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 man, while the other sister is the center of attention for all male suitors within a 100-mile radius and enjoys the devotion. Although the play begins with men chasing after Bianca’s hand in marriage, Katherine will be the forced to get married; without Katherine getting married Bianca would never have a chance at love. The pressure of love leads to the unveiling of masks to see characters true feelings and emotions; this theme is a common occurrence in Shakespeare’s plays. But what makes Katherine a unique character, not only in Taming of the Shrew but also out of all of Shakespeare’s plays, is that she is an outspoken woman who hides behind no masks and constantly shows her true self, just her genuine feelings and emotions are expressed. Katherine’s personality drastically changes from the beginning to the end and we are going to investigate and unweave why this happens.
The reputation Katherine is known for at the beginning of the play is a wild tempered, and even referred to as “hell” itself by Grumio in Act I Scene 1 line 112. This fierce front scares away even the boldest suitors, making Bianca seem like an angel in comparison and her father seemingly desperate to wed such a brusque daughter. The requirement to have Katherine married off before Bianca could even start courting created a rush amongst the suitors to find a daring man for such a vicious woman. This is where Petruchio comes to play, he is a man in search of a wife that comes with an enormous dowry. Petruchio sees Katherine as a challenge, an animal to tame. At their first conversation she is flabbergasted by his admiring wooing which sometimes included blunt rudeness then ended in a betrothal, offering no way out of the demand. Of course her father was ecstatic about the engagement but Katherine had choice words for the whole situation. When Petruchio told her father they wished to get married on Sunday, Katherine’s response was “I'll see thee hang'd on Sunday first”. Even though she was just flattered then mocked by this strangely determined man, she was sure that her life was not going to intertwine with his if she had anything to say about the situation. But Petruchio continued to slither his way into Katherine’s life and managed to establish the wedding without Katherine’s further objection. She realizes no matter what she says, how much she refuses or all of the protesting she can do, none of this will stop her inferiority to the men in her life so she becomes silent.
After the two were married, it became quite clear to Katherine that her obedience to Petruchio is the only way she will win over his love and her possibility of happiness. After they leave for his country house before their wedding feast, which is when he tells her that she is now his property and that he may do with her as he pleases, Petruchio continues his process of “taming” Katherine. The ways he does this by keeping her from eating or sleeping for several days but wiles her by saying that he must do all of these things because loves her too much to subject her to his low quality food or his improperly made bed. Katherine listens to what Petruchio has to say and often tries to out wit him, but by the end of their stay at the country house she had realized she needs to obey whatever her husband would say. She even went as far as to agreeing that the sun is the moon and that an old man is really a beautiful young maiden when she clearly knew better. Katherine adapts for her survival, knowing that there is no one but herself who can help her in this new marriage as well as the rest of her life. Her father desired nothing more than her wedded off, her own sister despising her true self, and no other suitor fit to marry her. She had to compromise by marrying a overly confident, sweet talking, gold digger who was not after her love and affect but challenged by her lack of obedience to the status quo of the woman in society.
The last event in the play that shows the transformation of wild Katherine to tame Katherine occurs at the dinner feast of Hortensio’s wedding. Throughout the night the guests are bewildered and surprised of the disciplined and respectful woman Katherine has turned into because of her husband. The newly wedded men decide it would be amusing to stage a contest to see which of their wives will obey first when summoned, they were completely shocked when Katherine was the first to quickly come to her husband’s beckon. Then to even publicize her detest to women who are not appreciative towards their husbands, she lectured on how the wife should be eternally grateful to all that husbands do for their wives while the women have so little to give back to show their gratitude. So, a woman must promise her life and love to her husband forever for all of the hard work that a man does for her to keep her alive, healthy and happy. These long and elaborate speech not only scorned the other social adapted wives, but opened the eyes to all the people in the room that Katherine had gone from a bitter, cruel and even heartless woman to a one that understood her role in life as a woman and, more importantly, as a wife. This change occurred because Katherine saw the strict lifestyle of society that she must obey by, and instead of masking her true self like other characters in this play, she altered her skills to focus on her husband and the future she has with him. Instead of saying everything that she thinks or feels, she has to filter what she is allowed to say as a tame wife. I do believe that Petruchio tamed her, meaning that he hid her wild side so that her true social beauty can show. She is a captivating speaker, the topics that she discussed merely had to be readjusted to be socially acceptable. I believe that Katherine is just as fierce as she ever was, but now she knows a new found strength that was discovered when she married Petruchio. She has the power to be the person her husband wants, obedient, as well as the person she truly is, a born speaker. In the end, both are happy and they even leave the banquet to retire to bed to celebrate their triumphant victory in establishing a future together not only in society but also in their relationship. Petruchio tamed his once wild wife, and Katherine is a strong woman who is committed to her husband as well as herself.