William Shakespeare was a man ahead of his time, in his words, in his actions and in his notions, including his stance on feminism. His play, The Taming of the Shrew, demonstrates his views on women and the views of the male-dominant Italian society. Even though Katherine and Bianca live in a society dominated by men, they are still successful in retaining their independence as women. The sisters are able to remain independent from their father, their husbands and the men around them who all are given authority over them. Though examining the two characters’ actions to gain independence, on can recognize Shakespeare’s views on feminism and its impact to the society.
In order to secure herself and her independence in the society, Katherine willingly submits herself to Petruchio’s notion of the ideal wife. Katherine has transformed from a “curst” shrew, violent and savage, to a gentle and soft-spoken woman. Katherine’s soliloquy in Act V, scene ii proves the effectiveness of Katherine’s change in perspectives. Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper | Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee... But love, fair looks and true obedience- | Too little payment for so great a debt... My mind hath been as one of yours, | My heart as great, my reason haply more... And place your hand below your husband’s food; | In token of which duty, if he please, | My hand is ready, may it do him ease. (Shakespeare V ii, ll. 152 - 195)
Her obedience and trust can definitely be perceived from the soliloquy, and it is these acts of obedience that has gained her her freedom. She earned Petruchio’s trust, in turn, she is able to do as she likes as long as she is faithful to him. With this transformation, Katherine is also aware of her social standings as a wife of a wealthy gentleman. Her new social position allows her to effectively order about the servants and people of lesser social standings. She is able to retain her independence with the power to command, even as...
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