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"in What Ways Is 'the Taming of the Shrew' an Appropriate Title for the Play?". an Exploration of Shakespeare's Dramatic Presentation of Katherina.

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"In what ways is 'The Taming of the Shrew' an appropriate title for the play?". An exploration of Shakespeare's dramatic presentation of Katherina.

In the play, 'The Taming of the Shrew', characters contribute greatly to the development of the storyline. As one of the main characters Katherina's shrewish behaviour adds the comical aspect at the beginning of the play and by the end has been diminished with the help of Petruchio's taming techniques. Shakespeare uses the difference in personality between Petruchio and Katherina to create a sense of tension, but also comedy.

When Petruchio learns of the wealth he would receive if he were to marry Katherina he is excited by the prospect of a challenge.

"Do you tell me of a woman's tongue, that gives not half so great a blow to hear as will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?".(1.2.206-208)

At first he does not understand why the other men avoid her to such an extent but it is only during their first meeting that he encounters her full temperament. Both characters use 'quick fire' lines to create a sense of speed in the way they act as though they were trying to outsmart each other.

Petruchio believes he has the intelligence to outwit Katherina and change her within a limited amount of time and it is not long before she changes her ways and begins to act more like women were expected to at this time.

"I know she is an irksome brawling scold. If that be all masters, I hear no harm". (1.2.186-187).

This shows that although Petruchio knows about Katherina's previous reputation of being badly behaved he feels that, because she is a woman, it will be a simple task for him to 'tame' her. He also knows that if they were to become married it would be even easier because she would be held under wedding vows in which she would have said, 'to honour and obey'.

From the very first scene Shakespeare sets up the audience to be prepared for the main theme in the play, 'taming'. There is the apparent parallel between Petruchio taming Katherina and Sly being tricked into thinking he was a Lord.

"I am Christophero Sly, call not me 'honour' nor 'lordship'". (Induction.2.5-6).

In Katherina's first appearance Shakespeare portrays her as somewhat of a rebel. She does as she pleases and will not be told any different, especially not by her father. In an attempt to settle her down he suggests that Bianca, her younger sister, cannot marry until Katherina is.

"Not to bestow my youngest daughter before I have a husband for the elder". (1.1.50-51).

This does not seem to have a generally positive effect on her behaviour but creates an incentive for Bianca to try to change her sister's ways.

As the play progresses the audience witness certain behaviour levels change. As Katherina becomes better behaved and well mannered it becomes apparent that Petruchio's behaviour is declining. After they become married he knows she cannot retaliate to any actions he may show so does his best to embarrass her. This is most obvious during the wedding ceremony when he arrives late, wearing

"a pair of old breeches thrice turned" and "a pair of boots that had been candle-cases, one buckled, another laced".(3.2.42-44).

Petruchio claims that Katherina should love him for himself and that she should not be affected by his appearance.

"To me she's married, not unto my clothes".(3.2.115).

The fact that she does not love him contributes greatly to the embarrassment of the situation for her, which, in theory, should be the happiest day of her life.

Immediately after the wedding Petruchio begins Katherina's 'taming'. His aim is to contradict everything said about her to provide her with a false impression of herself.

"Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain she sings as sweetly as a nightingale. Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear as morning roses newly wash'd with dew."(2.1.170-173).

This could suggest that the longer Petruchio carries on telling lies to Katherina about herself, the more she would start to believe him due to the fact that he was her husband. After the wedding ceremony Katherina's behaviour quickly develops in a positive way, which illustrates that Petruchio's techniques are taking effect. He uses a hard but fair hand to obtain what he wants from Katherina without making his intentions appear obvious to her father. Perhaps the reason why Katherina reacts so well to the taming is because it mirrors her days at school. There may still be the subconscious feeling that makes her obey what he says, not at first, but as the taming continues. Katherina's behaviour continually escalates in a positive way as she becomes increasingly well mannered and obedient to the people around her, this ends in her actually becoming a more sought-after woman than Bianca which consequently leads to her being a better wife.

From the start of the play it becomes apparent that there are some elements of jealousy between Katherina and her younger sister Bianca. It seems that Baptista favours Bianca over Katherina because she shows good manners and behaves as women were expected to and Katherina knows this.

"Nay, now I see she is your treasure".(2.1.31-32).

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