And well we may come there by dinner-time. Look what I speak, or do, or think to do, You are still crossing it. Sirs, let't alone, I will not go today; and ere I do, It shall be what o'clock I say it is. Kidnie says of this scene, "the language game has suddenly changed and the stakes have been raised. Whereas before he seemed to mishear or misunderstand her words, Petruchio now overtly tests his wife's subjection by demanding that she concede to his views even when they are demonstrably unreasonable.
The lesson is that Petruchio has the absolute authority to rename their world. His apparent victory in the 'language game' is seen in Act 4, Scene 5, when Katherina is made to switch the words "moon" and "sun", and she concedes that she will agree with whatever Petruchio says, no matter how absurd:. And be it the moon, or sun, or what you please; And if you please to call it a rush-candle , Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me But sun it is not, when you say it is not, And the moon changes even as your mind: What you will have it named, even that it is, And so it shall be so for Katherine.
Of this scene, Kidnie argues "what he 'says' must take priority over what Katherina 'knows'. The important role of language, however, is not confined to the taming plot. For example, in a psychoanalytic reading of the play, Joel Fineman suggests there is a distinction made between male and female language, further subcategorising the latter into good and bad, epitomised by Bianca and Katherina respectively. Here, Sly speaks in prose until he begins to accept his new role as lord, at which point he switches to blank verse and adopts the royal we.
In productions of the play, it is often the interpretation of Katherina's final speech the longest speech in the play that defines the tone of the entire production, such is the importance of this speech and what it says, or seems to say, about female submission:. Fie, fie! It blots thy beauty, as frosts do bite the meads, Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds, And in no sense is meet or amiable. A woman moved is like a fountain troubled, Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty, And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign: one that cares for thee, And for thy maintenance; commits his body To painful labour both by sea and land, To watch the night in storms, the day in cold, Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe, And craves no other tribute at thy hands But love, fair looks, and true obedience — Too little payment for so great a debt. Such duty as the subject owes the prince, Even such a woman oweth to her husband; And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour, And not obedient to his honest will, What is she but a foul contending rebel And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple To offer war where they should kneel for peace; Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, When they are bound to serve, love, and obey. Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth, Unapt to toil and trouble in the world, But that our soft conditions, and our hearts, Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms! My mind hath been as big as one of yours, My heart as great, my reason haply more, To bandy word for word and frown for frown; But now I see our lances are but straws, Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare, That seeming to be most which we indeed least are. Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot, And place your hands below your husband's foot; In token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready, may it do him ease. Traditionally, many critics have taken the speech literally.
Writing in , for example, G. Duthie argued "what Shakespeare emphasises here is the foolishness of trying to destroy order. George Bernard Shaw wrote in that "no man with any decency of feeling can sit it out in the company of a woman without being extremely ashamed of the lord-of-creation moral implied in the wager and the speech put into the woman's own mouth. Actress Meryl Streep , who played Katherina in at the Shakespeare in the Park festival , says of the play, "really what matters is that they have an incredible passion and love; it's not something that Katherina admits to right away, but it does provide the source of her change.
Bean sees the speech as the final stage in the process of Katherina's change of heart towards Petruchio; "if we can appreciate the liberal element in Kate's last speech — the speech that strikes modern sensibilities as advocating male tyranny — we can perhaps see that Kate is tamed not in the automatic manner of behavioural psychology but in the spontaneous manner of the later romantic comedies where characters lose themselves and emerge, as if from a dream, liberated into the bonds of love. Perhaps the most common interpretation in the modern era is that the speech is ironic; Katherina has not been tamed at all, she has merely duped Petruchio into thinking she has.
Two especially well known examples of this interpretation are seen in the two major feature film adaptations of the play; Sam Taylor 's version and Franco Zeffirelli 's version. In Taylor's film, Katherina, played by Mary Pickford , winks at Bianca during the speech, indicating she does not mean a word of what she is saying. She points out that several lines in the speech focus on the woman's body, but in the Elizabethan theatre , the role would have been played by a young boy, thus rendering any evocation of the female form as ironic.
