Taming Of The Shrew

Taming Of The Shrew In Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, the author uses a variety of characters portraying all different types of mankind to show a general view of life. The reader directly relates to the conflicts in the plot, and using a mixture of both comedy and irony, Shakespeare is able to obtain an emotional, not critical, response from the audience. G. B. Harrison summarized this writing style by Shakespeare by stating, “When we try to analyze the universality of Shakespeare, we find that he is not particularly original as a thinker, nor is he the only English writer. Others, in various ways, have written poetry as memorable.

But he is the most universal of all, because he is the wisest; that is, he can understand and sympathize more than any other men. He can see the whole picture of humanity and re-create it so that men of every kind, country, creed, and generation understand. Knowing humanity as no one else ever did, he is nevertheless neither a mocking nor a weeping philosopher. He views life with zest, and he is so great that he can refrain from moral judgements.” When Harrison states that Shakespeare is “the most universal of all,” he means that the characters represented in Shakespeare’s plays are represented and understood by all people of society, especially the characters in The Taming of the Shrew. A common feeling felt by many children in society is negligence or favoritism by their parents.

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Bianca, the younger of two daughters of Baptista, is presented as a young, modest girl with an angelic appearance. Baptista is directly seen as a biased father who shows favoritism towards his daughter, Bianca. In Scene I of Act I, Baptista portrays this favoritism by stating, “And so, farewell Katherina, you may stay for I have to commune with Bianca,” and discarding Katherina as a piece of garbage and showing no concern (Shakespeare 103-104). Many times people will become selfish and resort to deceit to obtain their own desires. Another character who plays a common man in society is Lucentio, a young man from Pisa, who will go to all extremes to obtain Bianca’s love.

Lucentio orders his servant, Tranio, to act as a suitor in pursuit of Bianca as well to distract the attention of the other suitors in order to give Lucentio a change to gain Bianca’s love. In Scene I of Act I, Lucentio declares to Tranio, “If thou ask me why, sufficeth my reasons are both good and weighty” (Shakespeare 250-253). Lucentio plays a game of trickery and takes on a false identity to benefit his own desire of gaining Bianca’s love. Shakespeare uses other common characters such as Lucentio and Biance in The Taming of the Shrew so that all people of society can relate to the feeling of the characters in the play. Harrison also declares that Shakespeare, “can understand and sympathize more than any other men.” Katherine, the older daughter of Baptista, is viewed as a cold-hearted shrew lacking emotion and the expected reaction of the reader is disgust.

However, Shakespeare refrains from this stereotype and rather creates a sense of pity for Kate reasoning that her stubborn behavior was a cause of her father’s negligence. Katherine herself displays this feeling in Scene I of Act II when she proclaims, “Bianca is your treasure, she must have a husband; talk not to me, I will go sit and weep till I can find occasion for revenge.” Kate also predicts she will become an old witch because of Baptista’s favoritism (Shakespeare 36-40). Shakespeare reverses a similar misconception with the character of Petruchio, who takes on the task of taming Kate. In his methods of taming Kate, Petruchio often starves and scolds her and is perceived as a “villain.” However, in Scene I of Act IV, Petruchio states, “this is a way to kill a wife with kindness” (Shakespeare 206). Petruchio means that he will tame his wife like a falcon, using her exact drastic behavior, but only for the benefit of her future. Once again, Shakespeare changes the audience’s stereotypical, expected response. Instead, the audience favors all characters, excluding a single hero in the play. In the final line of his quote, Harrison declares that Shakespeare “views life with zest, and he is so great that he can refrain from moral judgements,” which is evident in The Taming of the Shrew.

In an ironical and comical combination of both subplots, Shakespeare joins all the characters together in the final scene and each character finds love, in their separate ways, suggesting Shakespeare’s appreciation for life’s intended path. He does not judge any of the characters, but rather reflects their character shifts based on their past actions. In Scene V of Act IV, Kate states, “Be it moon, or sun, or what you please, I vow it shall be so for me” (Shakespeare 17-19). This is the point in the play where Kate is finally tamed and shows her emotions and respect towards her husband, Petruchio. Shakespeare neither mocks nor weeps at Kate’s outcome, and plainly states that even though she was once a shrew, her love has been unlocked by that special someone indicating Shakespeare’s zest for life. William Shakespeare is a classic English writer who is universal, understanding, and has a keen knowledge of humanity which makes his plays so unique.

In The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare is able to connect all these aspects of his writing and manipulate the reader’s attention so that a fondness towards the characters is exerted rather than criticism and moral judgements. Bibliography WORKS CITED Harrison, G. B. Shakespeare, Major Plays and the Sonnets. Michigan: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1958. Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1963. Theater Essays.


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