The Taming of the Shrew

The True Shrews to Be Tamed

A shrew, a scold, was in fundamental nature any woman that verbally defied authority in public and obstinately challenged the "axiom" of male rule. The late sixteenth century was harsh to deviants of social role and standing, and the penalty of having an association with the stigma of shrew meant ritual humiliation and public ridicule. "A Merry Jest of a Shrewde and Curste Wyfe, Lapped in Morrelles Skin, for Her Good Behavyour" and other ballads of the period show an image of the shrew being that of a poor, old, nagging wife. The archetype, however, would be altered by The Shrew's Katherine Minola, yet reinforced by the Old Widow and blurred by Bianca Minola. Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew brought forth a transformed quixotic shrew that is wealthy, beautiful, and, most important, spirited.

In The Shrew, Katharina is viewed as the classic, traditional scold, her crime against the social order being her almost absolute refusal to accept the male domineering hierarchy. She displays a quick temper that makes slow witted men quiver in fear. In Act I scene i, she responds to Hortensio's remark of "No mates for you, / Unless you were of gentler milder mold" (1.1.59-60) with a threat...

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