom, I'm sure she loved living more, so she gave in...

This statement requires plenty of conjecture that the play does not support. We know Petruccio trashed the wedding night feast, and that Kate was asking Grumio for some food, but there is no clear evidence she was "starved." The idea that this occurred for weeks is pure speculation because the text (like so many of Shakespeares' where time is conveniently compressed to where things happen on a convenient timeline rather than a realistic time line) does not clearly indicate how much time passes. Please provide some textual support to the assertion that fear of death motivated Kate.


But that speech at the end? I think twas a little much... But 1) Shakespeare had to follow the "Chain of Being" (that a king is at the head, under him is the aristocrats, then the gentlemen, then the commoners, then the peasants then the slaves. Likewise, in the family was the husband, ruling the house, then the wife, then the kids, then the slaves.) T'would not be proper for Shakespeare to break that (as is shown in McBeth) plus he wouldn't make any money... :lol: We think it was strange of her to give up her freedom, b/c in our culture today, the women are on the same level as men, but back then, for her to have been like that was messed up, and plain wrong. It wasn't freedom she had, it was something so wrong she was a shrew for it.
I admit though, that when I read that, I do it in today's mindset, thinking that she shouldn't give in, though the people back then, would have been glad she gave up her foolishness and wrongdoing. It's all what the people want, if you think about it....It's a good thing Shakespeare wasn't writing for our time... :)

The idea that Kate "gave up her freedom" presupposes the idea that the "freedom" she had ("freedom" to be what? An out-of-control harpy?) was worth keeping. What exactly did Kate lose? From my understanding, she lost out on being a lonely, angry, bitter woman living under her father's roof (if he decided to keep her as a burden) - never knowing the love of a man and the joy of an intimate relationship. That's worth keeping? Where, prior to Kate's change, do you see her life contain anything worth keeping? Kate was not some feminist "freedom fighter" as many readers wish to make her; she was not railing for feminine equality or freedom - she was angry - angry at the world for whatever hints the play provides. Her anger had no purpose or useful focus, other than create a gulf of isolation around her. She didn't get along with men, her father, her sister, anybody. Which part of that life is worth preserving? It's almost like feminists would be happier if Kate sacrificed any kind of fulfilling life rather than learn how to get along with someone else (primarily because that someone else is a man, and we know that our current society says that any "lowering" of a woman from "independent" to "partner" is some sort of "oppression." Hogwash.)

And I suppose that if Shakespeare had written this play with the genders reversed, the women of today would be fine with it? Why? What's the difference? How many readers would be outraged by that (apparently) more "politically correct" version of this story?

Sarasvati
03-10-2007, 09:29 AM
This statement requires plenty of conjecture that the play does not support. We know Petruccio trashed the wedding night feast, and that Kate was asking Grumio for some food, but there is no clear evidence she was "starved." The idea that this occurred for weeks is pure speculation because the text (like so many of Shakespeares' where time is conveniently compressed to where things happen on a convenient timeline rather than a realistic time line) does not clearly indicate how much time passes. Please provide some textual support to the assertion that fear of death motivated Kate.

It wasn't necessarily the "fear of death" that motivated Kate. However, for all she knew of Petruchio, things could have continued in the way they were, and if she were deprived of food for an extended period, she would obviously die.
Kate was used to getting things her way. Not only things she needed, but things she merely wanted. Baptista clearly wasn't a strong, controlling parental figure, so there was practically nothing restraining her.
Kate realized that in order to get the things she needed, and possibly the things she desired, that she would have to play whatever part Petruchio wanted her to play.
The sudden change at the end cannot be genuine based on all the things we know about Kate. She's a selfish, spoiled shrew. She did anything to get what she wanted before, and she's doing the same thing now.





The idea that Kate "gave up her freedom" presupposes the idea that the "freedom" she had ("freedom" to be what? An out-of-control harpy?) was worth keeping. What exactly did Kate lose? From my understanding, she lost out on being a lonely, angry, bitter woman living under her father's roof (if he decided to keep her as a burden) - never knowing the love of a man and the joy of an intimate relationship. That's worth keeping? Where, prior to Kate's change, do you see her life contain anything worth keeping? Kate was not some feminist "freedom fighter" as many readers wish to make her; she was not railing for feminine equality or freedom - she was angry - angry at the world for whatever hints the play provides. Her anger had no purpose or useful focus, other than create a gulf of isolation around her. She didn't get along with men, her father, her sister, anybody. Which part of that life is worth preserving? It's almost like feminists would be happier if Kate sacrificed any kind of fulfilling life rather than learn how to get along with someone else (primarily because that someone else is a man, and we know that our current society says that any "lowering" of a woman from "independent" to "partner" is some sort of "oppression." Hogwash.)

And I suppose that if Shakespeare had written this play with the genders reversed, the women of today would be fine with it? Why? What's the difference? How many readers would be outraged by that (apparently) more "politically correct" version of this story?

"Fulfilling life?" Now, kids, let's not be subjective here. We could argue for ages on what exactly was a "fulfilling life" is for Kate, or for women in general, and we wouldn't get anywhere.
Kate merely realized she had to conform to society's expectations of her, because that was what Petruchio desired. She knew that if she could keep Petruchio happy, she would get food and rest.
Perhaps she was more weak-willed than the play originally suggested; being willing to change after what seems so short a time.
Or perhaps she's more intuitive. She understands the situation that she's in, and she understands that there's no practically no way out of it, at least not a way that involves honor or life.
But your argument suggests that she changed to enjoy the "love of a man" and the "joy of an intimate relationship." Where is your textual evidence for this? Where is the implication that Kate felt any love for Petruchio or any desire for intimacy with him?
Kate was a shrew. She was selfish, and her "change" at the end stems from entirely selfish motives.

