William Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, is a controversial play that introduces a battle between a man and woman. The woman, whom is strong-willed, must show submission to her husband. As this play has been read by many people, there has been a wide range of different reactions about the play. Whether people agree with the morals of this play or disagree, it is based upon ones beliefs of what role women play in society.
Petruccio, the man who is trying to tame Katherine, tries to “teach [her] that she must obey him [and he] acts the part of ‘shrew tamer’” (159). Katherine is quite reluctant to Petruccio trying to tame her, and she has the right to the anger she feels toward him. Katherine is a very strong woman who feels the need for independence in her life. Petruccio, however, would like to hold power over her so that he may tame her. Throughout the play the audience is guided along Katherine’s journey of complete submission to Petruccio, whom eventually becomes her husband.
The end of the play marks the most important and significant part of the play. Katherine shows her submission to her husband, Petruccio. In Katherine’s speech at the end of the play she admits: “Such duty as the subject owes the prince, Even such a woman oweth to her husband, And when she is forward, peevish, sullen, sour, And not obedient to his honest will, What is she but a foul contending rebel, And graceless traitor to her loving lord?” (Lines 159-164) This part of her speech signifies that women are supposed to treat their husband as a servant would treat their royal prince. This is putting men in a higher reign of power and acknowledging them as rulers of their women. This is not agreeable by any means because women should have the right to equality in a marriage.
In a sermon, titled ‘Of Domesticall Duties: Eight Treatises’ by William Gouge, it is noted that wives are to be “in subjection to obey [their] own husbands” (1). It is also said that if the “wives be stubborn, froward, and malapert, their husbands are compelled thereby to abhor and flee form their own houses even as they should have battle with their enemies” (1). This quotation is immoral because when a man and women are married, the man should not be allowed to flee at his own discretion. In those times, however, this unfortunately was permitted.
After studying the play further and reading through relatable sermons, it is evident that womanly independence was highly discouraged. A woman having a man in her life, who gives her some direction, is not terrible. The ways that a man holds power over a woman and essentially becomes the boss of her however, is not right. There is a fine line between being a woman’s husband, and being a woman’s boss. A woman should be entitled to her own independence and sovereignty. Looking at the period where this play originated, it is common to discourage women from having equality to men. However, it still doesn’t make their views correct. It is encouraging to see our time period evolve since then, as it is less common to have a man trying to tame his wife. It is heartbreaking to see that some people still live by those same morals in our society. I believe that we as a generation have done a better job of trying to disregard the same views that were held during Shakespearean times.