Taming of the Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew is a performance that raises a number of issues concerning appearance versus reality. The assumption that many characters in the play are persuaded to be what they are not ignores the evident fact that each character chooses the role that they are to play. The culturally constructed hierarchy of power causes the actors to perform certain roles to avoid the constricting norms in society and retain their identities. Despite the ease with which they mask their true selves, the characters exist as others to oppose the patriarchy. Shakespeare uses Sly, Katherine, Bianca, and Petruchio to reveal the power of the hierarchy as a farce that can be manipulated. Shakespeare uses the Induction to give the reader a notion as to what to expect, and introduce a number of crucial themes evident throughout the play. The Induction serves as a mirror to the rest of the play, emphasizes the theme of mistaken identities, and constitutes the Taming of the Shrew as a play within a play. This aspect of the Induction gives rise to the importance of performance, which has a drastic effect on one’s interpretation of the play. The play is portrayed as the dream of a drunken tinker, and therefore is, in effect, a farce perform  1)APPEARANCE VS. REALITY Appearances are not always an indication of a person‟s true identity The play is full of physical disguises, deception, changes in attitude and behavior, and psychological changes The Lord‟s “transformation” of Sly from a drunk to a nobleman Lucentio disguising himself as a language teacher (Cambio) to woo Bianca Hortensio disguising himself as a music teacher to get close to Bianca The pedant impersonating Vincentio Tranio impersonates his master Lucentio  3. APPEARANCE VS. REALITY Petruchio‟ s wedding embarrass and humiliate Kate. Kate accepting whatever Petruchio says is true Bianca‟s obedience (not as sweet as they thought) Kate‟s transition from a shrew to a tamed wife  4. 2)DISGUISE Disguise figures in The Taming of the Shrew: Sly dresses as a lord, Lucentio dresses as a Latin tutor, Tranio dresses as Lucentio , Hortensio dresses as a music tutor, and the pedant dresses as Vincentio. These disguises enable the characters to transgress barriers in social position and class, and, for a time, each of them is successful. The play thus poses the question of whether clothes make the man‟s personality, whether a person can change his or her role by putting on new clothes. The ultimate answer is no, of course. As Petruchio implies on his wedding day, a garment is simply a garment, and the person beneath remains the same no matter what disguise is worn. One of the primary themes in literature and drama examines the issue of appearance versus reality, often in terms of some delusion held by a character or characters. William Shakespeare explores this theme in various ways in many of his plays, and explorations of the issue can be found in Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew. The theme is embodied in both plays in the way certain characters play-act or pretend to be someone they are not, which links the questions of appearance versus reality directly to the drama itself. In the drama, actors pretend to be other people and act out versions of reality before an audience, and both the exploration of the question of what is reality and the way that exploration is presented rely on the contrast between illusion and reality. Both plays are also love stories, and aspects of love are examined as they relate to the question of what is real and what is illusion. In The Taming of the Shrew, This play features two couples, one couple openly in love, the other couple openly battling their way to the feeling of love without knowing that is what they are doing. The two males are pursuing the sisters, Bianca and Kate, and both relationships are complicated by the conditions placed on the two young women by their father. Lucentio loves Bianca, and though he wants to woo her, he will...
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