The Taming of the Shrew

The Language of Petruchio

Petruchio’s multifaceted role in The Taming of the Shrew illustrates various themes of the play, such as the concept of domestication, the economy of marriage, gender roles, and the nature of language. Through his experiences at Padua, interactions and marriage with Katherina, and the conclusion of her domestication, Petruchio presents the symbolism and meaning behind these themes. While these themes are not applicable to Petruchio alone, Petruchio’s language is of particular interest because it is the primary domesticating tool of the titular theme. Petruchio does not purchase Kate or win a tournament for her, but rather he uses language to attain her favor. He is defined by his excessive materialism, bluntness, and possessiveness, to the point of transcending social norms.

Petruchio’s language immediately indicates his materialism and craftiness. Early on, he squarely states an intention to marry for wealth: “One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife- / As wealth is burthen of my wooing dance-” (1.2.66-67) Here, Petruchio immediately corrects Hortensio, who would “not wish thee to her.” (1.2.63) Petruchio demonstrates himself to be avaricious beyond what is acceptable for his time. The financial aspects of marriage are...

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