Bruce's Reviews > The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
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Apr 16, 10

Read from April 15 to 16, 2010

A play within a play. Act I, Scene 1 uses familiar devices of an elder daughter needing to be married before the younger, and the exchange of identities to gain access to the beloved. In this case, the elder daughter is Katherine, the “shrew,” and the younger is Bianca, loved by several men.

This is indeed a “problem play.” Is one to see it simply as demonstrating the gender roles of the time in which it was written? Is it a satire? Petruccio makes no secret at the beginning that he pursues Katherine for her fortune, and after marriage he refers to her as his possession, his chattel. Are we to reflect on the extent to which this is or is not true today? It is certainly true in some contemporary cultures. Puzzling. Does the play intend to justify his methods?

By the end of the play, have Petruccio and Katherine come to a partnership, a sly understanding between themselves that they will front to the world, an agreement about arbitrary roles they will play? They seem genuinely to love each other, and both seem happy and content. What are the current gender roles that are expected or assumed in our culture and society? How might we critique them today?
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