The Taming of the Shrew The Taming of the Shrew discussion


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Stockholm syndrome?

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Rosamond Shakespeare argues that an insecure female being conditioned and developing Stockholm syndrome (a method used to train pigeons, and now applied by Guantanamo Bay) is the reason females are naturally servants of men. Did he mean to make that mistake, or did he genuinely believe it?


Jeni I'm trying to puzzle out your question. Stockholm Syndrome is something that refers to a bank robbery in Stockholm in 1973, so I'm positive Shakespeare never mentioned anything of the sort.

Forming an emotional bond with your captive is not new, however. You find yourself in a traumatic situation and the person that feeds and cares for you, even to a limited degree, becomes your savior, of sorts.

Women in Shakespeare's day were subservient to men because women were property. Men could vote, own property, inherit money and titles, make decisions, and determine a woman's fate from marriage to where she lives, who she sees, or what she wears. A man with only daughters would often pass his property and titles to a nephew or, in a pinch, a male relative of any kind, leaving the women to beg for shelter sometimes.

This is why females seemed natural servants to men. They relied on men for every little thing and would, of course, cater to their whims to stay in their good graces.

This isn't quite the same as attaching yourself emotionally to someone who abducts or traumatizes you in a stressful situation.

As for the last part of your question, he genuinely believed women were servants to men because his society said so. It's abundantly clear, at least to me, that he liked women very much, because they are always strongly portrayed in his works.


Rosamond I'm aware of the time line. What we now call Stockholm syndrome was used, in Shakespearean time, to train pigeons.

I'm talking more about the specific situation Kate is in when she is forced into marriage, then pushed down while simultaneously being shown sympathy; those are the two requirements for this syndrome. Which is an expression of how inferior women are and what they should be like, apparently. Yes, it ties into why women are property.

You could take Shakespeare's argument at face value (Kate's speech basically says it), but it almost seams like a deliberate pothole to have the psychologically domesticated female say it. I think there might possibly be more to it.


Hayley Linfield I've seen The Taming of the Shrew a few different times. The first time I saw it, in Stratford years ago, Kate's speech at the end was delivered in a completely sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek way, giving the audience the impression that indeed she had not been 'tamed.' Years later I saw it in London, England and was amazed that it was delivered straight, as though she actually believed what she was saying. Depending on how it's given, (said), it can have very opposite meaning.

Of course, she still ends up loving him, but in the first example, I felt that they were relative equals. In the second way I saw it, it felt like she was succumbing to accept her slavery.

Maybe that's off topic, but reread that speech and see how it can be taken two opposite ways.


☯Emily  Ginder I have seen it performed both ways also. I prefer the former interpretation, but probably the second was more appropriate for the time period.


message 6: by Mkfs (last edited Jul 25, 2014 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mkfs There was more to it than merely making Kate fall in love with Petrucchio.

In the beginning of the play, Kate is a mean person. Go on, re-read it: there is not a single scene in which she does not berate, insult, or assault her family, tutors, or indeed just about anyone in the vicinity.

Why her family puts up with this is anyone's guess. Perhaps, as the eldest daughter, she was a bit spoiled by an indulgent father.

Petruchio trains her as he would a hawk: domesticating her. That is, making her fit for domestic life. (Quick note for the original poster: Stockholm Syndrome is the mental condition which can result from this treatment, it is not the name of the actual brainwashing treatment).


The most telling scene for me is when they encounter Vincentio on their return from Petruchio's country house. Petruchio tells her the old man is a young maid. At the end of her tether (because his will has proved stronger than hers), she gives in and greets the old man as if he were a young woman.

And guess what? She has fun with it. She actually enjoys the game. This is the first time in the play where we can picture Kate smiling and laughing.

KATHARINA:
Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes,
That have been so bedazzled with the sun
That everything I look on seemeth green:
Now I perceive thou art a reverend father;
Pardon, I pray thee, for my mad mistaking.
...
VINCENTIO:
Fair sir, and you my merry mistress,
That with your strange encounter much amazed me


This is more than a simple crushing of her will. She has kept her wit and intelligence. She is not mentally or emotionally dependent on Petruchio. Perhaps in him she found someone who she can respect? Someone who basically called her bluff (because, as pointed out earlier, women were largely dependent on men) and laid out on very clear terms what the quid pro quo of their marriage would be.


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