The Taming of the Shrew Essay
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The servants in the play are mainly dopey and dim-witted. They fool around stage acting stupidly and behaving erratically. As the majority of the audiences would not have had a proper education, so they would rely on these exaggerated actions and visual antics. An example of this would be when Petruchio returns home after the wedding, only to find his servants gossiping. A frantic scene follows where the servants all end up falling over each other etc. This kind of foolish behaviour would have entertained un-educated Elizabethan audiences.
All comedies by Shakespeare follow the same simple structure, similar to all other plays. The play starts with an exposition stage, which is when the story emerges and things start to go wrong and get out of hand. Next is the complication stage, which is when the play becomes even more complicated and everyone appears stuck. However, finally is the resolution stage where all the problems are solved. In tragedy plays, the play ends with the death of the hero or heroine, but in the majority of comedy plays, the play ends with a marriage.
The tangled plot has been unwoven and problems solved. Petruchio immediately sets out to ‘tame’ Katherina and her wild personality. Not only is he physically stronger than her, he is also wittier – this is constantly apparent as he persistently winds Kate up: “Pet. You lie, in faith for you are call’d plain Kate, And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst; But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom. Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate, … ” In this quotation, Petruchio is outlining his superiority over Katherina by winding her up by being patronising.
After a direct order to not call her Kate, Petruchio goes on to persistently call her ‘Kate’ to show his power. This not only annoys her, but weakens her and wears her down. He shows that he is not afraid to confront her – making it clear from the outset that he is out to tame her. Petruchio’s methods of taming Katherina would appear disrespectful to modern audiences however they would have merely been humorous to Elizabethans. Throughout the play, the taming process continues, becoming more severe as the play progresses.
At one point, Petruchio starves Kate, and deprives her of sleep to physically weaken her. Much of Petruchio’s speeches consist of ‘c’s and ‘k’s. This harsh phonology could suggest his dominance. Also, the majority of ‘Kate’ repetitions are stressed using iambic pentameter. After a long taming period, Kate eventually ‘caves in’. She begins to realize that the only way she is going to get what she wants is to agree with what ever Petruchio says.
“Kat: Young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet Pet: Why, how now Kate. I hope thou are not mad. This is a man, old, wrinkled, wither’d” This is said directly after Petruchio comments there a beautiful young woman present. This also adds comedy to the play, as the person being addressed is in fact an old rather fat man, nothing like a beautiful young woman. This is a pivotal moment in the play as it is the turning point, where Katherina finally gives into Petruchio’s unrelenting taming process. After this, Petruchio’s taming of Kate is complete.