The Taming of the Shrew is just one of Shakespeare’s many timeless works that
talks about issues still existing today. Several major issues he brings up in this
particular play are feminism, money, and marriage.
Although women have been given
more rights and have progressed greatly since the 1600’s, feminism has not gone
away. For that reason, we are able to relate to the quick-tongued, strong-willed
daughter of Minola Baptista, Katherine. She is the personification of women’s
inferiority to men and is a victim of the culture of her time. Katherine initially
repudiates the role of being wife because, during this time, wives are expected to
succumb to their husbands. It is considered disgraceful for a woman to not be
married because it appears that she is not desirable and no man would want to wed
her. Katherine eventually realizes that it is better for her to give in rather than
to continue her life as a shrew. Shakespeare reveals his position on male-female
relationships through the telling of this story. In The Taming of the Shrew,
Katherine finally recognizes her place in marriage by the end of the play. By
yielding to Petrucio’s commands, she faithfully marries him and becomes happy in
bondage because he is fortunately just as outspoken and strong-minded as she is.
Because this play is a romantic comedy, the idea of love is a bit skewed. It would
be expected that the shrew would never find love; however, her relationship with
Petrucio is more real than that of Lucentio and Katherine’s little sister, Bianca.
This is the case because Lucentio does not see Bianca as an equal. In contrast, he
sees her as a possession, and views his courtship as a game: “I burn, I pine, I
perish, Tranio/If I achieve not this young modest girl” (I.i. 149-150). Petrucio
similarly sees the courtship of Katherine to be a challenging game, in which the
prize is her dowry, but he has additional reasons for wooing her. At their wedding,
Petrucio appears in a ridiculous outfit. Petrucio makes it known during their
wedding that Kate is marrying him and not his attire. Although he humiliates
Katherine, in the process, he is communicating that their relationship is beyond
looks, while the attraction between Lucentio and Bianca is shallow.
Money is a key
factor that determines the fate of relationships in this play. Before Baptista would
consider Lucentio as his son-in-law, Lucentio was required to prove that he was
wealthy. Money was also the reason Petrucio wanted to marry Katherine. It is often
looked down upon if a marriage during the 21st century is based on money or status.
This does not, however, mean that marriage for money does not exist. Wealth is a
form of status as well as security, and it will continually be an issue for
centuries to come. Furthermore, its universal issues will allow The Taming of the
Shrew to persistently be read for centuries to come.
Reviewer: Darlene Nguyen