Essay on Courtship and Marriage in 'The Taming of the Shrew'

Essay on Courtship and Marriage in 'The Taming of the Shrew'

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Discuss Shakespeare’s Presentation of Courtship and Marriage in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

In this comedy about relationships between the sexes, Shakespeare conveys many characters as seeing courtship and marriage as sport and presents a society in which many view marriage as a business transaction for the gain of land or money. The play is also used to create a satire of unacceptable male attitudes in Shakespearian society through themes of kingship, power and supremacy.

A major theme throughout The Taming of the Shrew is that of game playing. One way this is presented is through the rivalry of Bianca’s three suitors, Gremio, Hortensio and Lucentio. This rivalry becomes apparent as they compete for Bianca’s hand in marriage, which they seem to see as a prize which they must win. This is also a source of humour through physical comedy as an audience see two young men competing with an older character for the hand of a beautiful young woman. In act one scene two Hortensio describes Lucentio as “the rival of my love”, the fact that he describes him as a “rival” suggests that he believes that the task of wooing Bianca for his bride is merely a sport, a competition which he must win by facing the other contestants in the game. This could also suggest that he does not see the old Gremio as a threat in his attempt to woo Bianca as he is referring to a single “rival” rather than two rivals. As the rivalry persists Lucentio says that “whate’er I read to her, I’ll plead for you”. Although Lucentio says that he will mention Gremio whilst he uses his disguise to teach Bianca this is a lie as he does not want to undermine his own opportunities for flirtation. He is simply making Gremio believe that he is helping him so that the competi...

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...control in the marriage are once again shown as Shakespeare uses animalistic imagery to convey Petruchio’s thoughts of Katherina. This presents Petruchio as a man who takes pleasure in being in control. Petruchio seems to treat Katherina as an animal which he has been set the task to train as she is described as “my falcon” which portrays her as both his possession and an animal showing his need to be constantly in control. Animalistic imagery is also used when Petruchio bets on the “obedience” of his wife, the use of the word “obedience” is strange as someone would not usually use that word to describe another human, it is as if he is describing a dog or some other pet. This imagery is important as it shows that Petruchio’s character feels that he has the same control over his wife as he does over animals and that he thinks his wife a lesser species than him.

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