The Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew shows two sisters: Katherina and Bianca, as two complete contrasts to each other. He used various techniques to achieve these effects. The same techniques are used for both sisters to show comparisons between their characters. Shakespeare created two different characters by making the outcome of the techniques very different from each other. Shakespeare has used the theme of deception and disguise and based the play on the idea that things are not always as they seem. One of the techniques used is presentation of the two girls based on their behaviour and speech.

The oldest of the sisters is Katherina who is otherwise known as Kate. At her first entrance in Act 1 Scene 1 she threatens to hit Hortensio over the head with a stool: “comb your noddle with a three-legged stool”. This is because they have been making snide remarks about her such as Gremio says, “to cart her! She’s too rough for me”; meaning that she should be taken in an open cart and ridden down the streets, like a convicted prostitute, because she is not like the ideal Elizabethan woman and people are ashamed of her.

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The Shakespearean audience had the idea of a perfect woman. They should only speak when spoken to, be polite and do everything to suit their husband. This is completely the opposite of Katherina as she thinks that she has to stand up for herself all of the time and this is why the men always make snide comments about her, to her or loudly so that she can hear. By her threatening Hortensio she is being very aggressive and harsh.

However Bianca’s behaviour is presented completely differently. From the minute that she comes into the scene she is polite, meek and mild. Her first speech tells you what she is like; or what she comes across as being like; “Sister content you in my discontent. Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe. My books and instruments will be my company, on them to look and practice by myself. ” This is where Baptista, Bianca’s father says that she cannot have suitors until Kate is married.

She comes back with the reply of her books and instruments will be all that matter to her and that she will practice and read by herself. She acts sweetly in front of her father. This is a technique that is used to carry on with the theme of deception and disguise as you will see later on in the play. Bianca is presented as the ideal woman opposed to Kate who is not. The difference is that Bianca does what she is told when she is told to do it, and all Kate does is answer back with violence or shouting.

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