Taming of the Shrew

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The play The Taming of the Shrew is essentially a comedy, and yet more serious questions about gender issues overshadow its comic features. Comment.

In the Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare creates a troubling comedy that explores Elizabethan issues of gender. Although it is apparent that Shakespeare’s vast use of humour throughout the first 3 acts helps bring out several subtle concepts such as ‘things are not always as they seem’, multiple questions regarding gender come across more prominently and significantly as the main plot is derived from such gender issues such as what is the ideal behaviour of a woman through the theme of feminism; are females expected to subject to male dominance through the theme of patriarchy as well as which gender holds the most power in the ‘battle of the sexes’.

To give a brief introduction on the comedy that Shakespeare has carefully woven through the use humour, it is important to take note as to how he employs various forms of humour such as verbal humour, slap-stick humour, witty banter as well as situational humour. The play begins with an induction in which a drunkard, Cristopher Sly, is fooled into believing he is a king as he laments “Upon my life, I am a lord indeed,

And not a tinker; nor Christopher Sly”
and orders a play to be performed for him. Interestingly, the play he watches is what constitutes the main body of The Taming of the Shrew. By creating false realities here, Shakespeare is able to employ situational humour to humour readers as they ridicule Christopher Sly for his foolishness and naivety.

Moving on to the main plot, most of the plays humour again comes from the way in which characters create false realities by disguising themselves as other people. Almost all characters in the play take on identities other than their own at some point of time during the play for example, Tranio as Lucentio, Lucention as Cambio and Hortensio as Litio. Moreover, it situational humour...
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