The Taming of the Shrew Themes & Symbolism

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Gender Roles

Nearly all critical commentary on The Taming of the Shrew deals to some extent with the play's treatment of gender roles: that is, what it has to say about socially accepted definitions of appropriate male and female behavior. On the surface, the play appears to confirm a very traditional view that men should dominate women and that women should submit to male authority. All of the characters except Katherina agree throughout the play that her initial rebellious, self-assertive, "shrewish" behavior is not acceptable. In the end, Kate has apparently come round to this position as well, giving a long speech p ro claiming the rightness of male dominance an female submissiveness.

Until fairly recently, few people challenged this view of the play. In fact, the play knew centuries of popularity with audiences who found Petruchio's "taming" of Katherina both inoffensive and amusing. In the late nineteenth...

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This section contains 1,985 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Taming of the Shrew Study Guide
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Shakespeare for Students
The Taming of the Shrew from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.