“Women must be subservient in order to be happy in Shakespearean Comedy” With reference to the presentation of Katherina and Bianca, how far do you agree with this statement.

Topics: The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare, Comedy Pages: 6 (2373 words) Published: November 27, 2013
Subservient means “prepared to obey others unquestioningly” and I believe that both Katherina and Bianca both fit these roles but when and how they fit these roles are different. Subservient women are typical within Shakespearean comedy therefore there are women who are prepared to obey in this comedy, Dr Fores Lopez stated ‘their [men and women in Shakespearean comedies/England] obligations were strictly subdivided. Men were given force and power while women had to content themselves to be obedient and submissive’. This quotation supports the essay title as it suggests that women are subservient. Within this essay, I will highlight both the similarities and differences between the two women using the idea of being subservient and whether this brings them happiness or not. Within Shakespearean comedy, it is typical for there to be a happy ending within it. In a typical Shakespearean comedy ending there is usually a wedding which leads to happiness of all the characters. In the “Taming of the Shrew” this seems to be true if you consider Bianca and Lucentio’s wedding in Act V, Scene I and Kate’s speech in Act V, Scene II thus showing that it ends with a wedding but whether it is happy for the women is not so clear. This is because we’re not so certain that Kate is completely happy with Petruchio especially how he treats her after their wedding where he starves her and deprives her of sleep. Also, we do not know for sure if Bianca is happy or not because she had planned to “elope” or run away against her father’s wishes to be with the real Lucentio thus showing that Bianca and her father’s relationship isn’t as strong as it seems, this shows that shrewish behaviour doesn’t give you happiness but, shown by Kate, subservience does. This also shows that Bianca’s character has changed since Kate’s wedding as before; we wouldn’t think she would elope against her father’s wishes. However, both women can be seen as being happy as there is a reception for the wedding where the couples are all there and are enjoying it as Lucentio states to them [Kate, Petruchio, Hortensio and the Widow] that the reception was a “great good cheer” meaning a ‘splendid reception’. Also, Kate uses the word ‘love’ when she talks about her and Petruchio showing that she is happy with him and so showing that she is happy. Love is a very strong word which shows that she is happy with Petruchio, which means that she is happy at the end. The only way she can be happy is if Petruchio is happy with her but as she is now tamed, he is happy with her. This shows that a typical Shakespearean comical ending is true to the “Taming of the Shrew” because everyone is satisfied; it has ended in a Wedding, Kate declares that she is happy to be obedient to Petruchio. Kate’s character at the beginning of the play is a very untypical character for a woman in Shakespearean comedy. She starts of as an ill-tempered, shrewish character that is a subversion of a typical Shakespearean woman who is normally seen as passive females who are prepared to obey others; Kate goes against this convention of the stock character of a passive woman. However, Kate is introduced as “too rough” and that she should be more “gentler, milder” by Grumio and Hortensio who are Bianca’s suitors. In addition, Kate seems very crude and disrespectful towards her father. “I pray you, sir [Baptista], is it your will to make me stale of me amongst these mates” She states that her father is trying to make her, by the use of ‘stale’, a laughing stock or it can even be seen as selling her off as a prostitute to Bianca’s suitors which in Shakespearean England, this could be seen as adequate due to his younger, more desirable daughter having suitors ready for her. Kate’s character is not subservient and it can be interpreted that if she was like this, the ending wouldn’t be happy for her unless she was subservient in order to have a happy ending. Enotes.com state that “Katherina learns to shape her own identity…...
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