Redzeppelin
03-10-2007, 11:20 PM
Kate was used to getting things her way. Not only things she needed, but things she merely wanted. Baptista clearly wasn't a strong, controlling parental figure, so there was practically nothing restraining her.

No argument here.


Kate realized that in order to get the things she needed, and possibly the things she desired, that she would have to play whatever part Petruchio wanted her to play.

Which means that the play is not funny (because human suffering is not funny) and that the play is a tragedy (because of the "breaking" of a human being through deprivation). Why still perform this play today then? There's nothing redeeming in a story that sends this message. I do not believe that Shakespeare's comedies reveal this kind of cruelty. And I don't buy it. This line of argument works if you don't believe Petruccio and Kate were attracted to each other - that they actually may have been interested in each other.


The sudden change at the end cannot be genuine based on all the things we know about Kate. She's a selfish, spoiled shrew. She did anything to get what she wanted before, and she's doing the same thing now.

OK - and what exactly did Kate want? And how often did she get it? I don't recall that the play ever gave us any motive for Kate's rage.


"Fulfilling life?" Now, kids, let's not be subjective here. We could argue for ages on what exactly was a "fulfilling life" is for Kate, or for women in general, and we wouldn't get anywhere.

Oh, OK. I know I committed a serious social faux pas by suggesting that men and women can have fulfilling lives together. Sorry - political correctness is not my bag. I'm speaking in terms of Shakespeare's society (and ours as well). Assuming the given that Shakespeare's characters are heterosexual, I assume that people - even in Shakespeare's time - got attracted to each other, got engaged, got married. I'm also working off the logic of the comedies - that the fulfilling life for the male/female protagonists is marriage.


Kate merely realized she had to conform to society's expectations of her, because that was what Petruchio desired. She knew that if she could keep Petruchio happy, she would get food and rest.
Perhaps she was more weak-willed than the play originally suggested; being willing to change after what seems so short a time.

I disagree. I think it is wrong to try and give Kate a feminist conscience - like she's some "freedom fighter" for feminine independence. The play doesn't support that interpretation. She's enraged and her anger is out-of-control. It is she who strikes Petruccio during their first meeting. He never so much as lays a hand on her (which would have been much quicker and more efficient in terms of "taming" Kate - and tended to be employed in other pre-Shrew plays that Shakespeare used for his sources).


Or perhaps she's more intuitive. She understands the situation that she's in, and she understands that there's no practically no way out of it, at least not a way that involves honor or life.

I think you're getting warm - but I don't think she saw the situation as no-win: I think she realized that she was with a man who wanted a relationship with her, but was not willing to tolerate her out-of-control behavior like everyone else had. Her behavior was wrong. Period. She lashed out at innocent people for no good reason. How can you defend her attitude and make it sound like cooperating with her husband is such a loss?


But your argument suggests that she changed to enjoy the "love of a man" and the "joy of an intimate relationship." Where is your textual evidence for this? Where is the implication that Kate felt any love for Petruchio or any desire for intimacy with him?
Kate was a shrew. She was selfish, and her "change" at the end stems from entirely selfish motives.

Is there a chance that Kate "changed" because she realized that the life she wanted was within her ability to have, but that she had to give something up to have it - her pride? her rage? her selfishness? Is there a chance that Petruccio was the first strong man to enter her life capable of dishing out to her her own behavior, so that she could become the person she was capable of being?

Sarasvati
03-11-2007, 12:15 AM
Which means that the play is not funny (because human suffering is not funny) and that the play is a tragedy (because of the "breaking" of a human being through deprivation). Why still perform this play today then? There's nothing redeeming in a story that sends this message. I do not believe that Shakespeare's comedies reveal this kind of cruelty. And I don't buy it. This line of argument works if you don't believe Petruccio and Kate were attracted to each other - that they actually may have been interested in each other.


Your claim being that if Kate is manipulating her husband by pretending to be a Stepford wife, it can't be funny? She has to truly be a Stepford wife for the play to be funny?
I never said that Petruchio was cruel. If Kate didn't want to kill herself or escape through other means, she needed to find a way to live with him, and her way was to play the part of the nice little wifey.



OK - and what exactly did Kate want? And how often did she get it? I don't recall that the play ever gave us any motive for Kate's rage.


Kate wanted a nice wedding, food, sleep, pretty clothes. She wanted to stay at her own wedding until after the festivities... have you even read this play?

She was used to getting whatever she wanted, I believe that's implied by her short temper and shrewish nature.



Oh, OK. I know I committed a serious social faux pas by suggesting that men and women can have fulfilling lives together. Sorry - political correctness is not my bag. I'm speaking in terms of Shakespeare's society (and ours as well). Assuming the given that Shakespeare's characters are heterosexual, I assume that people - even in Shakespeare's time - got attracted to each other, got engaged, got married. I'm also working off the logic of the comedies - that the fulfilling life for the male/female protagonists is marriage.


I'm not saying that your error was claiming that "men and women can have fulfilling lives together." But there is a multitude of opinions of what kind of marriage or relationship is "fulfilling." Obviously.

