Shakespeare's Presentation of the Female Character in the Taming of the Shrew

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Shakespeare's Presentation of the Female Character in the Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew explores the role of women in

Elizabethan times. Shakespeare uses many themes and imagery in the

play and this essay intends to explore how Shakespeare presents the

female character in the Taming of the Shrew.

The Elizabethans believed that a peaceful and tamed house wife was a

good wife. This view is supported by The goodie and the Baddie an

Elizabethan text giving advice on how to be a good wife.

“…she is a comfort of calamity…she is her husbands down bed…a saint

in her heart…”

Shakespeare in the Taming of the Shrew uses the idea of good and bad

wife with Kate and Bianca. Kate seems to be the opposite of a perfect

wife, “To cart her rather! She’s too rough for me” Gremio speaking to

Baptista unfairly about Kate saying that she acts no better than a

prostitute, Bianca, Shakespeare develops as being the perfect wife.

“Sir to your pleasure…” Bianca is seen as the perfect. She in act one

is seemingly attentive and polite playing the part of a good

Elizabethan women, she wants the good things in life however may later

on we see she may not be so keen to give back to her husband. “the

more fool you for laying on my duty…” she offends Lucentio calling him

stupid for betting on her, she may seem tamed but she is hiding a

shrewish interior.

Petruchio has seemingly tamed Kate, winning her over and turning her

into a perfect wife. Kate throughout the play does not get her own

way, neither does she get the last word, she is constantly

overshadowed by men. Kate at the end of the play finally gets to

express her opinio...

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...ion into

a perfect wife is too quick

Throughout the Taming of the Shrew women are perceived as second class

citizens, constantly talked down to by men and in the case of

Petruchio only married because of the dowry. Shakespeare presents

women as both of the above, but I believe he is intentions was to

demonstrate how women were treated in Elizabethan society. Shakespeare

uses imagery to show how misunderstood women were by men and disguise

as an idea of how real life marriage. Throughout the play we believe

Kate to be the shrew however with her last speech it leaves the

audience’s opinion changed and possibly favouring Kate but ridiculing

Bianca, due the use of disguise. Shakespeare’s use of these two forms

of imagery presents women in a realistic way which is hidden with the

many plays in the Taming of the Shrew.
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