The taming of the shrew

Re-read Katherina’s last speech in Act 5 Scene 2, and discuss its content. Does this speech mark the beginning of true happiness for her or has she learned to play her husband at her own game, or can we as readers, be offended by the assumption that males are superior. The ‘Taming of the Shrew’ is a comedy play written by an early sixteenth century play writer called William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare wanted to entertain not just the upper classes, but everyone in society. William Shakespeare had a natural talent to understand the complexities of human behaviour which made his plays that much more popular.

Although the play was written as a comedy, some people, generally women, have been offended by the play. Katherina, the main character, has obviously become a great deal happier since marrying Petruchio. No longer does Katherina act as a ‘stark mad’ ‘wench’ with a ‘scolding tongue’, that breaks lutes onto people’s heads as she to Hortensio before she was wed. Instead Katherina is ‘warm at home, secure and safe’. Petruchio has treated his ‘Kate’ differently to the way her father and his friends treated her. Not only does Petruchio call her by a different name, Kate, he takes an interest in everything she does and believes in her.

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Before he met her he ‘will not sleep, till I see her’ and he trusted her to be the most obedient wife, which made him a hundred crowns wealthier. Katherina has reciprocated the trust by ‘placing’ her ‘hand below’ her ‘husband’s foot’, to symbolise that he is her ‘lord’. Petruchio’s faith and loyalty in Katherina have made her change. In Katherina’s last speech, she might not have meant all the things she said. Katherina could be playing a game to benefit herself. She might be trying to make Petruchio treat her better, as straight after the speech he pronounces ‘kiss me Kate’. She could be playing a game with Petruchio.

When Petruchio wins the bet because Katherina was the most obedient wife, Baptista offers Petruchio a further twenty thousand crowns. Katherina has benefited both ways by her speech and by coming when Petruchio called. She has learnt that being ‘shrewd’ and ‘devilish’ do not reap as many rewards as being obedient and loving do. She has suddenly gone from calling her husband a ‘madcap ruffian’ to calling him her ‘king’. She is not playing a game against Petruchio, she is playing a game with him. They have learned to work together which could signal the signs of a good relationship.

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