Comparing Katharina, of The Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing

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Comparing Shakespeare’s Katharina, of The Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice, of Much Ado About Nothing


Shakespeare’s Katharina, of The Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice, of Much Ado About Nothing, are very similar characters. Each is plagued with unrequited love, and depressed by their inability to woo the suitor of their choosing. Neither will accept the passive female role expected by society. Yet, both women seem to accept their role as wife by the conclusion. Upon further examination, one will find that Beatrice is a much more complex character. One would have to agree with the critic who said, "Katharina is a character sketched in bold, rapid stokes, with none of Beatrice's sophistication, verbal brilliance, or emotional
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Beatrice is also very sociable with other people and seems to be a shrew just when talking about Benedick and other males. Not unlike Katharina, who was told she would marry Petruchio (2.I.260-268), Beatrice does not consent to marry Benedick directly. Beatrice has to be entrapped with the love sonnets that Hero stole from her pocket (5.IV.88-90). Even at the conclusion of the play, it seems as though Beatrice will not change her attitudes, just her status as an unmarried woman.

Both Beatrice and Katharina participate in stichomythia, a kind of verbal Ping-Pong match, with their suitors. Katharina seems to go for the vulgar and obscene insults like, "No cock of mine. You crow too like a craven." (2.I.222) Most of Katharina's lines are short, two or three lines at a time, and she does not use very many complicated analogies. Beatrice is not obscene in her exchange of words with Benedick, but she seems to have more to say and does more than just respond to insults. Katharina does not seem to be the type of person to write love sonnets about Petruchio, yet Beatrice did write them about Benedick (5.IV.88-90). Beatrice seems to reflect strong verbal feelings of disgust with Benedick and his going off to be a soldier, "I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? For indeed, I…