As her as callous, sharp-tongued, and unmannerly,
As she screams at her father Katherine says “What will you not suffer me? Nay now I see She is your treasure, she must have a husband; I must dance barefoot on her wedding day, And for your love to her lead apes in hell” (Shakespeare 35). Katherine knows that her father favors Bianca because she is a goody two shoes of daughter. Kate expresses her feelings of having to be married off first because nobody in town wants her as a wife. Kate does not believe that she should be offered as a wife and then backed up with a dowry. She is quite opinionated about this, with no fear of who knows or not. Katherine’s views and beliefs of marriage and life set her apart from other women in Padua. Women, such as Bianca, simply go along with marriages and abide by what their husbands’ request. She is the one woman no man has been able to tame, and no man has wanted to. The town sees her as callous, sharp-tongued, and unmannerly, until Petruchio comes along to woo her. At the end of Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew it seems as though Petruchio has tamed Kate but in actuality she has simply learned to play his game and tell him what he wants to hear.
After Kate’s father agrees to her marriage, Petruchio sets off to find Katherine and tell her the news. Upon finding her, they argue back and forth, teasing one another with playful words. This is where Petruchio decides he will make a decent wife out of Kate. He comes right out and tells her “And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate, conformable as other Kates”(45). Petruchio believes that Kate will be tamed and will become the wife he wants through his loving guidance. The wedding day arrives but the groom does not. Petruchio is very late and this puts Kate in an awful mood. She rants on about the marriage as she awaits his arrival. Declaring herself Kate says:
No shame but mine. I must, forsooth, be forced to give my hand opposed against my heart unto a mad-brained rudesby full of spleen, who wooed in haste and means to wed at leisure. I told you, I, he was a frantic fool . . . Now must the world point at poor Katherine and say, “Lo, there is mad Petruchio’s wife, If it would please him come and marry her!” (54)
In this passage Katherine is first subjected to Petruchio’s plan for taming her. Angered by his actions she tells the townsfolk of her objection to this marriage. Kate believes that she should be in love with whom she wants to marry, but this is obviously not the case with Petruchio. She explains that he will make an awful husband due to his actions and his motive for even marrying her in the first place. She is embarrassed on her very own wedding day and is ashamed of Petruchio.
After the wedding is over, Kate and Petruchio return to his home in the country. Petruchio begins to tell his servants all about his plan for Kate. He explains “Another way I have to man my haggard, to make her come and know her keeper’s call: that is, to watch her, as we watch these kites that bate and beat and will not be obedient” (70). Referring to Kate as a hawk that will obey its owner’s request, he knows that she will eventually obey his request just as the bird obeys. By keeping close watch over her actions Petruchio will have say on what she can or cannot do. This will teach her to become submissive to his every word. Kate is still disagreeable when Petruchio tells her of the trip to Padua for her sister’s wedding. He warns her and says “Look what I speak, or do, or think to do, you are still crossing it. -Sirs, let’t alone. I will not go today, and ere I do it shall be what o’clock I say it is” (83). At this point Kate catches on to Petruchio’s plan and begins to play along with him. She has figured out that if she tells Petruchio what he believes is right that she will be able to live in peace. Kate begins her plan to show Petruchio that she has been tamed.
As they begin their trip to Padua an argument occurs which gives Kate the perfect chance to show off to Petruchio. Petruchio insists that the moon is out when it is clearly the moon, Kate replies “And it be moon, or sun, or what you please; An if you please to call it a rush candle, Henceforth I vow it shall be for me” (87). Petruchio is amazed by this sudden obedience that Kate displays towards his comments. He continues his charades and Kate agrees to everything he says, even calling an old man a fair, young maiden. This pleases Petruchio very much for he feels that he has succeeded at a monumental task. The two continue on to Padua for the wedding.
Everyone at the wedding is full of comments for Petruchio and Kate. The wedding party tells of how Kate is a shrew and how hard it must be for Petruchio to keep her as a wife. Petruchio tells them of her taming and they all disagree at the very concept. Petruchio sends Kate and the other two wives away to the lounge. He then bets that his wife is not the greatest shrew, and that she will come upon request before the other two wives. Laughing at the very idea the other two men place their bets and the contest begins. The first two wives reply that they are busy and will come later. Kate rushes into the room immediately after she heard of her husband’s command. Everyone in the room is amazed. Petruchio has her summon the other two wives and tells Kate to speak of how they must love and obey their husbands.
Scorning the other wives, Kate conveys her views and says “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee . . .” (103). Kate speaks of the duties of a husband and his duty to his wife. One shall devote themselves to him and abide by his word without protest. For he protects his wife and cares for her. “And not obedient to his honest will, what is she but a foul contending rebel and graceless traitor to her loving lord? I am ashamed that women are so simple” Kate asserts (103). She simply states that women should obey their husbands, for it is the least they could do. For he provides for her and looks after her and all he asks is for loyalty. Kate can not comprehend how that is too much to ask. She bows down to Petruchio while telling the other wives to “place your hand below your husband’s foot, in token of which duty, if he please, my hand is ready; may it do him ease” (103). Kate believed it was her duty as a wife to serve her husband the best she could and that would be all he would ever need. Loyalty was all Petruchio had wanted from the beginning but he had gained so much more.
During Kate’s taming she strived to make peace with Petruchio so that they might live together side by side without argument. She merely wanted him to care for her and treat her like a wife. So kate figured him out and played along with him, but never intended to fall in love with him. In the play, Shakespeare never really said if she loved him or not. Her speech had such heartfelt emotion buried between each line that it is hard to imagine it was all an act. Petruchio may have wanted her to talk of being a proper wife but even he was amazed by her speech. At his command she spoke of loyalty, but from her heart she spoke of love.
Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. David Bevington. A Bantam Classic. New York: Bantam books, 1980.