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Sexism In William Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew

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In her publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Femininity, Mary Shelley states, “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves” (Shelley 34). She desires to let women acknowledge that they need to take control of their own lives, and to not rely on a man for their success. This widely unaccepted message is not visible in The Taming of the Shrew. In the late 1590s, around the time William Shakespeare wrote the piece, women were scrutinized as the “weaker sex”, both physically and emotionally. This factor plays a huge contribution in the evident sexism scattered throughout the play. Shakespeare shows this mainly through his main character, Katherine, and through what she endures including an unwanted marriage,…show more content…
She is alluring, kind, serene, and deferential to her suitors and other men. Lucentio woos, “...I achieve not this young modest girl,” (1.1.158) when talking about Bianca because she fits the role of a ‘perfect wife’. To contrast, Katherine is known as the “wild-cat” (1.2.196), suggesting she is both malicious and untameable. People in Padua and beyond are cognizant of Kate’s reputation, and all spread rumors and talk behind her back. When Baptista decides to marry Kate off, nobody deduces that there would be a suitor that can take on a woman like Kate. When her father attempts with all his means to get free of Kate, one man remarks “I would not do it for a pot of gold” (Zeffirelli, William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew). Gremio pronounces that he would preferably take Kate’s dowry without the wife, and instead be “whipt at the high cross every morning” (1.1.132). He would rather be punished in front of everyone in the square market than marry Katherine. She is so undesirable to men because during this time in their society, it was unruly for a woman to be as blunt as Kate is. While Kate sometimes handles situations in the wrong way and is violent, she is the only women in the play that vocalizes the way she feels, and acts how she fancies. Kate is the only one that is testing for female and male equality, yet she is the one that is looked down on, even by other women. Shakespeare conveys how being…show more content…
The male is always superior to the wife, no matter the circumstances. During this time, a woman was expected to obey their husband, and not talk back if they had a different opinion than they did. A husband’s job was to make sure his wife stayed in line, and to provide for the family. At the wedding ceremony, Petruchio proclaims that “[Kate] is my good, my chattels, she is my house, My household stuff, my field, my barn, My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything” (3.2.230–32). Even though Kate is a a person, Petruchio looks down on her, calling her his property. He continues to degrade Kate, for example making Kate look stupid by having her call Vincentio Miss, and doesn’t stop until Bianca and Lucentio’s wedding reception. Katherine confesses, “Such duty as the subject owes the prince, Even such a woman oweth to her husband” (5.2.155–56). She finally bows down to Petruchio, calling him her prince. Even though Kate may have been lying throughout this speech so that Petruchio will have a kid with her and buy her things, it is still when Kate is submissive that he finally treats her like a person.
Today, women are treated a lot different than they were in this time period. Nowadays, people may be fond of Kate’s “hard to get temperament”, and she may charm guys instead of repulsing them. Women now rely on their own hard work, and recognize that they don’t need a spouse to be successful. They are no longer inferior to men, and
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