You stated that, "It's almost like feminists would be happier if Kate sacrificed any kind of fulfilling life rather than learn how to get along with someone else..."

And I'm saying that Kate didn't "learn how to get along" with Petruchio. She learned how to use him to get what she wanted. Where does the play ever imply that she wanted to "get along" with him?





I disagree. I think it is wrong to try and give Kate a feminist conscience - like she's some "freedom fighter" for feminine independence. The play doesn't support that interpretation. She's enraged and her anger is out-of-control. It is she who strikes Petruccio during their first meeting. He never so much as lays a hand on her (which would have been much quicker and more efficient in terms of "taming" Kate - and tended to be employed in other pre-Shrew plays that Shakespeare used for his sources).


I never claimed that she was a "freedom fighter" for feminine independence. She realizes that she's dependent on Petruchio, so she learns how to use him. She's not a feminist. She's spoiled.

And I believe I called her "weak-willed," and your response is that I'm calling her a "freedom fighter?"

And I never claimed that Petruchio "so much as laid a hand on her."



I think you're getting warm - but I don't think she saw the situation as no-win: I think she realized that she was with a man who wanted a relationship with her, but was not willing to tolerate her out-of-control behavior like everyone else had. Her behavior was wrong. Period. She lashed out at innocent people for no good reason. How can you defend her attitude and make it sound like cooperating with her husband is such a loss?


You're welcome to think whatever you want. I have yet to find any textual evidence for "she realized that she was with a man who wanted a relationship with her." He wanted "to wive it wealthily in Padua." He wanted to marry a rich woman. His motives for tolerating her behavior, (or rather, not tolerating) were entirely selfish. When Hortensio tries to warn him of her shrewish nature, Petruchio's reply is: "thou know'st not gold's effect." So where is your evidence that he "wanted a relationship with her?"



Is there a chance that Kate "changed" because she realized that the life she wanted was within her ability to have, but that she had to give something up to have it - her pride? her rage? her selfishness? Is there a chance that Petruccio was the first strong man to enter her life capable of dishing out to her her own behavior, so that she could become the person she was capable of being?

"The life she wanted was within her ability to have."
Yes. She did realize that. So she gave up her pride, but not her selfishness. She was humbled because she was selfish. She knew she needed to become Petruchio's "tame" woman to get what she wanted.

And I believe I have already conceded your point on Petruchio being the first dominant person to actually present a challenge to her.

Virgil
03-11-2007, 12:42 AM
I take Kate's submssion in a somewhat different way. I do not really think that her will was broken as suggested here.

My take is that she learned to play the game. Take this scene from Act IV:

KATHARINA
Young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet,
Whither away, or where is thy abode?
Happy the parents of so fair a child;
Happier the man, whom favourable stars
Allot thee for his lovely bed-fellow!

PETRUCHIO
Why, how now, Kate! I hope thou art not mad:
This is a man, old, wrinkled, faded, wither'd,
And not a maiden, as thou say'st he is.

KATHARINA
Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes,
That have been so bedazzled with the sun
That everything I look on seemeth green:
Now I perceive thou art a reverend father;
Pardon, I pray thee, for my mad mistaking.
What is not really shown by the dialogue is that Kate has learned to play. Film of producton shows Kate is laughing through this at the silly jest (as suggested by Vicentio a few lines further when he calls her a "merry mistress"). Kate has learned that there are roles to play and that life is a playing out one's role as a sort of game. This is what makes the shifting roles of characters so important to the play, characters changing their identities. In public, Kate has learned that an obediant wife is the identity that is respected. And not just respected, but expected. If one doesn't provide to the world what is expected, the world will not provide back. When Petrucchio summons her in that famous closing scene, she knows the game he is playing and she plays along. When they go home in private she may curse him out, for all that we know. That's what my wife would do. Consider Act II. When Kate and Petrucchio are in private, they are fighting and bickering. When the the other characters re-enter the scene, Petrucchio puts on this false impression that everything is going smoothly.

BAPTISTA
Now, Signior Petruchio, how speed you with my daughter?

PETRUCHIO
How but well, sir? how but well?
It were impossible I should speed amiss.

BAPTISTA
Why, how now, daughter Katharina! in your dumps?

KATHARINA
Call you me daughter? now, I promise you
You have show'd a tender fatherly regard,
To wish me wed to one half lunatic;
A mad-cup ruffian and a swearing Jack,
That thinks with oaths to face the matter out.

PETRUCHIO
Father, 'tis thus: yourself and all the world,
That talk'd of her, have talk'd amiss of her:
If she be curst, it is for policy,
For she's not froward, but modest as the dove;
She is not hot, but temperate as the morn;
For patience she will prove a second Grissel,
And Roman Lucrece for her chastity:
And to conclude, we have 'greed so well together,
That upon Sunday is the wedding-day.
A complete lie, a facade. But this is what married people do. And Kate who here has not learned the game says:

KATHARINA
I'll see thee hang'd on Sunday first.

GREMIO
Hark, Petruchio; she says she'll see thee
hang'd first.

