Katharina in Taming of the Shrew

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The Character of Katharina in Taming of the Shrew

In Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, the character that has caused much debate and discussion has been Katharina, the shrew. The topic has usually been whether she was tamed, liberated, or whether she was just a good enough actress to make everyone think she was tamed. In this essay, I will present arguments for and against each of these points, as well as discuss one television adaptation of Taming of the Shrew that presents Katharina not as the expected shrew, but as Petruchio's tamer.

Katharina: The Whipped Shrew

There is evidence that supports Katharina was tamed by Petruchio. For instance, in the opening of the play, Katharina is very vocal and aggressive. Men, women and children trembled whenever she came around, including her father and sister. By the end of the play, however, she is presented as being mild and submissive to Petruchio, leading up to her greatest speech in the dialogue of the play:

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,

And for thy maintenance commits his body

To painful labour both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks and true obedience;

Too little payment for so great a debt. (5.2.146-154)

In looking at this outtake of Katharina's speech, it can be seen that she has been...

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