The Taming of the Shrew

Powerful Essays
The Taming of the Shrew

Examine the different ways in which Shakespeare presents the attitude towards marriage in the play, ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies, and it shares many essential characteristics with his other romantic comedies, such as Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These characteristics include light-hearted and slapstick humour, disguises and deception and a happy ending in which most of the characters come out satisfied. The play has been dated from as early as 1594 and as late as 1598. (

The main themes in the play are love, marriage, domination, society expectations, betting and money. Does love really exist in the play or is it just love for money.

It seems that the key to a happy and successful marriage is money. This comedy written by Shakespeare uses disguises and that also is a key part to the play. Although it is intended to be a comedy, there is sometimes a black cloud hanging over it. For instance the way in which Katherina is treated doesn’t always seem to be funny; instead it is quite cruel and degrading. “She eat no meat today, nor none shall eat; last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not.” (Page 62, act 4 scene 1 line 182-183)

Men saw marriage as a way to get rich; love didn’t even enter the equation. Padua is a rich area and therefore many suitors fled there in the hope of becoming wealthy. “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua,” says Petruchio. He asks outright, “Then tell me – if I get your daughter’s love, what dowry shall I have with her to wife?” (Page 37, act 2 scene 1, line 119-120) The husbands were given a dowry by the father of the daughter when they became married. Women didn’t have any say in who they chose to marry; instead the decision was given to the father. If a daughter was not married then they were looked shoddily upon within the society. In this era every woman was to be married otherwise they were frowned upon within the community. Further more without Katherina getting married, Bianca would also never marry. Within a family the eldest daughter must be married off first and in this play turned out to be a bonus. “Her father keeps from all access of suitors and will not promise her to any man until her elder sister first be wed.” This is the main an...

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.... She now obeys what is asked of her by Petruchio like such as when she is told to lecture the other wives about how to be a good wife, “Katherina, I charge thee, tell these headstrong women, what duty they do owe their lords and husbands.” Without arguing and saying a word against what is asked of her she gives her advice, “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee.”

Women in the Elizabethan era were presented as very obedient to their husbands and respectful to them also. They had no power and no say, they were treated badly and nothing would be done to stop the behaviour. In modern society most women have as much say as the men, they are not expected to stay at home and clean etc, and instead they go to work as well. Some women are like Katherina before she was supposedly tamed, very out spoken, yet inequality still exists.

During the Elizabethan era marriage was like a business contract, if the money is there then so is the signature. Love was never a part of the play and this showed in both Hortensio and Petruchio, who Shakespeare uses to expose this superficial approach to the supposedly romantic notion of marriage.
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