TRANIO
Is this your speeding? nay, then, good night our part!
Notice Petrucchio's very important reply:

PETRUCHIO
Be patient, gentlemen; I choose her for myself:
If she and I be pleased, what's that to you?
'Tis bargain'd 'twixt us twain, being alone,
That she shall still be curst in company.
I tell you, 'tis incredible to believe
How much she loves me: O, the kindest Kate!
She hung about my neck; and kiss on kiss
She vied so fast, protesting oath on oath,
That in a twink she won me to her love.
O, you are novices! 'tis a world to see,
How tame, when men and women are alone,
A meacock wretch can make the curstest shrew.
Give me thy hand, Kate: I will unto Venice,
To buy apparel 'gainst the wedding-day.
Provide the feast, father, and bid the guests;
I will be sure my Katharina shall be fine.

"If she and I be pleased, what's that to you?" With that he has created a wall between the public person and the private. He even draws a distinction between what is in company and what is in private. Don't intrude into my private world, he is saying. I'll tell you what it is for public consumption.

This public verses private roles that we play is what Kate learns and plays out in the final scene.

Sarasvati
03-11-2007, 12:48 AM
I take Kate's submssion in a somewhat different way. I do not really think that her will was broken as suggested here.

My take is that she learned to play the game.


I agree with that 100%.

Redzeppelin
03-11-2007, 11:48 AM
Your claim being that if Kate is manipulating her husband by pretending to be a Stepford wife, it can't be funny? She has to truly be a Stepford wife for the play to be funny?
I never said that Petruchio was cruel. If Kate didn't want to kill herself or escape through other means, she needed to find a way to live with him, and her way was to play the part of the nice little wifey.

Explain to me exactly how your vision is funny - and if not funny, how does it coincide with comedy's restoration of the social world?


Kate wanted a nice wedding, food, sleep, pretty clothes. She wanted to stay at her own wedding until after the festivities... have you even read this play?

Easy does it there - I've read and taught the play multiple times. Before you throw out a question like that, perhaps you ought to make sure you understand my question. When I asked what Kate wanted, I was not asking about her relationship with Petruccio; I was referring to her life prior to him. You spoke about Kate getting what she wanted before - I simply asked what it was you think she wanted.


She was used to getting whatever she wanted, I believe that's implied by her short temper and shrewish nature.

I agree - I think Kate is tremendously spoiled (as is Bianca). But I don't think the "spoiling" is her problem. She's angry and the spoiling may well have been Baptista's way of compensating (perhaps for the lack of a mother in Kate's life?)



I'm not saying that your error was claiming that "men and women can have fulfilling lives together." But there is a multitude of opinions of what kind of marriage or relationship is "fulfilling." Obviously.

And, since the odds are pretty good that - without Petruccio's choice to make Kate his wife - Kate would've remained single, unhappy and bitter the rest of her days. So - which of the two lives is more fulfilling?


You stated that, "It's almost like feminists would be happier if Kate sacrificed any kind of fulfilling life rather than learn how to get along with someone else..."

And I'm saying that Kate didn't "learn how to get along" with Petruchio. She learned how to use him to get what she wanted. Where does the play ever imply that she wanted to "get along" with him?

Look, I've read numerous postings on this play, and I think people tend to forget that our hyper-politically-correct society simply bridles at any depiction of a woman that does not show her firmly in control - not only of herself, but the men in her life. Period. Because of that mind-set, we tend to look at Taming as showing something really repulsive to us - but I think that that repulsion is based on our issues between genders more than what the play may very well be suggesting. My point is that the genders are secondary to what is going on. The play is not about a man subjugating a woman - it's about a strong human being helping an out-of-control human being learn to participate in the give and take of a relationship. Kate was out-of-control. If you have ever worked with out-of-control people before (as I have) you learn that sometimes they need some "tough love" to help them break out of the behaviors that are often so powerful in their lives that they need help getting free of them. I'm suggesting that Kate discovered that relationship involves compromise - and that's what Petruccio wanted - he didn't want a stepford wife - a man of Petruccio's robust character would not want that - he'd want a wife with fire and spirit - but one who understood that she can't just thrash the world around her.



You're welcome to think whatever you want. I have yet to find any textual evidence for "she realized that she was with a man who wanted a relationship with her." He wanted "to wive it wealthily in Padua." He wanted to marry a rich woman. His motives for tolerating her behavior, (or rather, not tolerating) were entirely selfish. When Hortensio tries to warn him of her shrewish nature, Petruchio's reply is: "thou know'st not gold's effect." So where is your evidence that he "wanted a relationship with her?"

What a man says among other men may or may not speak to a man's true feelings. Remember that only in soliloquy do characters speak with 100% honesty in Shakespeare. And, even if Petruccio only was interested in money, please don't tell me that Kate was the only woman in Padua with a decent dowery. Please don't tell me that Petruccio - after the first meeting with Kate - could not have decided "Nah - no amount of money is worth that." Petruccio had no guarantee that his methods would have worked. I think most men want a peaceful home. We can handle stress and strife in the work world, but when we come home we like things peaceful. Furthermore, if all Petruccio wanted was money, why bother to get Kate to behave at all? He could have simply ignored her and patronized prostitutes or gotten a mistress. He could have relegated her to "cleaning woman" and ignored her. He did not. He invested effort to draw her into relationship with him. Furthermore, I suggest that after Petruccio met Kate, that he liked not only her looks, but her spirit as well. I think he saw beneath the behavior and saw a woman he liked. And, assuming that Petruccio was a handsome man, why wouldn't Kate be flattered that an attractive man - one who did not scorn her or return her venom - was interested in her? She tried to insult him during their first meeting and he kept turning her venom around on her into playful sexual banter. Which part of that sounds like a money-hungry mercenary?



