title = To Tame A Shrewpapers = To Tame A ShreworWhyDoes She Have To Be So Difficult!In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew,one topic that has been debated, interpreted, discussed, reinterpreted andadapted into different forms has been the character of Katharina, the shrew,and whether she was tamed, liberated, or just a good enough actress to makeeveryone think she was in fact, tamed. In this essay, I will present argumentsfor and against each of these points, as well as discuss one television adaptationof Taming of the Shrew that presents Katharina not as the expected shrew, butas Petruchio’s tamer. Katharina: The Whipped ShrewThere is evidencethat supports Katharina was tamed by Petruchio. For instance, in the openingof the play, Katharina is very vocal and aggressive.
Men, women and childrentrembled whenever she came around, including her father and sister. By theend of the play, however, she is presented as being mild and submissive toPetruchio, leading up to her greatest speech in the dialogue of the play:Thyhusband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,Thy head, thy sovereign; onethat cares for thee,And for thy maintenance commits his bodyTo painfullabour both by sea and land,To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,Whilstthou liest warm at home, secure and safe;And craves no other tribute atthy handsBut love, fair looks and true obedience;Too little paymentfor so great a debt. (5. 2. 146-154)In looking at this outtake of Katharina’sspeech, it can be seen that she has been tamed by Petruchio’s actions throughoutthe first four acts.
It is difficult to take Katharina’s message here andsay, “She is still the same person. ” Her monologue reveals that she now seesit is her duty to respect her husband and to be submissive to him. Her speechleads the audience to see that this duty of the wife is one that is a repaymentto the husband for all the hard work he does to support her, a debt that thewife could never possibly repay. Reasons why Katharina might not have beentamed can be found in the fact that the play takes place in what seems to bejust a few days. One must ask the question: Is it possible to cause such agreat change in a person’s behavior in such a short amount of time as this?It is very unlikely that it is possible, since Katharina, by the opening ofthe play, is at least 20 years of age and is very much set into her ways.
It would take much longer to cure Katharina of this attitude problem she possesses. With this in mind, it is very likely that Katharina was either liberated byPetruchio in how to control her temper, or she acted as if she had been tamedto get everyone off of her back. Katharina: The Liberated ShrewSinceit is not possible for Katharina to have been tamed by Petruchio in the shorttime period of the play, it is possible that she was liberated by Petruchio’sactions. In the movie version of Taming of the Shrew, starring Elizabeth Tayloras Katharina and Richard Burton as Petruchio, the ending sequence is presentedwith the widow and Bianca refusing to come out at their suitor’s request.
Petruchio then sends for Katharina, and with the expressions on everyone’sface, it can be assumed they weren’t expecting her to come out either. Instead,Katharina does come out, with Bianca under one arm and the widow under theother. It was at this point she delivered her speech quoted above. Now,if she was tamed, it is doubtful she would have come out with the other womenin her grips. It is more likely she would have come out alone, saying somethingalong the lines of “Yes, my darling Petruchio, what can I do for thee?” Instead,she forces the other women to be obedient to their spouses, still showing someof the fearful aggressiveness at the beginning of the play. I see this asevidence that Petruchio has liberated Katharina in a sense that she no longerneeds to be brash and aggressive at all times, but more she can use her assertivenessfor her husband’s advantage, and more importantly for her own advantage, aswhen dragging in the two women.
In other words, together, they made a greatteam with Petruchio’s great wit and ability to play word games at the dropof a hat and Katharina’s strong will and stubbornness. I find that they nolonger use these on each other, except for amusement, but to influence andgain stature and control to those around them. Katharina: The Acting ShrewInthe performance done by the Sanderson High School for last year’s State UILOne-Act Play, they chose to do scenes from Taming of the Shrew. This interpretationof the play was an interesting one compared to the other interpretations Ihad seen before. Instead of presenting Katharina as being tamed at worst (Isay tamed at worst because if Katharina was tamed, she would have truly lostmost of her spirit) or liberated at best, Karina Mendoza portrayed Katharinaas being an actress pretending to be tamed. In the scene where Katharinaand Petruchio are returning to Padua for Bianca’s wedding, they are shown arguingalong the road, as to whether the globe in the sky was the sun or the moon.
