The Taming of the Shrew

Petruccio and Katherine: Mutual Love within Hierarchy

Petruccio and Katherine: Mutual Love within Hierarchy

by, Anonymous

March 14, 2004

Petruccio and Katherine: Mutual Love within Hierarchy

In her famous speech at the end of The Taming of the Shrew the formerly shrewish Kate proclaims:

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,

And for thy maintenance commits his body

To painful labour both by sea and land [...]

Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks, and true obedience. (5.2.150-3,156-7)

Shakespeare's much debated comedy features the quarrelsome, disobedient Kate, who slowly comes to see the value of loving submission to her husband Petruccio. Or does it? Is the above quotation sincere or sarcastic? Some understand Kate's conformity as the clever disguise of a woman left with no alternative; others, look upon Kate as a tragic figure and see the ending as misogynist and unsettling rather then relieving. The later critics hold the opinion that efforts to insert a feminist agenda into a sixteenth century popular play have obvious shortcomings, not the least of which is that they rob the play of its true warmth and value. To them, the love between Katherine and...

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