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Reading the play as a satire of gender roles, she sees the speech as the culmination of this process. And in declaring women's passivity so extensively and performing it centre-stage, Kate might be seen to take on a kind of agency that rebukes the feminine codes of silence and obedience which she so expressly advocates.
He has gained her outward compliance in the form of a public display, while her spirit remains mischievously free. In relation to this interpretation, William Empson suggests that Katherina was originally performed by an adult male actor rather than a young boy. He argues that the play indicates on several occasions that Katherina is physically strong, and even capable of over-powering Petruchio. For example, this is demonstrated off-stage when the horse falls on her as she is riding to Petruchio's home, and she is able to lift it off herself, and later when she throws Petruchio off a servant he is beating.
Empson argues that the point is not that Katherina is, as a woman, weak, but that she is not well cast in the role in life which she finds herself having to play. The end of the play then offers blatant irony when a strong male actor, dressed as a woman, lectures women on how to play their parts.
The fourth school of thought is that the play is a farce, and hence the speech should not be read seriously or ironically. For example, Robert B. Heilman argues that "the whole wager scene falls essentially within the realm of farce: the responses are largely mechanical, as is their symmetry. Kate's final long speech on the obligations and fitting style of wives we can think of as a more or less automatic statement — that is, the kind appropriate to farce — of a generally held doctrine. One is that a careful reading of the lines will show that most of them have to be taken literally; only the last seven or eight lines can be read with ironic overtones [ Another way in which to read the speech and the play as farcical is to focus on the Induction.
Oliver, for example, emphasising the importance of the Induction, writes "the play within the play has been presented only after all the preliminaries have encouraged us to take it as a farce. We have been warned. It does not, cannot, work. The play has changed key: it has modulated back from something like realistic social comedy to the other, 'broader' kind of entertainment that was foretold by the Induction.
Emma Smith suggests a possible fifth interpretation: Petruchio and Kate have colluded together to plot this set-piece speech, "a speech learned off pat", to demonstrate that Kate is the most obedient of the three wives and so allow Petruchio to win the wager. The issue of gender politics is an important theme in The Taming of the Shrew. In a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette , George Bernard Shaw famously called the play "one vile insult to womanhood and manhood from the first word to the last.
This new boundary was built on notions of class and civil behaviour. Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew acts as a comedic roadmap for reconfiguring these emergent modes of "skillful" and civilised dominance for gentle men, that is, for subordinating a wife without resorting to the "common" man's brute strength.
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Petruchio's answer is to psychologically tame Katherina, a method not frowned upon by society; "the play signals a shift towards a "modern" way of managing the subordination of wives by legitimatising domination as long as it is not physical. The play encourages its audience not only to pay close attention to Petruchio's method but also to judge and enjoy the method's permissibility because of the absence of blows and the harmonious outcome.
However, Detmer is critical of scholars who defend Shakespeare for depicting male dominance in a less brutal fashion than many of his contemporaries. For example, although not specifically mentioned by Detmer, Michael West writes "the play's attitude was characteristically Elizabethan and was expressed more humanly by Shakespeare than by some of his sources.
Her surrender and obedience signify her emotional bondage as a survival strategy; she aims to please because her life depends upon it. Knowing how the Stockholm syndrome works can help us to see that whatever " subjectivity " might be achieved is created out of domination and a coercive bonding. In a Marxist reading of the play, Natasha Korda argues that, although Petruchio is not characterised as a violent man, he still embodies sixteenth century notions regarding the subjugation and objectification of women.
Shrew taming stories existed prior to Shakespeare's play, and in such stories, "the object of the tale was simply to put the shrew to work, to restore her frequently through some gruesome form of punishment to her proper productive place within the household economy. He seeks to educate her in her role as a consumer. Vital in this reading is Katherina's final speech, which Korda argues "inaugurates a new gendered division of labour, according to which husbands "labour both by sea and land" while their wives luxuriate at home [ In a different reading of how gender politics are handled in the play, David Beauregard reads the relationship between Katherina and Petruchio in traditional Aristotelian terms.