Yes. She did realize that. So she gave up her pride, but not her selfishness. She was humbled because she was selfish. She knew she needed to become Petruchio's "tame" woman to get what she wanted.

And that's where I ask again - what did she want? I think she wanted a relationship, but, like an angry child, she was unable to participate in one because she was enslaved to her rage. Petruccio wanted Kate to join him - not serve him. To say that Kate compromised to manipulate Petruccio says something ugly about her and women in general. Out-of-control people need strong people to help them - Kate needed Petruccio's help. My vision sees Petruccio doing what men who love their women do - he rescued her from herself.

Ultimately, I think Virgil said it better anyway.

papayahed
03-11-2007, 12:31 PM
I appreciate this argument, but in my mind, once we go the route of "well, during that time this was OK" I think we have essentially said "that was then, this is now." When we say such things, I interpret that to mean that the play has no relevance for us. If it tells us a "truth" that we no longer accept, how can it still speak to us?



I believe there is a differnce between how the message is delivered and what the message is...For example, if we say the play is about finding happiness and finding one's place in society that translates across time however Kate's supposed subjugation and complete turn around isn't relevent today, no woman (probably) would go see that play.

I have to agree with Virgie that what we see in public is probably different than their private life.

Sarasvati
03-11-2007, 01:33 PM
Explain to me exactly how your vision is funny - and if not funny, how does it coincide with comedy's restoration of the social world?



Easy does it there - I've read and taught the play multiple times. Before you throw out a question like that, perhaps you ought to make sure you understand my question. When I asked what Kate wanted, I was not asking about her relationship with Petruccio; I was referring to her life prior to him. You spoke about Kate getting what she wanted before - I simply asked what it was you think she wanted.


Obviously you've read the play; it wasn't my intention to offend you. And I think Kate wanted to be in some kind of control over her own life.





And, since the odds are pretty good that - without Petruccio's choice to make Kate his wife - Kate would've remained single, unhappy and bitter the rest of her days. So - which of the two lives is more fulfilling?


Well, when you put it that way...

No, I think Kate made her own life fulfilling. She's playing the part of the domesticated wife to get some peace. She's swallowing her pride for her own selfish reasons.





Look, I've read numerous postings on this play, and I think people tend to forget that our hyper-politically-correct society simply bridles at any depiction of a woman that does not show her firmly in control - not only of herself, but the men in her life. Period. Because of that mind-set, we tend to look at Taming as showing something really repulsive to us - but I think that that repulsion is based on our issues between genders more than what the play may very well be suggesting. My point is that the genders are secondary to what is going on. The play is not about a man subjugating a woman - it's about a strong human being helping an out-of-control human being learn to participate in the give and take of a relationship. Kate was out-of-control. If you have ever worked with out-of-control people before (as I have) you learn that sometimes they need some "tough love" to help them break out of the behaviors that are often so powerful in their lives that they need help getting free of them. I'm suggesting that Kate discovered that relationship involves compromise - and that's what Petruccio wanted - he didn't want a stepford wife - a man of Petruccio's robust character would not want that - he'd want a wife with fire and spirit - but one who understood that she can't just thrash the world around her.


When anyone is in control of anyone else, it's wrong. Man or woman.

Does the Kate at the end of the play imply she's a woman of fire and spirit? I think the only way she could be construed as still having "fire and spirit" is if she's just playing the part of a "tamed woman" to still claim control over her own life.





And, even if Petruccio only was interested in money, please don't tell me that Kate was the only woman in Padua with a decent dowery. Please don't tell me that Petruccio - after the first meeting with Kate - could not have decided "Nah - no amount of money is worth that." Petruccio had no guarantee that his methods would have worked. I think most men want a peaceful home. We can handle stress and strife in the work world, but when we come home we like things peaceful. Furthermore, if all Petruccio wanted was money, why bother to get Kate to behave at all? He could have simply ignored her and patronized prostitutes or gotten a mistress. He could have relegated her to "cleaning woman" and ignored her. He did not. He invested effort to draw her into relationship with him. Furthermore, I suggest that after Petruccio met Kate, that he liked not only her looks, but her spirit as well. I think he saw beneath the behavior and saw a woman he liked. And, assuming that Petruccio was a handsome man, why wouldn't Kate be flattered that an attractive man - one who did not scorn her or return her venom - was interested in her? She tried to insult him during their first meeting and he kept turning her venom around on her into playful sexual banter. Which part of that sounds like a money-hungry mercenary?


Nicely done! :)

"Petruccio had no guarantee that his methods would have worked. I think most men want a peaceful home."

"Furthermore, if all Petruccio wanted was money, why bother to get Kate to behave at all?"

I think Petruchio was arrogant enough to believe his methods were infallible. And perhaps he did enjoy the fact that she had a "spirt as well," so that he could feed his ego by destroying it.





And that's where I ask again - what did she want? I think she wanted a relationship, but, like an angry child, she was unable to participate in one because she was enslaved to her rage. Petruccio wanted Kate to join him - not serve him. To say that Kate compromised to manipulate Petruccio says something ugly about her and women in general. Out-of-control people need strong people to help them - Kate needed Petruccio's help. My vision sees Petruccio doing what men who love their women do - he rescued her from herself.

Ultimately, I think Virgil said it better anyway.

I think Kate wanted to be in control of her own life. And as that's nearly impossible in her time, at least to be able to claim as much power in her life as she can. The only way to do that with Petruchio was to play a role.

