IH English 10
21 April, 2010
Is Kate’s Final Speech Sincere Or Ironic?
The character of Kate in William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew is an outspoken and stubborn young woman living in Italy during the sixteenth century. Her independence and willful attitude mean that she often has difficulty conforming to social norms and fulfilling society’s expectations of her. Kate is pressured into marrying Petruchio, her only suitor, whose sights are set on her dowry. Petruchio proves an abusive husband, depriving her of food and sleep in an attempt to “tame” her. Kate, in her turn, is spiteful and even violent toward Petruchio, and acts the part of the “shrew” quite well throughout the book. In the final scene, Kate appears to have a change of heart, however. Upon witnessing her sister, Bianca disobeying her own husband, Kate drags her in front of a crowd of wedding guests, and proceeds to deliver a lecture. Kate reprimands Bianca for her unkindness to her “lord,” her “king,” her “governor,” (V.2) and then elaborately professes her own love for and willingness to serve Petruchio. In spite of her words, however, Kate’s attitude toward her husband has not changed, her speech is a show, and she is profiting considerably from putting it on. Kate has spent so very long acting the part of the shrew, it would take a great deal of persuasion to transform her as completely as she appears to have been transformed. More persuasion, I believe, than was given her in the play. Throughout the entire story, Kate has been disdainful, cynical and stubborn; and as anyone who has ever been in an argument will agree, a person does not spend his (or her, as the case may be) entire life staunchly defending their beliefs, only to suddenly renounce them. Kate relentlessly resisted Petruchio’s attempts to “tame” her, as she tells her wedding guests in Act III, “a woman may be made a fool if she had not a spirit to resist” (III.2). And yet, Kate eats her...