The Role of Women in Challenging the Status Quo in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew

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The Role of Women in Challenging the Status Quo in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew The female characters of Shakespearean literature inspire much controversy over their roles. Many critics assert the female characters are depicted as unreal portrayals of passive women. Other critics argue that the roles portrayed were considered normal for the period in which they took place. During the period of the Enlightenment, many social norms changed and evolved. One such norm was the position of women in society. Queen Elizabeth was a controversial female in power during Shakespeare?s life and challenged all traditional thinking. In The Taming of the Shrew, Katherine (Kate) is the controversial female character. The comedy is about Kate, a strong-willed woman, whom is expected to conform to the unwritten rules of the late 16th century society. There are many aspects of her character that can be interpreted in more than one-way, such as her attitude, appearance, and actions. Many critique the true motivation for Kate?s actions. Kate is not tamed within the play but liberated, taught to love, and taught how to enjoy life. Kate is stubborn, harsh, and cruel at the beginning of the play. When Hortensio describes her to Petruccio he calls her shrewd, ill-favoured, an intolerable-curst, and a froward (I.2.ll. 57, 85-86). It is questionable however that all these names are true. Hortensio holds pretenses against Kate for she stands between her sister, Bianca, and any suitor. Such a dame intrigues Petruccio that she may offer him a challenge, and she is wealthy. Kate?s actions and attitude have never been challenged before she met Petruccio. Everyone she knows has always been afraid of her and the only way she knows to ge... ... middle of paper ... ...r to Kate. They all choose to take a different path than the one society expects of them. Many of the females are like this because of the period in which Shakespeare lived. The age of Enlightenment was very much dedicated to the concepts of choice and free will. In Shakespearean literature the self is promoted rather than public image in both male and female characters. Shakespeare made Kate the way the audience wanted her to be. The people came to plays to escape daily life, wanting to be pulled into the deception of the theatre. They wanted to forget their problems and imagine being one of the characters onstage. Kate was a character that showed courage, assertiveness, and passion. These are all traits possessed by very few women of the era. Kate?s character and Queen Elizabeth herself enticed women to become the unexpected and challenge the status quo.

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