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The Taming of the Shrew is 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 he is a nobleman.
The play is a framed play performed in front of the “Sly”.
There is a primary plot and a subplot throughout which the different levels of amusement of the comedy are relieved. The main plot involves the courtship between Petruchio and Katherina.
Katherina is the headstrong woman unwilling to participate in the relationship, but Petruchio becomes successful by taming her through psychological torture, ultimately making her an obedient bride. The sub-plots also work with Katherina’s tractable sister, Bianca.
The play is sprinkled 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 bride’s taming process thus becomes a poignant sexual control issue that has been present in societies for a long. The ideal of female submissiveness has been one of the easily contended issues in 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 for extremes in swings. It has been thought that no man could control her, nor would anyone attempt to marry her because of her ill temperament. Her younger sister, who is of a milder disposition, easily gets suitors and courtships.
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 himself 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, disguised as the women’s music teacher, Litio. Petruchio hopes that he will 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 taming her wife takes place even after marriage,e 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 the peace.
She thus not only loses the title of a shrew but even proves in front of other people that shehasd indeed turned into an obedient wife.