The Taming of the Shrew

Male Friendships in The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It College

In many of Shakespeare’s comedies, we see people from all social ranks being portrayed – from the highest of nobles, to the lowest of servants. In cases of male friendship, there is a common pattern to see friendship develop through master-servant relationships, which aid and benefit each other. Two pertinent examples of this type of relationship is seen in Lucentio and Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew, and between Adam and Orlando from As You Like It. In both cases, these master-servant friendships can be compared to other friendships in the play that feature varying degrees of equality/inequality, to specify what makes these friendships different. In this essay, the nature of both of these friendships, and how they are portrayed will be explored, as well as their intended roles and functions in progressing the narratives of their respective plays.

In order to examine the friendships of Lucentio and Tranio, as well as Adam and Orlando, it is important that we first define a concept of male friendship of which to compare them to. I have formed my definition around that of Lorna Huston’s, who theorises that male friendships were “an economic dependency as well as an affective bond.”[1] Viewed from this angle, male friendships...

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