"To say that Kate compromised to manipulate Petruccio says something ugly about her and women in general."

And to have Petruchio simply force her to submit says nothing ugly about him and men in general?

No matter how much Kate tried, there was no way she was going to overpower Petruchio. Not in that society. Why is it ugly to believe that Kate claimed control of her own life in the only way she could?

papayahed
03-11-2007, 02:35 PM
So here's my question, knowing Kate's behavior does anybody think that if she truely did not want to marry Petruchio she would have gone through with it? She ruled the household, why in this one area would she do what her father told her?

Virgil
03-11-2007, 09:00 PM
And, since the odds are pretty good that - without Petruccio's choice to make Kate his wife - Kate would've remained single, unhappy and bitter the rest of her days. So - which of the two lives is more fulfilling?

This touches on the feminist objections to the play. I'n not going to deny there is a masculine centrality to the play, but let's put it in perspective. Two out of the three women at the end of the play are free to buck their husbands authoritativeness. Kate doesn't which makes it a story. By all expectations Kate should not have too. So by the general expectations all three were free to tell their husbands to shove it.


And, even if Petruccio only was interested in money, please don't tell me that Kate was the only woman in Padua with a decent dowery. Please don't tell me that Petruccio - after the first meeting with Kate - could not have decided "Nah - no amount of money is worth that." Petruccio had no guarantee that his methods would have worked. I think most men want a peaceful home. We can handle stress and strife in the work world, but when we come home we like things peaceful. Furthermore, if all Petruccio wanted was money, why bother to get Kate to behave at all? He could have simply ignored her and patronized prostitutes or gotten a mistress. He could have relegated her to "cleaning woman" and ignored her. He did not. He invested effort to draw her into relationship with him. Furthermore, I suggest that after Petruccio met Kate, that he liked not only her looks, but her spirit as well. I think he saw beneath the behavior and saw a woman he liked. And, assuming that Petruccio was a handsome man, why wouldn't Kate be flattered that an attractive man - one who did not scorn her or return her venom - was interested in her? She tried to insult him during their first meeting and he kept turning her venom around on her into playful sexual banter. Which part of that sounds like a money-hungry mercenary?
Good points. I never considered that.


And that's where I ask again - what did she want? I think she wanted a relationship, but, like an angry child, she was unable to participate in one because she was enslaved to her rage. Petruccio wanted Kate to join him - not serve him. To say that Kate compromised to manipulate Petruccio says something ugly about her and women in general. Out-of-control people need strong people to help them - Kate needed Petruccio's help. My vision sees Petruccio doing what men who love their women do - he rescued her from herself.
Yes, I agree. People seem to project what Petrucchio does to Kate as applying to all men and all women. The name of the play is "The Taming Of The Shrew," not The Taming of Women. Petrucchio does not even start out to humble Kate. That is actually plan B. He starts out to woo her in the traditional manner. In that Act II before Kate has entered and while Petrucchio is alone he says in soliloquy:

PETRUCHIO
I pray you do.

Exeunt all but PETRUCHIO

I will attend her here,
And woo her with some spirit when she comes.
Say that she rail; why then I'll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale:
Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morning roses newly wash'd with dew:
Say she be mute and will not speak a word;
Then I'll commend her volubility,
And say she uttereth piercing eloquence:
If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks,
As though she bid me stay by her a week:
If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day
When I shall ask the banns and when be married.
But here she comes; and now, Petruchio, speak.

Enter KATHARINA

Good morrow, Kate; for that's your name, I hear.
He's actually going to put her on a pedalstal. And she replies:

KATHARINA
Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing:
They call me Katharina that do talk of me.
:lol: And so on. So much for plan A.


Ultimately, I think Virgil said it better anyway.
Oh you're too kind. Everyone has made some great points here. This has turned into a fine discussion. :)

Virgil
03-11-2007, 09:15 PM
I think Kate wanted to be in control of her own life. And as that's nearly impossible in her time, at least to be able to claim as much power in her life as she can. The only way to do that with Petruchio was to play a role.


But where's the evidence for that? I think how we interpret her rage is how we formulate our understanding of the entire play. You seem to think that her rage is due to inequality for women. I can't imagine Shakespeare was thinking this. And I don't see the evidence for it. Why then would Kate capitulate after she's been subjected to more inequality as a wife. We had a discussion of her rage when we discussed Act II: http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21793. I believe it is because she has been forced to be second fiddle to her younger sister. Remember, Kate drags her sister in one scene with ropes and vows revenge.

Virgil
03-11-2007, 09:21 PM
So here's my question, knowing Kate's behavior does anybody think that if she truely did not want to marry Petruchio she would have gone through with it? She ruled the household, why in this one area would she do what her father told her?

Good point. I think she did want to marry him. But I think she also wanted to be loved. Although the text doesn't say it anywhere, perhaps she was appalled at the dowry arrangement. There we go. Kate is really a feminist heroine!! :D ;)

Redzeppelin
03-12-2007, 12:01 AM
Obviously you've read the play; it wasn't my intention to offend you. And I think Kate wanted to be in some kind of control over her own life.

