Shakespeare’s the Taming of the Shrew: Analyzing Kate

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The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. It is both a witty and complex play with characters that are appealing and believable drawn from life and based on a keen understanding of human nature. One can see this in the main character of the play, the shrew Katherine. Critics and Shakespearean scholars have often wondered about Kate’s character. Conjectures for the reasons of Kate’s shrewd behavior as well as her tameness have puzzled scholars for ages. This essay will attempt to decipher Kate’s shrewish character from the beginning with her father and sister, through the middle with her first meeting of Petruchio, to the finale where she is finally tamed. There is a strong underlying notion that Kate’s shrewish behavior is a by-product of the mistreatment of her sister and father. Firstly, Kate’s father continually humiliates her in public. For example, when Baptista, Kate’s father, informed Bianca’s suitors, Tranio and Lucentio, in public that he will not allow either of them to marry his younger daughter until a husband is found for Katherine; he is in effect announcing he first wants to have Katherine off his hands. He then offers her to either of Bianca’s suitors. Katherine’s humiliation at this point is complete. Not only is she discussed on a public street like a piece of scandalous gossip; but she is also offered to her sister’s suitors by her own father and profusely turned away as one turns away from a piece of rotten meat. Kate then tries to reveal her mortification to her father, “I pray you, sir, is it your will/To make a stale of me amongst these mates?” (57-58). Upon hearing this, Hortensio scolds Kate for her infamous temper to which she replies that if she cared enough about him to bother, she would hit him on the head with a stool. This is nothing more than a defense of her pride, she is being publicly humiliated and she reacts with haughtiness to cover her embarrassment. Kate is further humiliated when...
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