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Thread: Taming of the Shrew: Act V

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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.
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post

    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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?

  3. #18
    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    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?
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  4. #19
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redzeppelin View Post
    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.
    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.
    Last edited by Virgil; 03-12-2007 at 07:32 AM.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  5. #20
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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/for...ad.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.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  6. #21
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papayahed View Post
    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!!
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  7. #22
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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).


    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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?


    Quote Originally Posted by Sarasvati View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Redzeppelin; 03-12-2007 at 12:07 AM.
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  8. #23
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    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.

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  9. #24
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    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.

  10. #25
    Cur etiam hic es? Redzeppelin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    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?
    "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

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    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.

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    Behavioural Science

    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?

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