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Thread: The Taming of the Shrew: Act I

  1. #16
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    These are interesting comments in light of Shakespeare's own marriage - believed to be rocky at best by his biographers. As well, the #1 rival for Shakespeare's identity (Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford) also had a rocky and distanced relationship from his wife.
    I wasn't aware we had information on Shakespeare's relationship with his wife. From what do we know it was rocky? Is it just trying to read between the lines or is there anything tangible? He did get her pregnant before marriage, so I imagine it might have been somewhat of a forced thing.

    As to how it relates to the play, perhaps then his relationship gave him insight. Or perhaps he views himself as Katherina. Or perhaps Katherina is a wish for what he wanted his wife to be. Psychobabble I know, but we all do this.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  2. #17
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    I wasn't aware we had information on Shakespeare's relationship with his wife. From what do we know it was rocky? Is it just trying to read between the lines or is there anything tangible? He did get her pregnant before marriage, so I imagine it might have been somewhat of a forced thing.

    As to how it relates to the play, perhaps then his relationship gave him insight. Or perhaps he views himself as Katherina. Or perhaps Katherina is a wish for what he wanted his wife to be. Psychobabble I know, but we all do this.
    Some scholars speculate that the evidence was that Shakespeare left Stratford while still young and did not return there until he retired from the theater - not evidence of one who is particularly fond of his wife. As well, other commentators point to the rather odd bequeathment of the "second best bed" to his wife, with no other commentary whatsoever. The "dark lady" sonnets in the last half of the sonnets seem to suggest to some commentators an extramarital affair. I think the idea of Shakespeare's less-than-idea marriage (does an ideal on exist?) comes more from the lack of evidence to show that he was involved in a meaningful way with his wife. Either way, Shakespeare's work certainly shows a good deal of male-female quibbling and arguing.
    "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

  3. #18
    thinman(mr. jones)
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    The Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses has some interesting ideas about Shakespeare's marriage. Ties into several of the other plays culminating with The Tempest (fittingly).

  4. #19
    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    I'll come out with this early. I think that the greater knowledge that Shakespeare believes in, more important than whatever is taught at the university or by philosophy, is that to reach an accomadation, between husband and wife, and perhaps we can project that on to all society, is the greatest knowledge to be gained. By accomodation, I mean a working relationship where bitter fighting is held in check.
    I'll have to finish the book before I comment. I still can't see how book learning is coming into play here, perhaps in later acts.
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  5. #20
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    Hi all, just dropping by, since I saw you'd gotten a discussion going here. I may be in and out of the discussion as my work allows. I'm interested that Virgil brought out learning as a theme in the play. Teaching and learning of different kinds are certainly a thread running throughout the play. Virg. has already brought out Lucentio's opening speech. I'd also like to quote Tranio's response to him:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Bard
    Mi perdonato, gentle master mine,
    I am in all affected as yourself;
    Glad that you thus continue your resolve
    To suck the sweets of sweet philosophy.
    Only, good master, while we do admire
    This virtue and this moral discipline,
    Let's be no stoics nor no stocks, I pray;
    Or so devote to Aristotle's cheques
    As Ovid be an outcast quite abjured:
    Balk logic with acquaintance that you have
    And practise rhetoric in your common talk;
    Music and poesy use to quicken you;
    The mathematics and the metaphysics,
    Fall to them as you find your stomach serves you;
    No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en:
    In brief, sir, study what you most affect.
    Ovid was well known in the Renaissance as the poet of amorous and even liscentious love, so the reference to Ovid for a Renaissance audience would have clearly indicated that Tranio wants to encourage his master to learn about love as a counter to the stiff logic and rhetoric of the stoics and Aristotle. Because the poetic culture of the Renaissance was so deeply interested in imitating the classical past through study, this tension between book learning and learning in love was a very common theme among the poets in this period, particularly those of the 1580's and 90's. In Phillip Sidney's opening sonnets to Astrophil and Stella for example, he contrasts the unfeeling learned rhetoric of poets who copy what they read in books with his own poetry, learned from the face of his beloved. Marlow's play, Doctor Faustus is another example of a work in the Renaissance that was deeply interested in the relation between book learning and experience in life. So, I think Shakespeare's opening to Taming of the Shrew is very typical of the sort of interest in the relation between book learning and experience in the poetry and drama of this time.

    The opening scene does set up a contrast between book learning and learning by experience in love, but it also makes book learning the path to amorous learning, since it is by becoming Bianca's tutor and schooling her mind, that Lucentio intends to win her heart. This, of course, parallels the way Petruchio will become Kate's teacher in the main plot as well. This business about Lucentio becoming Bianca's tutor also clearly imitates stories from the past, especially that of Paolo and Francesca from Dante's Inferno, in which the two fall in love while reading together. I'm not certain I'd say that there's so much a contrast between book learning and learning from experience in this opening act (though that is there to a certain extent), as there is a question of what type of learning should be brought out of books (love stories and Ovidian themes, rather than logic and philosophy), and a question of how to apply this learning and integrate it into the business of life. How can the study of "what you most affect" in books lead to acheiving affection in life? I think there's an underlying statement here about the way that reading and learning should be an act of connecting the life of one time to the life of another rather an act of the sententious past stifling the life of the present. I'm not saying this is the central statment of the play, but I think it is prominent in the subplot between Lucentio and Bianca, which in turn ties in to the instructional relationship that develops between Petrucchio and Kate.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

  6. #21
    Shakespearean xman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    ... It could be that Grumio is "dense," but I don't wonder if this isn't a little game the two play. Petruchio is clearly a man with a sense of humor - I think his servant knows this - or else he's "dense" and that's part of the comedy. ...
    I think it's much more dramatically interesting if Grumio is played as a savy servant who challenges his master and Peruchio as a competitive (albeit a confrontational) spirit who wouldn't have it any other way. I'd have to reread the play to ensure that Grumio's character would support this interpretation, but I wouldn't be surprised that it does, given Shakespeare's penchant for savant servants.

    X
    Last edited by xman; 04-01-2007 at 12:48 PM.
    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams

  7. #22
    Shakespearean xman's Avatar
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    I just want toi take a moment at the end of this, the first play read and only one I've missed to say thanks to those who started the idea and all who participate. You guys are awesome!

    X
    Last edited by xman; 04-02-2007 at 01:23 PM.
    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams

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