Instead of realizing Petruchio was trying to free her from her anger and joinhim in his witty word-play, and instead of giving up everything to allow Petruchioto have full dominion over her, Katharina pretends to go along with him andstarts agreeing with everything he says. What Petruchio doesn’t see is thatwhen Katharina turns away and faces the audience, she rolls her eyes at him,revealing that even though it appears she has conceded to him, she still retainsher personality. What also aids in this view is that when Katharina and Petruchioarrive in Padua, after Katharina gives the above speech, Petruchio scoops herinto his arms and carries her into the church, all the men applauding him. It is at this point Katharina looks out to the audience and gives the crowda knowing wink and signs the word for “Okay,” as if she is the one who gothim instead of the other way around. I find this evidence plausible as well,since it is difficult to see Katharina willing to give in to Petruchio andfind a middle ground with him, even if their aggressive nature is so much alike. After all, if Katharina is just acting as if she were tamed, then it is likelyshe would still have her shrewish attitude.
If this is the case, then Petruchiois in for a big downfall when she decides to remove her disguise and unleashherself upon her unsuspecting husband. Katharina: The Tamer of the ShrewSofar, all the examples I have given have presented Katharina as the tamed, liberatedor acting shrew. I would like to present a different view of Katharina assomething other than the one being tamed, and look at a modern interpretationthat displays her as the tamer. I recently had an opportunity to see a recordingof the 80’s television comedy Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and CybillShepherd.
In this show, a special was done on a revision of Taming of theShrew with Willis’ character as Petruchio and Shepherd’s as Katharina. Forthe first part, this version follows the original Shakespeare text, with someliberties taken by the writers of the show, showing some tongue-in-cheek humor- Petruchio rides in on a horse with both of them wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses,the saddle has the logo for BMW on the side, and Katharina has a closet fullof “cheap” vases to throw at her suitors. But, as the comedy progresses, aninteresting twist is given – beginning when Petruchio and Katharina returnto Padua for the wedding of Bianca and Lucentio. Petruchio is confrontingBaptista about receiving the promised dowry for wedding Katharina, and Baptistademands proof that Katharina has been tamed, a part of the bargain for receivingthe dowry, because he had heard rumors that Katharina was not tamed or liberated,but that Petruchio was the one that had given in to Katharina’s aggressivenature.
To prove he had tamed Katharina, Petruchio states to her the globein the sky is the moon at noon-time. Katharina turns to the blazing sun, andafter a few moments of silence from the whole town waiting for her response,says “My husband, you are mistaken. For it is the sun. I beg you, look again. “The shocked crowd turns to Petruchio who, instead of getting mad and threateningthey return to his home as in the other performances when they are on the roadto Padua, stares back at the sun, and says, “Why, you are right. How foolishof me.
” The rest of the tale ends with a variation of Katharina’s speech inan 1980’s fashion – that man and woman are to be equals and should not tryto be dominant over the other, and that it was Petruchio’s kindness towardsher that won her heart, for she was still the same opinionated woman. Shestates that what women truly want is for men to treat them with respect andthey will receive the same respect in return. In other words, Katharina wasnot the one needing to be tamed, but the brash attitude of Petruchio. FinalArgumentsThroughout this essay, I have presented four different argumentsabout the subject of Katharina’s taming. In analyzing the text of the playand seeing how different interpretations have presented the taming, I findthat I have to agree with two of the interpretations, the first that Katharinais acting tamed, and second that she was liberated. First, I feel that shewas just acting on the road to Padua, that she was still just pretending tobe tamed so she could see her family one more time.
I feel this with how quicklyshe changed her attitude when Petruchio threatened to return home and foregothe wedding. But, I also feel that her acting job here backfired against heremotionally. When she saw that by being obedient to Petruchio he treated heras an equal, she realized she needed to compromise her nature to keep thisman she was falling in love with, which leads to her being liberated. I sayKatharina is liberated because she still displays some of her shrewish attitudesduring the feast for Lucentio and Bianca’s wedding, when she drags out thetwo stubborn women, who refused to come out when the husbands called for them.
If she was tamed at this point, she would not have been aggressive towardsthe two ladies. If she was acting, she would have risked being discoveredif she showed herself being aggressive with the ladies. If she was liberatedand able to be as an equal with Petruchio, she would have acted the way shedid – aggressive towards those who were being stubborn about their husband’sauthority. I see it as Katharina was trying to show them that if they areobedient to their husband, the husband would treat them as an equal. I alsofind I have to agree with the Moonlighting version of the play, in a sense.
It has to be seen that if Katharina gave in some of her attitude towards Petruchio,Petruchio also had to give in some of his own attitude. The attitude of showrespect and obedience and receive respect and equality, although carried toan extreme in the Moonlighting episode, can be seen in all the versions ofthe play discussed. In conclusion, I believe that Katharina is not the onlyone who became liberated through the course of the play, but Petruchio as well,from his own super-masculinity.