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MonkeyNotes-The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Katherine/Kate

When the play begins, Katherine is perceived as a shrew. She is rude, critical, scornful, and insulting. Since no one escapes from her temper and unpleasant behavior, she is strongly disliked by everyone, including her father, who sees her as a burden. Since she feels deprived of Baptista’s affections due to his favoritism towards her younger sister, Katherine adopts her unruly behavior to gain the attention she has missed, to hide her hurt, and to seek revenge against those who torment her.

Throughout the play, other characters are thirsting to tame Katherine. First her father tries to bring her under control, but doesn’t succeed. She refuses to obey him and to be polite or respectful. In retaliation to her behavior, he ridicules and humiliates her in public, hoping to subdue her. He tries to marry her off, offering a large dowry with her, as if she were a commodity to be sold. Baptista’s scorn only makes Katherine more resentful and violent. She ties up her sister and strikes the servants. Katherine truly seems to be incorrigible, but she is really just reacting in a negative way to the hurt she feels

Since Baptista cannot positively influence Katherine’s behavior, he hopes to find a husband who can control his eldest daughter. The task is not easy, for Katherine has a wild reputation because of her ill temper. He does not care about the kind of individual she marries or if they are even compatible; he simply wants out from under the burden of her shrewishness. When Petruchio comes forward as a suitor, he does not think twice before promising Katherine to him in marriage.

When Petruchio marries Katherine, he is determined to tame her. He treats her rudely, much as she has treated other people, in order to make her see how she has been a shrew. Before long, she realizes that he is mocking her own behavior. Slowly but surely, she begins to change from her cruel and unpleasant ways. She begins to trust her husband and to realize that he cares enough for her to patiently mold her behavior. She responds by becoming kind and loving rather than striking out to hide her hurt. By the end of the play, Katherine has been transformed into an obedient and pleasant wife.


Petruchio

Petruchio is a gentleman from Verona who is intelligent and witty. At the beginning of the play, he is also portrayed as a greedy man who will do anything for money. He decides to marry Katherine for her large dowry before he has ever met her. When he hears that she is a shrew, he is not bothered. Petruchio is self-confident enough to believe he can change her.

Once he meets Katherine, he is impressed with her spirit and realizes it will take extreme measures to bring her under control. He creates a plan to tame her, much like he would tame a wild falcon. He puts his plan into action even before they are married. When she disagrees, he pretends that she agrees. When she approves of something, he tells her that it is not worthy of her. He arrives at his wedding late and dressed in ridiculous apparel. During the ceremony, he swears out loud and strikes the priest. After the ceremony, he refuses to stay for the marriage banquet.

Once Katherine is his bride, Petruchio’s treatment of her becomes even more extreme, to the point of madness. When she is tossed off her horse into the mud, he refuses to help her. He often denies her food and sleep. In her presence, he strikes the servants and complains about everything, just as she has done in the past. He teases her by cooking a delicious meal and then not letting her eat it, saying it is simply not good enough for her. He brings the tailor and the haberdasher in order to tempt his wife with clothing and then sends them both away, saying their wares are not good enough for Katherine. His extreme rudeness to Kate and to the others around him is his master plan to tame his wife by showing her how ridiculously she has acted in the past. In truth, it is a marvelous plot that he follows faithfully and patiently to bring about the desired results in his bride.

After taming Katherine’s shrewish ways, Petruchio returns to his true self -- a loving, caring, and understanding man. Although he has been cruel (but never violent) to his wife, he has done it for her own good. He knew it would take extreme measures to tame her ill temper. Wisely and patiently, Petruchio carries out his plan and reaps the results; Katherine becomes a kind, loving, and obedient wife.

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