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Breaking Kate's Spirit in Taming of the Shrew

In the play Taming of the Shrew, a man named Petruchio attempts to tame a mean spirited woman named Kate. Much to Kate's chagrin Petruchio convinces her father that Kate loves him so they will now be married. Through several maneuvers to try and squash Kate's pride, Petruchio is met with strong resistance at first when he finds she can equal him in verbal back and forth. The fact that Petruchio could match Kate surprises her as well. Eventually, Kate sarcastically gives in with her speech about the sun and moon on the way to her sister's wedding. Finally after all his calculating moves throughout Petruchio successfully breaks Kate's spirit which is evident in her final speech.

Petruchio undertakes to woo Kate before he has met her. He decides to recommend himself to her father as the dominant male that could tame her: "And so she yields to me. For I am rough and woo not like a babe."(II.I.136-137) Petruchio reports to Baptista that it is a match. Conclusively, he refuses any further discussion of the matter. If Petruchio were to speak more of the truth then his strategy to woo Kate may be revealed. His domineering attitude has limited Kate to express her thoughts of the situation.

From the moment Petruchio sets foot in her room, Kate is most abrasive towards him. Kate makes an effort to assert her dominance by developing a shrewish attitude. They engage in a lengthy verbal duel with elaborate puns. "If be waspish, best beware my sting."(II.I.209) Kate's puns are generally insulting or threatening, but Petruchio twists them into sexual innuendo. His persistence in breaking her spirit causes Kate to become more conniving.

Petruchio has employed a hawking metaphor to describe how he has begun his reign over Kate. "My falcon now is sharp and passing empty. And till she stoop she must not be full-gorg'd, for then she never looks up her lure. Another way I have to man my haggard, To make her come, and know her keeper's call, That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites That bate and beat, and will not be obedient.
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