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The Taming Of The Shrew: the Couple's Motives

Even in such an early scene Katherina seems to already be changing since she has met Petruchio. She had had many other suitors in the past, however once they understood what she was really like they had not wanted to marry her. Petruchio however was a match to her, and perhaps was equal in terms of wit and power, Katherina responded to this and although she may object to marrying him, she does not completely oppose to what is happening, even though she has some chance of doing.

Along with the equal power they both possess, Katherina shows another motive of wanted to marry earlier on in the scene.

She seems to be jealous of her sister Bianca because her father shows particular favouritism towards Bianca, and Bianca is known to be the pretty sister, and the one who has the most suitors. Katherina shows concern that she may be humiliated on her sisters wedding day, when she does not have a husband herself by saying, ‘she must have a husband, /I must dance barefoot on her wedding day, /And for your love to her lead apes in hell’.

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These lines refer to what people said about unmarried women will have to lead apes into hell because they do not have any children. In Act III Scene II Katherina changes her opinion on her desire to wed.

At the beginning of the scene Baptista, Tranio and Katherina have a brief conversation where Katherina tells her father, Baptista, how she does not want to marry.

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She says, ‘No shame but mine. I must, forsooth, be forced to give my hand, opposed my heart’. Even though her father then realises that she does not want to marry Petruchio, he still does nothing to stop it. Although, this part of the scene suggests she does not wish to marry, however when it comes to the wedding Katherina appears both upset and disappointed when she starts believing that Petruchio is not going to turn up.

She may not have given the impression that she wanted to marry him before, but when it comes down to it she is in fact flattered that someone wants to marry her, especially as her sister, Bianca, is usually the one who receives the most male attention. So when starts believing that Petruchio is not going to turn up, I imagine her to feel humiliated at the fact that he does indeed not want to marry her after all, even after she was warming to the idea of marriage. After Petruchio finally turns up being is late and inappropriately dressed, he then refuses to stay for the feast.

This is when Katherina reverts to her usual shrew-like self by saying, ‘I will not go today! No, nor tomorrow – not till I please myself’. She tries to put her foot down in hope that Petruchio will let her stay however instead Petruchio simply puts her in her place, referring to her as ‘my horse, my ox, my ass, my everything’, he clearly reminds her that he is now her master, leaving her no choice but to leave. Act IV Scene III shows a similar to relationship between Katherina and Petruchio that Act III Scene ii shows us, however in Act IV Scene III Petruchio has extended the extremity of this methods to tame her.

Petruchio goes against what Katherina wants and thinks; he starves her and tells her that the food is not fit to eat, he shows her nice clothes but then says they are not good enough to wear, and he says that it is a different time of day to what she thinks although she is correct. Petruchio does all of this as a way of dominating her, however if this was acted out on stage then his extreme methods may not be suitable, as women are seen in a completely different way to how they were when Shakespeare wrote the play.

The fact that he has starved her and treated her so cruelly may anger some women, or even men, who watch the play so the violence and unkindness may have to be toned down. I think that when Petruchio refused to allow Katherina to wear the dress it was not simply to go against her judgment as she had ever seen a dress ‘more quaint, more pleasing, nor more commendable’, but instead he stopped her wearing it because he did not think that her attitude and disobedience manners made her worthy of the dress, and when she would later become a better wife, she would then be allowed to wear it.

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The Taming Of The Shrew: the Couple's Motives. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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