No harm, no foul. :)

I guess the problem I have with the idea that Kate wanted to "control her own life" is that I'm not certain that women of Shakespeare's time actually thought in this manner. Culturally, wouldn't it be some kind of anomalie to want independent self-control? Did the female mind-set of the 16th century actually think this way? This is where I think our "cultural filter" kicks into high gear, and it is the basis of my "feminist" comments; I think 20th century readers imprint upon the image of an angry woman the status as "rebel with a cause" against "male control" when women of Shakespeare's time more than likely saw marriage as desirable; women did not want to be spinsters in Shakespeare's time - such a status was the equivalent of a social death. Remember Lord Capulet's threat to disown Juliet? The idea terrified her - without a husband, disowned by her father - her only choice would be prostitution of to live off some other relative. I don't think Kate wanted "control" of her own life because that's not realistic for a 16th century woman. I think she wanted what all women who get married want: to be loved and respected by her husband.



No, I think Kate made her own life fulfilling. She's playing the part of the domesticated wife to get some peace. She's swallowing her pride for her own selfish reasons.

I think this depends upon what "fulfills" Kate. I think Kate has desired "peace" in her life, but she had to learn how to achieve it. When faced with a man with as much spirit, energy and natural stubborness as her, she realized that he would continue to dish out reciprocal treatment to her. I think Kate was intelligent enough to realize that Petruccio was simply waiting to see if she would put down her contentious pride long enough to show him that she was willing to see things his way. Once she did so (which I believe Petruccio saw as Kate being willing to trust him - trust that he would not take advantage unfairly of her vulnerability in giving him the "power"); once she did that, I think something changed in their relationship - changed enough to where he was willing to bet lots of money and his reputation at a public gathering in the faithful ness of his wife.



When anyone is in control of anyone else, it's wrong. Man or woman.

He does not "control" her. She could have continued being contentious and simply dealt with the consequences. She didn't have to go to her father's house for her sister's wedding. Kate always had choices.


Does the Kate at the end of the play imply she's a woman of fire and spirit? I think the only way she could be construed as still having "fire and spirit" is if she's just playing the part of a "tamed woman" to still claim control over her own life.

Petruccio has her bring in the other women and lecture them. Granted, you could, as director play this scene with Kate a whipped woman, but that to me makes the play a tragedy instead of a comedy. Besides, since the other two women showed defiance to their husbands, I might assume that a "whipped woman" would not easily have muscled the other two into the room. The irony is that Kate becomes "freer" when she "submits" to Petruccio - because she is free to deal with life without the persona of her rage.


I think Petruchio was arrogant enough to believe his methods were infallible. And perhaps he did enjoy the fact that she had a "spirt as well," so that he could feed his ego by destroying it.

Arrogant? Perhaps - but maybe such a man is needed in a marriage with a fiery woman like Kate. Again - aside from the "taming" - does Petruccio really strike you as a man who desires to crush a woman's spirit? Do you really think he'd enjoy a doormat for a wife? Wouldn't such a wife just bore him to death? I think he wanted a partner, not a slave. Men who thrive on destroying women's egos don't really like women. And again - physical abuse would accomplish this much quicker than the methods he used (which, by the way, involved lots of compliments).



I think Kate wanted to be in control of her own life. And as that's nearly impossible in her time, at least to be able to claim as much power in her life as she can. The only way to do that with Petruchio was to play a role.

Addressed already above.


And to have Petruchio simply force her to submit says nothing ugly about him and men in general?

"Forced" implies no choice: where did you see that Kate didn't have a choice?



No matter how much Kate tried, there was no way she was going to overpower Petruchio. Not in that society. Why is it ugly to believe that Kate claimed control of her own life in the only way she could?

If Kate were held prisoner by a bad man, we'd applaud his charging through obstacles to rescue her; is it so unreasonable to consider that maybe he rescued her from the formidable obstacles of her rage and her own false identity - an identity that she had assumed, but wasn't really hers? The play is very much about "assumed" identities (like Christopher Sly in the induction); I think Kate learned her attitude problem as a coping mechanism (sorry Virg, I'm heading into psychobabble land a bit); I think Petruccio was man enough to help "break" her out of her self-made prison of anger. In the comedies, Shakespeare generally links strong men with strong women - name a comedy where he pairs strong women with weak men and vice versa. I truly think that this play is a love story - one very touching to me, because I see it as a story about a man who loved a woman enough to wade into her fearsome rage to free her into a life with a man who wanted what she had to offer - because the angry, enraged Kate isn't the real Kate - that's a "Kate" that Kate learned, but one that ultimately would hurt her and make her miserable.

xman
04-01-2007, 02:00 PM
Well, you've covered the basic issue of the troubled ending of this play and there's little more for me to add on all that 'misogyny' stuff except that I concur at large with Redzeppelin. Shakespeare just doesn't give us hidden messages and we should accept what he wrote for face value no matter how we may disagree with it.

As a final note. It does not need to be funny. It is a comedy because they get married, not because there's good jokes, although they do end to follow one another.

X

JBI
04-10-2007, 09:21 PM
I would say first of all, it is a comedy because of the characters. Kate not being submissive leads to funny dialogue, which creates a comic feel to the play. The ending is meant to show us how Petruchio and Kate finally come to an agreement, and can function. Kate ends up seeing the relationship clearly after the scene when the real father comes to see his son. At the end of that scene, Kate looks from a different perspective at her new husband, and finally decides that a) if she wants the relationship to work, she will need to meet him eye to eye, and b) that she cares for him. The second I think can be gathered from the way she acts in public after that scene, and the lightening up of her attitude.

