top-rated free essay

Marriage as an Economic Institution: Taming of the Shrew

By dratilhelvete Apr 25, 2014 803 Words
Marriage as an economic institution

The famous play “The Taming of the Shrew” written by William Shakespeare consists of a funny and interesting plot that must have challenged Shakespeare's contemporaries' way of thinking. We are presented with a number of different themes, such as gender roles, the power of language, female submissiveness and the economic aspects of marriage. The following text is an elaboration and reflection on the latter.

The story of «The Taming of the Shrew» revolves around a young man, Petruchio, and a relatively young woman, Katharina, and their relationship and marriage. In that way, one can consider the story a romantic comedy. However, there are several remarkable differences between typical romantic comedies and this unique play.

Romantic comedies typically involve a young couple falling in love and ultimately marrying each other. The intimate feelings between the two are described in detail throughout the plot. When the couple marries, the plot is usually at its end. Humourous lines and dialogues are essential to the comedic part of the genre. A typical ending would consist of two united or reconciled lovers. The story always ends happily.

This is certainly not the case in «The Taming of the Shrew». Many aspects are very similar, like the humorous lines and dialogues. And although the emotions of the characters are mentioned, they are not highlighted in the same scale as regular romantic comedies. Neither does the story end with the marriage and a «happily ever after» - it continues! But the most significant difference might perhaps be the emphasis on the economic aspects of marriage. All the proposers in the plot – there are several of them – more or less bribe the father of the girl they wish to marry with assurances that they are of wealth and high social status, and although some of the men might have genuine feelings towards the girl, it seems irrelevant whether the girl shares those feelings.

The prime example of such a relationship is the one between Petruchio and the uncontrollable and tempered Katherina. Since she is the oldest of two daughters, she has to be married away quickly, because her younger sister, Bianca, is not allowed a husband until her older sister has found one. The problem is that nobody wants anything to do with Katherine because of her brutish and mean personality. Luckily for Bianca and her numerous proposers, a man with the taste for business shows up – Petruchio. This man is not at all attracted to Katherine, but he does not find that necessary. He is still compelled to marry her after hearing word of her wealth. After discussing with her father Baptista – against Katherine's own will – the father agrees to the wedding, and the marriage is arranged and held. In this marriage, the female is made out to be little more than a commodity to be traded between father and proposer.

In the 15-1600s, arranged marriages were still common also in Europe. It is not odd, then, that Shakespeare chooses this as a theme in his play. It is quite evident that he himself opposed arranged and “corrupted” marriages. We see this in the way he portrays the different characters, dealing out a good portion of sympathy to the women. Because of Shakespeare’s perhaps unusually female-friendly attitude relative to his contemporaries, some have even come to the conclusion that he was a feminist!

In today's world, millions of women are being married away regardless of their will – often to men they do not even know. In Western society, the problem of forced marriage is almost non-existent. This is due to the radical change in our ideals and way of thinking during the past few centuries. Today it is out of the question that fathers should decide who their daughters can marry, and the ideal of individual freedom stands stronger than ever. However, arranged marriages are prevalent in other parts of the world, and are still widely accepted among the populations of many countries especially in the East and South.

Overall, the theme is in my opinion just as relevant today as it was back then. Even though western women today are free to choose their own husband (or even wife in some countries..), our sisters in parts of the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia as well as Latin America still lack this freedom. My world does not only consist of Norwegian or European women, and I see no difference between them and Indian or Afghan women. Unless and until forced “business” marriages are extinguished, this theme is by all means still relevant and important.

Sources:

Book: «The Taming of the Shrew» (Shakespeare, 1590-1592)
Website: http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/shrew/themes.html (17. sep 2013) Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arranged_marriage (17. sep 2013) Website: http://www.shmoop.com/taming-of-the-shrew/petruchio.html (19. sep 2013)

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Taming of the Shrew

    ...Taming of the Shrew: Investigation of Katherine Taming of the Shrew is focused on two sisters during their exploration of courting and eventually marriage. These two sisters, named Bianca and Katherine, have polar opposite personalities. One sister does not even consider the possibility of spending the rest of her life tied to a controlling ...

    Read More
  • Taming of the Shrew

    ...Taming of the Shrew and 10 things I hate about you Taming of the Shrew is a famous play written by William Shakespeare. In the modern day version, 10 things I hate about you, Gil Junger explores the relationship between men and women. Junger has taken Shakespeare’s ideas of favouritism, how looks can be deceptive and a person’s basis fo...

    Read More
  • Taming of the shrew

    ...The Taming of the Shrew The transformation of the aggressively ill-tempered Katharine into a trophy wife has made Shakespeare’s romantic comedy one of his most controversial works. Modern audiences in particular have found fault with this story due to the social injustices that it contains. Despite the controversy, William Shakespeare’s ...

    Read More
  • taming of the shrew

    ...Ben Smith 2nd Semester play review 16 June 2104 The Taming of The Shrew During the play there are 3 men who are trying to woo Bianca, the youngest doughtier of Baptista Minola. Before any of them are aloud to court his younger doughtier they must find a husband for the foul and angry Katherina the eldest doughtier of Minola. Co...

    Read More
  • Taming of the Shrew

    ...Three things that are similar Shakespeare's play “The Taming of the Shrew” demonstrates the themes of transformation, social status and culture; furthermore, these themes are also evident in the movie “10 things I Hate about You”. This prompts readers to consider if these themes affect their lives today, or are just the ramblin...

    Read More
  • How Does Shakespeare Present Marriage in the Taming of the Shrew?

    ...How does Shakespeare present marriage in the Taming of the Shrew? In The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare is using Kate and Petruchio’s relationship to present marriage as something women should not aspire to, this is different to the conventions of other comedies, for example; in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing the two characters dis...

    Read More
  • The Institution of Marriage

    ...The institution of marriage has always been a sensitive subject. What is marriage? According to Merriam Webster, marriage is defined as “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” Do people still believe in this way of traditional marriage? I h...

    Read More
  • Taming of the Shrew

    ...Comedy Conventions Shakespearean plays are often seen as sad or depressing. In "The Taming of the Shrew," Shakespeare takes a somewhat sad topic of a man marrying off his daughters and makes it quite humorous. "The Taming of the Shrew" is about a man named Baptista, who has two daughters, one who is very loud and vicious named Katerina, and ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.