Desire in The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare

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People have always gone out of their way to obtain what they desire in their life. Whether this obsession is out of greed or true necessity, a person will go to great lengths to achieve it. In the novel, The Taming of the Shrew, written by William Shakespeare, we find this trait present within the characters: Lucentio, Hortensio, Gremio, Petruchio, and Katherine. Each of these characters has their own motivation behind their actions in this story.

Hortensio and Lucentio each wish to woo Bianca and take her as their bride. Hortensio, in an effort to secretly pursue the young woman, dons the appearance of a music teacher who goes by the name of Litio. After having shared information with Petruchio about Katherine, he requests that Petruchio “offer me disguised in sober robes/to old Baptista as a schoolmaster” (1.2.133-134). By going about this method, he hopes to be able to win Bianca’s affection, supposedly without the competition or pressures from other suitors. Unfortunately for Hortensio, Lucentio, another suitor with plans of marrying Bianca, has the same mindset. He asks his servant Tranio to “Uncase thee. Take my colored hat and cloak” (1.1.213). Lucentio then disguises himself as well and becomes another tutor named Cambio. He entrusts his identity to his loyal servant Tranio who readily becomes the new Lucentio. Not knowing the identity or true motives of the other supposed teacher, Hortensio and Lucentio immediately encounter obstacles within each other in trying to win over Bianca. The example these two suitors have set only shows the capability desire has of driving people to extreme measures.

Petruchio serves as another example. In his case, while he also has plans to marry one of Baptista’s daughters...

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... Petruchio, he instead ridicules her for being foolish enough to think the man was a young woman. Katherine is a representation of yet another reason as to why desire can overtake a person’s judgment.

Some of the story’s characters do in fact achieve their desires. However, they may not appear as how they imagined them. Lucentio does marry Bianca, and Hortensio to a widow, but both of their wives are revealed to be shrews themselves. Petruchio still does not appear to treat Katherine with the respect she deserves, yet they have shared a kind moment once or twice. No matter the outcome of each individual pursuing his or her desire. Each of their judgments were overcome and clouded by the force that is desire.

Sources Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York, Washington Square Press, 1992. Print.
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