The Taming of the Shrew Answers
Sly is a common drunkard who works as a repairman to earn a living. His life, nevertheless, takes a turn when his drunken self is abandoned on the street by a pub owner and he ends up being the butt of some noblemen’s prank. He is provided with everything which a peer should have, including a wife, and told that he is a Lord who has lost his memory. Sly resists and acts the rough character that he is which provides a contrast with the more polished and well-behaved people around him. Katherina – the character of the play which is performed for him – seems to act in a similar manner, thus, earning the title of a shrew. In an attempt to fix Katherina of her intolerable temper, her husband plays a trick on her by which she learns to become compliant. As mentioned earlier, Sly has a joke played upon him as well. The drunkard does not remain unconvinced for long, however, and tries to act the Lord the only way he can. Similarly, Katherina adapts and changes herself according to her husband’s wishes.
Living in a world where men like Petruchio – who choose a partner in life solely based on their income and a completely compliant nature – unfortunately, do exist, this man’s character hits too close to home although he has many positive qualities. It is difficult to accept him as a good man because of the way he treats Katherina but it must be remembered that she behaves around everyone badly too. Of course, he takes it all one step further but if one keeps an open mind, one must see how his tactic does seem to have an effect on Katherina and she turns into a better character. He keeps her away from food but gives the same punishment to himself as well. He does not let her sleep but then neither does he. He is never violent with her. Basically, whatever he gives her, he automatically takes it for himself too. He says he is the master and, thus, she must follow all his wishes which may prick a feminist’s mind but maybe this stance was what was needed for the good side of Katherina to come out. Of course, the reader does not know how their marriage is once the play ends. If Petruchio continued humiliating his wife even later despite her doing his bidding then he is unapproved off but that remains unknown.
At Petruchio’s bidding, Katherina makes a speech at the end of the play in which she recommends wives to show complete subservience to their husbands just the way “the subject owes the prince” (Shakespeare Act V, Scene II). She raises the men’s status to quite high a platform and makes many statements about the inability of women to live without men. She says that since a woman’s body is weak in comparison to the man’s, then surely her personality should be the same too. Her speech goes against every fiber of a modern day feminist’s being but it seems that the lady is being speaking with a tongue in cheek tone. She is just joking and putting on a show for the audience to shock them, she does not actually believe what she is saying.
Petruchio may have been realistic enough to want a wife who comes with a huge dowry and he may not have started off with loving Katerina but it is clear that by the end of the play, the two hold each other in great affection. In the Shakespearean times, what a wife wanted was inconsequential. The man could have easily married Katerina, taken over all the money and promptly commanded her to stay in the house. However, he takes the pains to bring about an improvement in her character. He may have used quite unconventional methods but he cares enough for her to make her understand that a change of her behavior would result in her receiving the respect that she deserves by the other. Of course, there is the end of the play when they kiss each other and refer to the other using terms of endearment.
Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. n.d.