In The Taming of the Shrew, the concept of love is a means of emotional manipulation, and manipulation is nothing more than a means of control between men and women. William Shakespeare critiques the patriarchal social structure by ironically employing the manipulative stance Petruchio takes towards winning Katherine as his wife by charming her with words and manipulating her psychologically, and then taming her after their marriage through legal, physical, financial, and psychological control and manipulation. Though Petruchio may think he yields power over his wife, Katherine uses obedience as a tool of manipulation and has the control of the household, as can be seen by her ironic speech at the end of the play, where she claims women must serve their men. Shakespeare uses the irony of a man using manipulation as a tool for control to magnify the significance of the power women yield through manipulation, thus proving that men and women engage in a power-shifting struggle.
By charming her with kind words, Petruchio is able to manipulate Katherine into marriage and woo her, but in an unaccustomed way, as Kate is not used to men being so nice and direct with her. Petruchio is able to achieve this end by manipulating Katherine’s words. He twists what Kate says and makes it seem as if she is coming on to him sexually, while in reality he is the one implying the sexual innuendo. This manipulation can be seen when they have an argument about whether or not the wasp carries his sting on his tail or tongue, and Petruchio says “What, with my tongue in your tail? Nay, come again, good Kate. I am a gentleman—” (II, 1; 230-231). By contorting the words he ...
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...ironic use of manipulation before and after the wedding, Petruchio is able to tame Kate. Or so he thinks. The only real change is that Kate agrees with him, but she only does this to get her way. Therefore she is manipulating him by pretending that he has been able to tame her. He has not tamed her, because she also utilizes the art of manipulation. Before, Kate’s only defense against patriarchy is to be outspoken; now, she negotiates her own sense of power within patriarchy by using manipulation. Shakespeare’s critic of the patriarchal social structure is therefore just, because not only are women denied the same legal power as men, but their manipulative power is also disregarded and considered a weakness. Therefore women are not to be blamed for utilizing this powerful form of control, because that is what the patriarchal social structure forces them into.
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