Themes in Taming of the Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy written in the early 1590’s by William Shakespeare. This play within a play starts when a powerful lord plays a prank on a poor, drunken man named Christopher Sly. The lord convinces the poor man that he is actually a lord himself and that the troop of actors that have arrived are there to perform a play for him. This play that the troop of actors performs is the story of Petruchio, who wants to marry for money, and Katherina, the shrew. The two actually marry and Petruchio uses his skills to “tame” Kate. This comedy of Shakespeare’s covers the themes of disguise, marriage, and transformation. The first recurring theme throughout The Taming of the Shrew is disguise. This theme is demonstrated by…show more content…
Both Kahn and Cahn explain well the significance of money and the lack of importance of love in marriage in this play. These critics also help show that marriage is a dominant theme in The Taming of the Shrew, but the reasons behind marriage are certainly different than what we think of them to be in our culture today. The final and most controversial theme in The Taming of the Shrew is transformation. An online dictionary defines transformation as “A marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.” While Kate is definitely transformed throughout the play, it is very arguable as to whether or not her change from undesired shrew to tamed wife is actually for the better. The first argument is given by Lise Pederson and simply questions if the means would really produce the end. When talking about Petruchio’s treatment of Kate and the techniques he uses to “tame” her, Pederson implies that Shakespeare’s play does not comply with reality because “it asserts that the example of bad-tempered, uncontrolled behavior can only bring about behavior of the same kind in the learner, not a change to the sweet-tempered reasonableness such as Kate exhibits.” (19). Other critics, such as John Bean, seems content with the transformation seen with Kate and are not bothered by the means of producing the transformation either. John Bean reasons that “we can perhaps see
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