Claustraphobia in The Taming of The Shrew and The Tragedy of Mariam

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The taming of the Shrew and The tragedy of Mariam, both embody the misogynistic claustrophobic nature of the Renaissance society, through elucidating the psychological suffocation of their female protagonists. This essay will focalise on how the claustrophobia illustrated, within both plays, is parallel to that which the sixteenth century women suffered. Predominant notions explored will be: the suffocating expectations of society, the role, and contribution of males to said suffocation, the utilisation of confined space, and lastly the restrictions implemented on the voice of women. A range of critics will be engaged, in order to grasp different vantage points and opinions, qualifying an adept realistic understanding of the texts, applying both texts, in their original society, as well as the modern.

The suffocating expectations of society are perhaps the central foundation to the claustrophobia formed. Similarly, both Katherine and Mariam’s actions are perceived as a woman’s transgression of ‘moral codes’ and social conventions within the Renaissance society, both are condemned for them. Mariam eventually meets a more tragic fate although, one could argue that Mariam, even if it is through death, is at least liberated, Katherine, on the other hand, must continue to live in suffocation.

The ‘too rough’ character of Katherine, is displaced within society, and isolated in the domestic space. (Shakespeare, 1982:109) She disappoints in conforming to the mould of a demure obedient maiden, and is thus rejected by her society. Her ‘shrewish’ behaviour leaves her to be deemed incompetent to marry, or be accepted as a woman, as she is not of a ‘gentler, milder, mould.’ (Shakespeare, 1982:109) Crocker highlights that, a shrew ‘is ...

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... Library in association with George Washington University. Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/2870547.

Crocker, A, C. ( 2003) ‘Affective Resistance: Performing Passivity and Playing a-Part in The Taming of the Shrew’, Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/384417

Heller, L, J. (2005) ‘Space, Violence, and Bodies in Middleton and Cary’, Rice University. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3844552.

Miller, N, J. (1997) ‘Domestic Politics in Elizabeth Cary's The Tragedy of Mariam’,Rice University. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/450838.

Korda,N. (1996) ‘Household Kates: Domesticating Commodities in The Taming of the Shrew’,Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2871098.

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