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Petruchio, as the architect of virtue Politics , 1. The virtue of obedience at the center of Kate's final speech is not what Aristotle describes as the despotic rule of master over slave, but rather the statesman's rule over a free and equal person Politics , 1. Recognising the evil of despotic domination, the play holds up in inverse form Kate's shrewishness, the feminine form of the will to dominance, as an evil that obstructs natural fulfillment and destroys marital happiness. The roughness is, at bottom, part of the fun: such is the peculiar psychology of sport that one is willing to endure aching muscles and risk the occasional broken limb for the sake of the challenge.
The sports most often recalled throughout the play are blood sports , hunting and hawking , thus invoking in the audience the state of mind in which cruelty and violence are acceptable, even exciting, because their scope is limited by tacit agreement and they are made the occasion for a display of skill. Ann Thompson argues that "the fact that in the folktale versions the shrew-taming story always comes to its climax when the husbands wager on their wives' obedience must have been partly responsible for the large number of references to sporting, gaming and gambling throughout the play.
These metaphors can help to make Petruchio's cruelty acceptable by making it seem limited and conventionalised.
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Director Michael Bogdanov , who directed the play in , considers that "Shakespeare was a feminist":. Shakespeare shows women totally abused — like animals — bartered to the highest bidder. He shows women used as commodities, not allowed to choose for themselves. In The Taming of the Shrew you get that extraordinary scene between Baptista, Grumio, and Tranio, where they are vying with each other to see who can offer most for Bianca, who is described as 'the prize'.
It is a toss of the coin to see which way she will go: to the old man with a certain amount of money, or to the young man, who is boasting that he's got so many ships. She could end up with the old impotent fool, or the young 'eligible' man: what sort of life is that to look forward to?
There is no question of it, [Shakespeare's] sympathy is with the women, and his purpose, to expose the cruelty of a society that allows these things to happen. The motivation of money is another theme. When speaking of whether or not someone may ever want to marry Katherina, Hortensio says "Though it pass your patience and mine to endure her loud alarums, why man, there be good fellows in the world, and a man could light on them, would take her with all faults and money enough" 1.
In the scene that follows Petruchio says:. If thou know One rich enough to be Petruchio's wife- As wealth is burden of my wooing dance- Be she as foul as was Florentius ' love, As old as Sibyl , and as curst and shrewd As Socrates' Xanthippe, or a worse, She moves me not. A few lines later Grumio says, "Why give him gold enough and marry him to a puppet or an aglet -baby, or an old trot with ne're a tooth in her head, though she have as many diseases as two and fifty horses.
Why, nothing comes amiss, so money comes withal" 1. Furthermore, Petruchio is encouraged to woo Katherina by Gremio, Tranio as Lucentio , and Hortensio, who vow to pay him if he wins her, on top of Baptista's dowry "After my death, the one half of my lands, and in possession, twenty thousand crowns". Later, Petruchio does not agree with Baptista on the subject of love in this exchange:. Gremio and Tranio literally bid for Bianca. The first opera based on the play was Ferdinando Bertoni 's opera buffa Il duca di Atene , with libretto by Carlo Francesco Badini.
Frederic Reynolds ' Catherine and Petruchio is an adaptation of Garrick, with an overture taken from Gioachino Rossini , songs derived from numerous Shakespeare plays and sonnets , and music by John Braham and Thomas Simpson Cooke. It was first performed at the original National Theatre Mannheim. Johan Wagenaar 's De getemde feeks is the second of three overtures Wagenaar wrote based on Shakespeare, the others being Koning Jan and Driekoningenavond A tragedy, the opera depicts Sly as a hard-drinking and debt-ridden poet who sings in a London pub.
When he is tricked into believing that he is a lord, his life improves, but upon learning it is a ruse, he mistakenly concludes the woman he loves Dolly only told him she loved him as part of the ruse. In despair, he kills himself by cutting his wrists, with Dolly arriving too late to save him. Sly is duped by a Lord into believing that he himself is a lord. However, he soon becomes aware of the ruse, and when left alone, he flees with the Lord's valuables and his two mistresses.
The earliest known musical adaptation of the play was a ballad opera based on Charles Johnson's Cobler of Preston.
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