In order to understand her undesirable yet empowering character, it is best to look at various peoples descriptions of her. In act two scene one, Petruchio describes Katherine just before meeting her. In a conversation with her father, Baptista, Petruchio announces that “hearing of her beauty and her wit, Her affability and bashful modesty, Her wondrous qualities and mild behavior” (2.1.48-50) he needed to come meet the woman who intrigued him so much. Baptista reacts to this description of Katherine by explaining that this description is not his daughter, however, he is still welcome to meet this woman. The reader, having only briefly met Katherine at this point, knows quite well that she is not the woman he is describing. She is beautiful and witty, however she is by no means bashful, affable, or mild. She is wild, loud, and unafraid to speak her mind. A good elizabethan woman is none of the latter qualities and embodies all of the former.
Her character is distasteful to the men in her life, yet something her sister and other women in the play admire. She is not a good housewife i...
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...woman in charge, what she says is the law.
Following the speech the men congratulate Petruchio in taming such a woman. Yet he has not achieved this. Katherine built up an illusion of a tamed wife to give herself the upper hand. She showed Petruchio what he wanted to see while still staying true to herself and her character. Allowing her husband to think he is her superior while she is still the same wild Kate allows her to influence him to do her bidding.
The character of Kate is undesirable to men, she is not a typical elizabethan woman, or elizabethan wife. However, she is a strong, independent woman in a time where women like that were sparse. She inspired other women to stand up for themselves and be independent. Shakespeare shows this through his development of multiple different characters and the overarching theme of taming and Petruchio’s failure to do so.
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