A shrew is another name for a hostile tempered woman who talks in a manner likely to suggest that she is frustrated. The book “The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare is a story about Katherine, who is in this case the shrew. She is the major character and the author, just like the title suggests attempts to prove that indeed the violent lady is finally tamed by her husband Petruchio (Bloom 1999, p 11). This essay attempts to answer the following questions: Why has Kate been so shrewish? Was she really 'tamed' by Petruchio? Does she really love him? The discussion that will encompass this essay will emanate from the above questions. The argument will be strongly supported by the facts from the text in order to state the position in each case. The essay will support the idea that, indeed Petruchio is successful in taming Kate right from the word go.
When the play opens, Kate is indeed well known as a shrew in the whole region of Padua. She is presented by the writer as a quick tempered woman who does not have kind words for men. She hates them with passion and if provoked, she can easily knock somebody’s teeth off (Bloom 1999, p 14). Other characters believe that she must have been born with this condition yet the author observes that, her nature must have been triggered by her unhappiness. Her shrewish behavior is mainly attributed by her desperate nature. In yet another observation, Kate’s shrewish behavior might as well be as a result of the envy she has over her sister, who is treasured by their father more than anybody else in the family (Bloom 1999, p 29). In addition, the fact that Kate is growing old each waking day, might also be another factor contributing to her being shrewish considering the fact that she might not get anybody to marry her. This does not augur well with her. This loathsome behavior is indeed an indication that she feels out of place in the society.
The shrewish behavior of Kate can also be attributed to another reason which unfortunately she cannot reverse. Kate does not like the idea that she has to be submissive to men and especially her father and the husband to be. It is ironic that, while she still rigidly holds on this, she is quick to realize that, if she is to feel secure and loved, she definitely has to get married. This adds to her being shrewish. It is evident that, the more she continues to deny, these facts, the angrier she becomes (Bloom 1999, p 56). The fact that she eventually got married to Petruchio brings us to the next question; did he manage to tame her?
The rather greedy Petruchio hails from Verona, and comes to Kate’s home town looking for a wife who can probably make him rich quickly. His being introduced by the author is timely. He comes at a time when Kate is desperately in need of a husband. The dynamic nature of Kate is witnessed by the reader when Petruchio tells Baptista that she has consented to marry him (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 89). This marks the beginning of Kate being tamed by this clown, who believes in complete submission of a woman to her husband. The fact that Kate agrees for wedding preparation to commence without any word from her, is a clear indication that her shrewish behavior is slowly but surely being tamed. In fact, Kate had not agreed to marry him, but she opts to remain mum and allow wedding preparation to go on.
In yet another incidence that proves with no doubt that Petruchio is successful in taming Kate, is during and after their wedding. The rather shrewish Kate is perplexed when the husband to be is late for their wedding. This sparks fear in her that she might end up an old maid. Petruchio later shows up dressed like a clown and the desperate Kate has no choice. This is evident that Kate has completely undergone transition; this is not the Kate who is introduced at the beginning of the play (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 93). She is rather slow to anger and reasonable. Immediately the two gets married, Petruchio does not allow her time to celebrate. He quickly leaves with Kate to his home town and he makes himself clear that Kate is now his property and she therefore has to follow him (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 96). On arrival, at his home, the process of taming Kate takes a different direction when Petruchio deliberately denies her food all in the name of protecting her not to eat his low class food. All this comes in the name of love which is not the case. Kate is indeed being tamed.
In addition to the above incidences of Petruchio taming Kate, the idea does not seem to end there. A few days after the two have wedded; the two came back to Padua to salute Baptista. Petruchio continues stretching his muscles in an attempt to tame Kate. Kate is forced to agree that the sun is indeed the moon and that an old folk is with no doubt good looking. This she does without being adamant (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 112). The dynamic nature of Kate is slowly setting in. this is evident when she consents to all his new husband says. Her rather tamed nature seems to shock everybody during the banquet ceremony when she obeys her husband in presence of everybody. This is deliberately brought by the author to indicate that, the shrewish Kate, who hated men with passion at the beginning of the play, has really grown to be a respectable and obedient woman.
The dynamic nature of Kate is fully witnessed when she voluntarily gave a speech advising women to be loyal to their husbands besides being submitted. This brings on the service, a role model to other women who are perplexed by the sudden change of Kate’s character. Still at the banquet, a contest is organized in a bid to prove whose wife, among the newly wedded, will respond to he summon first. Everybody is shocked when their expectations are proved wrong by Kate. This sparks a confirmation from the people present that indeed Petruchio has successfully managed to tame Kate. To this end, the question of whether Kate indeed loved Petruchio crops up.
Upon the first meeting, Kate does not like the idea of getting married to Petruchio. She in fact abuses him. This does not keep Petruchio away and he makes a decision to marry her. The rather stubborn Kate only learns of her marriage to Petruchio when he is telling his friend. She does not react on this and the preparation for the marriage begins. This can be interpreted to mean that, the fact that Kate had seen better days and was in fear of dying an old maid, she unwillingly consented to get married to Petruchio (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 122). So at first, Kate is not in love with Petruchio. On the other hand, it is evident that, Kate slowly but surely learns how to love Petruchio as time elapses. Her rather obedient and submissive nature towards the end of the play cannot be termed as sheer pretence but true love of a wife to the husband. Her speech on loyalty further supports this statement; she does it out of love for her husband.
In conclusion, the author has managed to develop the setting of the play and the characters from the start of the play to the end. The play revolves around two towns which enables for diversity and the growing of the characters from very naïve persons to reasonable characters. For instance, the dynamic nature of Kate is kept going by the author from a shrew, to an obedient and submissive woman. Her contemptuous nature towards men is no more when the story comes to and end. She is portrayed as loving woman, and a role model to all (Bloom & Loos 2007, p 133).