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ConnieAnnKirk
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The Taming of the Shrew: Themes

If you had to suggest one or two themes for this play, what would they be?
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dulcinea3
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Themes

The use of reverse psychology?
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Benedict1
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Themes

I see two main themes within Taming of the Shrew.

1. People use their god given attributes and abilities within any environment that they find themselves in.  The tactics that they use in one sector of life are the same tactics that they use in other sectors of life.  We see this phenomenon in the character of Petruccio.

 

2. Anybody can be brain washed, man or woman.  Through a series of braking down and then re-growing a desired perspective, any person’s social upbringing can be altered.  This will not change their genetics, but the makeup of a person that is built upon genetics and nurtured by society can be changed.  Just like a bush that is wild within the woods with a branch here and a branch there can be pruned and nurtured to resemble a desired shape after years of care.  We can say that the bush has been changed into something new, but it is still a bush.  Just like Kate’s ability to be witty is still present, but her Will is now that of Petruccio.  It is now Petruccio’s Will that directs the genetic wit of Kate.

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Choisya
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Deception & Madness.

[ Edited ]

The theme which fascinates me the most is deception and its link with dramatic irony in particular:   From the Induction onwards the Lord uses both illusion and reality to convince Sly that he is a nobleman but we know that he will come down to earth when the real Lord tires of acting out his fantasy.   It is another Midsummer Night's Dream.  The presence of Sly on the stage during the main play can infer that we should understand that Petruchio's taming of his wife is a temporary 'wonder', like his own changed circumstances.   This deception, in turn, can lead us into believing that Kate's 'submission' in the final Act is the ultimate deception, an illusion. 

 

Tranio and Lucentio set up a hoax as elaborate as the Lord's and Biondello and Bartholomew are brought in to carry out the subterfuge so as to provide Lucrentio with a new role as husband to Bianca.  Hortensio's disguise leads him into not looking closely as the widow.

 

Is Petruchio really in disguise? He uses his storytelling and acting powers to transform his wife but until the last act of the play we are unsure whether he can carry his project off. He is always upfront about his motives and does not deceive anyone, least of all Kate.  It is ironic that the one character whose behaviour is considered odd is proved to have been telling the truth all along - another ironic deception.  Bianca is just as successul at acting and both he and she get what they want. Both Petruchio and Bianca prove that power can be gained by playing a role if you have enough determination and a clear understanding of those you seek to influence.   

 

 

The theme of madness in the play is also fascinating. Kate is labelled 'stark mad' but her portrayal can make her a figure of pathos since she is ignored, scorned, isolated and brought low.  Petruchio is described in similar terms; a 'mad brained rudesby' in 'mad attire'. So we come to see that the adjective 'mad' can be applied to  various acts of behaviour and to both men and women. As Kate becomes more 'tamed' Petruchio develops into a 'madcap ruffian' and our sympathy for him may diminish as our compassion for her increases.  It is this comparison which can lead to the interpretation of the play as one which criticises mysogny and violence towards women or wives.

 

Similarly, the descriptions of mad behaviour at the wedding, where the bridegroom 'stamp'd and swore' at the vicar, guzzled the communion wine and then 'threw the sops in the sexton's face' shows us that the male protaganist has gone too far, much further than his bride is allowed to go.   

 

Germaine Greer has suggested that the 'madness' theme in the play could show that the couple are well matched and that Shakespeare was possibly suggesting that both men and women can be 'shrews' who need taming.    

 

     

 

 


ConnieK wrote:
If you had to suggest one or two themes for this play, what would they be?

 

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-27-2008 09:26 AM
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Themes


dulcinea3 wrote:
The use of reverse psychology?

 

Before he even knew to call it that, too.  Interesting!
~ConnieAnnKirk




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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Themes


Benedict1 wrote:

I see two main themes within Taming of the Shrew.

1. People use their god given attributes and abilities within any environment that they find themselves in.  The tactics that they use in one sector of life are the same tactics that they use in other sectors of life.  We see this phenomenon in the character of Petruccio.

 

 


Could you elaborate a little bit more on this one, Benedict?  What are Petruchio's abilities and talents that you see him using and in what other area of his life other than 'taming' his wife-to-be?  Do you mean taming animals and taming a wife?  That kind of thing?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: The Taming of the Shrew: Deception & Madness.


Choisya wrote:

The theme which fascinates me the most is deception and its link with dramatic irony in particular:   From the Induction onwards the Lord uses both illusion and reality to convince Sly that he is a nobleman but we know that he will come down to earth when the real Lord tires of acting out his fantasy.   It is another Midsummer Night's Dream.  The presence of Sly on the stage during the main play can infer that we should understand that Petruchio's taming of his wife is a temporary 'wonder', like his own changed circumstances.   This deception, in turn, can lead us into believing that Kate's 'submission' in the final Act is the ultimate deception, an illusion. 

 

Tranio and Lucentio set up a hoax as elaborate as the Lord's and Biondello and Bartholomew are brought in to carry out the subterfuge so as to provide Lucrentio with a new role as husband to Bianca.  Hortensio's disguise leads him into not looking closely as the widow.

 

Is Petruchio really in disguise? He uses his storytelling and acting powers to transform his wife but until the last act of the play we are unsure whether he can carry his project off. He is always upfront about his motives and does not deceive anyone, least of all Kate.  It is ironic that the one character whose behaviour is considered odd is proved to have been telling the truth all along - another ironic deception.  Bianca is just as successul at acting and both he and she get what they want. Both Petruchio and Bianca prove that power can be gained by playing a role if you have enough determination and a clear understanding of those you seek to influence.   

 

 

The theme of madness in the play is also fascinating. Kate is labelled 'stark mad' but her portrayal can make her a figure of pathos since she is ignored, scorned, isolated and brought low.  Petruchio is described in similar terms; a 'mad brained rudesby' in 'mad attire'. So we come to see that the adjective 'mad' can be applied to  various acts of behaviour and to both men and women. As Kate becomes more 'tamed' Petruchio develops into a 'madcap ruffian' and our sympathy for him may diminish as our compassion for her increases.  It is this comparison which can lead to the interpretation of the play as one which criticises mysogny and violence towards women or wives.

 

Similarly, the descriptions of mad behaviour at the wedding, where the bridegroom 'stamp'd and swore' at the vicar, guzzled the communion wine and then 'threw the sops in the sexton's face' shows us that the male protaganist has gone too far, much further than his bride is allowed to go.   

 

Germaine Greer has suggested that the 'madness' theme in the play could show that the couple are well matched and that Shakespeare was possibly suggesting that both men and women can be 'shrews' who need taming.    

 

     


A splendid post, Choisya!  Thank you!

~ConnieAnnKirk




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