Complex ideas

Petruchio then plots to enforce a respect and intimidation, to “make her come and know her keeper’s call”, and proudly explains how “She ate no eat today, nor none she shall eat. Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not” in his efforts to “kill a wife with kindness And thus I’ll curd her mad and headstrong humour. ” He is confident he shall succeed, and onlookers find these events ironic, such as Peter when he comments that he intends to “kill(s) her in her own humour”.

This all explains Petruchio’s harsh actions, that he intends to show her the results of the way she is, and he must therefore ‘become a shrew to tame a shrew’. Later Kate confides in Grumio how she feels; she seems personally hurt, and very unhappy. She seems deeply wounded and does not at that stage fully understand how this terrible treatment can be justified “under name of perfect love”. On a personal level she is despairing and appears to feel lonely and hopeless. Kate is led to believe that Grumio will provide her with food, but each time withdraws the offer once she accepts, declaring it unfit for her.

She then loses her temper, and though it still happens, it is significantly less so to how she would have reacted previously. It shows her will is breaking, and she is less concerned with her own rights now. It is also interesting that she never hits Petruchio, which could show a fear, respect, love or intimidation in the relationship, which was believed to be healthy in the period of this play’s writing. Resistance was more evident here, but then she was still upset.

The way she still beats him and shows a glimpse of her past shrewish self is a similar device as to used by Shakespeare in other plays such as Macbeth, where he shows a glimpse of what once was but then destroyed just before the end and his fate has been sealed. The audience is reminded of how she used to be, which increases awareness of the changes that have taken place. Shortly after this she is asked to describe her condition, she says she is “as cold as can be”, showing she is less strong, just bitter, annoyed, betrayed and frustrated, since there would have been a time she would have taken the chance to strike out.

Katherina begs Petruchio for food, then thanking him, and she has lost her rudeness and has begun to act to his will. Another occasion, in the tailors, she is again forced to beg for the gown and cap, and this time her opinion goes unheard and undervalued. This continues to break her and helps her to understand that she should be less opinionated, which naturally was a very unfeminine, and thus undesirable feature of that time. On the journey back to visit Baptista, Petruchio tests the value of his opinion when it contradicts her own, the truth.

He tells her the light in the sky is the moon, and she at first challenges it. He then threatens to turn back unless she agrees with him, and so she says it is the moon when it is, in her initial opinion, and in truth, the sun. He then changes his mind and it is the sun, so she says she will say it is whatever he please it is, displaying her lack of independent thought how she now holds his thoughts and opinions above her own, that he can control and dominate her thoughts.

This all encourages her dependence and the apparent worship he now receives from her. Petruchio then tests the extremity of what Kate has declared, and tells her that an old man before them is in truth a beautiful maiden. Then, Petruchio turns and says the truth, that “This is a man, old wrinkled, faded, withered, And not a maiden, as thou say’st he is. ” Then, interestingly, Katherina apologises to the old man for the mistake, and takes the fault upon herself.

This shows she will from there onwards take a submissive role and avoid standing up for herself, and not be concerned about things like pride, which previously would have dominated her social interactions. Instead, her husband takes precedence. The old Kate, before her marriage to Petruchio, would have jumped to assert blame onto someone else. However, her current devoted and passive nature means she jumps to the defensive, in this action being graceful, polite, calm and subdued, much like the idealised woman of the period, and the initial perception of Bianca.

By this stage, Kate has become very subdued, and is far more close to the perception of ideal womanhood held at the time. She has changed completely, and her surrendering continues to amaze an audience remembering the past behaviour of this shrew. She has changed very much in demeanour, as she now fits a social role model of being a wife, though at this stage still integrating the details. She is undeniably more passive, calmer, sweeter, more graceful and thus, more desirable, and we see such a great change on the character that this man Petruchio has had upon her.

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