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The Taming of the Shrew has been one of the most famed comedies by William Shakespeare. It has been popularly adapted to many modern forms of movies and stage plays. The theme of this play seems to be universally appealing and adaptable to different stages and time frames. The play starts with a framing device or an induction where a drunkard named Sly is tricked into thinking that he is a nobleman.
The play is a framed play which gets performed in front of the “Sly”.
There is a primary plot and the subplot throughout which the different levels of amusement of the comedy are being relieved. The main plot involves the courtship between Petruchio and Katherina. Katherina is the headstrong woman who is unwilling to participate in the relationship but Petruchio becomes successful by taming her through psychological tortures which ultimately makes her an obedient bride. There are also the sub-plots that work with Katherina’s tractable sister, Bianca.
The play is apparently strewn with misogynistic elements and has been a subject of extended controversy. Ironically it has been made adaptable through centuries in different settings and involvements. The taming process of the bride thus comes to be a poignant sexual control issue that has been present in societies for long. The ideal of female submissiveness has been one of the easily contended issues in a courtship and marriage which has rendered its presence even into current periods, often defying specific cultures and time frames.
In the play Katherina’s temperament is depicted to be notorious with extremes in swings. It has been thought that no man could really control her nor would anyone attempt to marry her because of her ill temperament. Her younger sister, who is of milder disposition, easily gets suitors and courtship. But her younger sister would not be married before her, according to their father, Baptista Minola, the Lord of Minola. In great despair, Bianca’s suitors work together to get Katherina married off so that they can compete for Bianca’s hand with ease of mind. The plot becomes complex as Lucianto comes to the scene.
Being in love with Bianca, he disguises as the women’s Latin teacher to be close to her.
Meanwhile Petruchio, who wishes to contest for marrying Bianca, meets the fortune seeking Hortensio who in turn is disguised as the women’s music teacher, Litio. Petruchio hopes that he would make an ideal suitor for Katherina. Petruchio uses counter psychology to deal with Katherina and woos her to the point where she agrees to be married.
The process of keeping on taming her wife takes place even after marriage and finally it turns out that Petruchio has been able to tame his wife who now applies her wit and discretion to listen to her husband and keep peace.
She thus not only loses the title of a shrew but even proves in front of other people that she had indeed turned into an obedient wife.