Sexism in The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare

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Sexism is an ever changing concept in today’s world. Every day the concept morphs a little bit, changing the entire definition of what is sexist and what is not. In The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, the male characters lie to and abuse their women in order to have the women marry them. Lucentio come to Padua to study, but when he sees a beautiful girl, he pretends to be a teacher in order to marry Bianca. Petruchio on the other hand forces a woman to marry him and then trains her to follow his every command. Although the The Taming of the Shrew is frequently regarded as a particularly sexist play, it is not sexist and demeaning towards women. Women’s rights are a household topic that has been around for the better part of the last century in America, however back when the play was written, women’s rights were unheard of. So when Petruchio didn’t let Kate eat or sleep after they eloped (IV.iii.47-48) “The poorest service is repaid with thanks, and so shall mine before you touch the meat.” Petruchio is controlling everything that Kate is doing, which includes whether she eats or not which is sexist nowadays, but back in the 16th century, it was normal behavior. Petruchio could possibly just be trying to get his woman the best food possible, or in the case of his wedding, the best tailored clothes for Kate. Petruchio brings in a tailor for his wedding, and when the dress doesn’t live up to his expectations, he lets the tailor know (IV.iii.113-121) “O monstrous arrogance!... that thou hast marred her gown.” Petruchio cares so much about getting everything for his wife to be perfect that he does not let one thing fall out of line for his wedding preparations. These things could be taken as sexist acts; however they were just acts... ... middle of paper ... play, it is not sexist and demeaning towards women. Petruchio, Hortensio, and Lucentio may have bet on their wives compliance in some eyes, but after further analysis, they were actually betting on the trust between the couple. The reader must also take into account the time period the play was written in which was the 16th century, where women were usually not even allowed to go to school to be educated, and Bianca was having private tutors for her education. Kate was changed by Petruchio’s “taming” from the beginning to the end of the play, but at the end of the novel when Kate was called upon and made her speech, she was the happiest she had been in the entire story. There are however some sexist elements in the story, but just because there are certain characteristics of sexism in a play does not mean the play in itself is sexist and demeaning towards women.
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