Feminism in the Elizabethan Era

Topics: The Taming of the Shrew, Elizabethan era / Pages: 5 (1154 words) / Published: Sep 8th, 2006
In the Elizabethan era women were portrayed as less than equals to men. Male seemed to be the dominate gender and women were to be seen-not-heard. They existed within a patriarchal society. As a feminist himself, Shakespeare shows through his plays how women are ill treated and powerless; yet possess more intelligence than the male characters. This is why Shakespeare creates overwhelming female characters; which is evident in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", where the lead female character shows dominance.

The major themes and motives surrounding the feminist issue are "deception and disguise" in regards to marriage, "Marriage as an Economic Institution" and "position of women in society". Characters use deception and disguise to manipulate other characters into falling in love under false pretences. People in this era have often used marriage as a way of gaining status and wealth, where no love was involved. Women in society were to be seen-not-heard; they were expected to be obedient and faithful to their husband, while the husband would simply do as he pleased. There are also a variety of techniques which Shakespeare uses to communicate with the audience such as language techniques including imagery, alliteration, rhetorical questions, soliloquies and puns.

Katherina, also known as the "shrew", is the central character of the play. As Katherina is introduced in the play she is instantly revealed to be fierce, ferocious, and foul tempered. Katherina speaks direct and freely which is not accepted in her society, and as a result she is labeled a "shrew". She is renowned for her sharp tongue:

Katherina Act 2 scene 1 line 205

If I be waspish, best beware my sting.

During Act 1, when Baptista and Grumio are talking about Katherina, Grumio remarks:


'Katherine the Curst'

A title for a maid, of all titles the worst."

This quote reflects what most of Padua thinks of Kate and the name given to her by the town's people, she is known by every one to

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