The first point is a little more difficult to prove. I think from this, Kate finally realizes that for her to get what she wants out of life, (from the first few scenes, particularly when she is fighting with her sister, we see that she is quite selfish, jealous, and spoiled) she will have to make some compromises. She realizes after the scene where they finally start to appreciate each other that to do this, she will need to stop being such a Shrew, and do what is best for her husband, in turn doing what is best for herself. During the contest at the end, she knows her husband is up to something, and realizes that it will be to his advantage to go to him. She goes, and delivers that whole speech by the simple fact that she sees her relationship with her husband as a contract. He will try to please her, if she stops being so unpleasable. Thereby, she lowers her expectations, and accepts that she has a husband who cares for her, and that only wishes to make her happy, and in order to do that, she must be willing to help him.

Redzeppelin
04-10-2007, 09:46 PM
I would say first of all, it is a comedy because of the characters. Kate not being submissive leads to funny dialogue, which creates a comic feel to the play. The ending is meant to show us how Petruchio and Kate finally come to an agreement, and can function. Kate ends up seeing the relationship clearly after the scene when the real father comes to see his son. At the end of that scene, Kate looks from a different perspective at her new husband, and finally decides that a) if she wants the relationship to work, she will need to meet him eye to eye, and b) that she cares for him. The second I think can be gathered from the way she acts in public after that scene, and the lightening up of her attitude.

The first point is a little more difficult to prove. I think from this, Kate finally realizes that for her to get what she wants out of life, (from the first few scenes, particularly when she is fighting with her sister, we see that she is quite selfish, jealous, and spoiled) she will have to make some compromises. She realizes after the scene where they finally start to appreciate each other that to do this, she will need to stop being such a Shrew, and do what is best for her husband, in turn doing what is best for herself. During the contest at the end, she knows her husband is up to something, and realizes that it will be to his advantage to go to him. She goes, and delivers that whole speech by the simple fact that she sees her relationship with her husband as a contract. He will try to please her, if she stops being so unpleasable. Thereby, she lowers her expectations, and accepts that she has a husband who cares for her, and that only wishes to make her happy, and in order to do that, she must be willing to help him.

Well said - and I agree. I think people tend to get outraged at this play because we've become hypersensitive to any display in our culture of a man coming across as more "in control" than a woman; society has perpetuated the sorry stereotype that men are clueless cavemen who need the refining touch of a woman. While that is - to a degree - true, it ought not be carried to an extreme (like we see in TV sitcom land, where male figures are pretty much illiterate idiots who are incapable of doing anything without their wife taking control); this is feminism out-of-control. "Taming" offers us a look at the complemetary nature of relationships, and Kate's final speech shows that; feminists get all bent because of Kate's speech, but her speech (which mirrors, to a degree, Paul's words in Ephesians Ch. 5) lays out the duties of both genders. The truth is, good men are anxious to please, to protect, to give to a woman who understands that men enjoy leading and feeling like we're important to a woman. Kate's speech shows that she realizes her true power is in being more feminine - doing so brings out her husband's masculinity - his natural desire to protect his mate and keep her happy. How is Kate losing in that transaction?

kasie
04-23-2008, 07:14 AM
I found this discussion (and the Forum) - by googling The Taming of the Shrew because I am going to see a production of this play at Stratford next month with some friends and I just KNOW there are going to be more than a few snide comments about the Kate's speech from my friend's husband so I wanted to do some background study to be prepared. Thank you to everyone who has contributed - I am now well-armed!

I was interested in the line of discussion which suggested that, viewed in a certain light, the play almost turns into a tragedy. The last production of the Shrew that I saw was also at Stratford a couple of years ago, given by an all-male company, Propellor - they are a British company but have toured the world, so if you get the chance to see them, please do, they are very good. I thought that an all-male production would add an air of authenticity (the female parts in Shakespeare's day being taken by boys) but these were grown men and their pre-production thought and discussion was evident in their presentation. Their take on Kate was that she was 'out of joint' - she was dressed as a 'punk' (did Punk Rock hit other parts of the world beside Britain? I can't remember!), she was graceless, angry, awkward and very unhappy because Daddy (and everyone else) clearly preferred dainty, 'girly' Bianca. The scenes between her and Petruchio were played as a battle of equally strong-willed people, Petruchio winning by main force (all the more underlined because these were two men in conflict.) The wedding night scenes were played as slapstick comedy but with a hint of actual violence beneath the horseplay. Kate's lovely wedding dress became more tattered as the action progressed and by the time she has been traipsed back home to Daddy, was in filthy shreds - Kate, it suggests, gives in through sheer exhaustion. The final speech was delivered blank-eyed, direct to audience, in a monotone - this was a brain-washed lady, on the point of collapse, and the play teetered dangerously close to tragedy. The audience which had previously been rolling with laughter at Petruchio's antics was reduced to silence - you could have heard a pin drop. I'm looking forward to seeing a different take on the play.

Mumpsimus
11-06-2009, 06:53 PM
Hello all, I am new and impressed by the quality of the discussions. It seems to me that Behavioural Sciences are used, even at this time, to control the behaviour of Kate. At the time, she probably had to submit for the sake of the greater good. In our own times, we've seen female media figures such as Ripley, possibly the greatest 'heroine' of modern times, being replaced by lippy non-entities such as Jessica Alba, to appease social anxieties about women. The conversion of Kate is too much of a sigh of relief perhaps?