A man with only a grammar school education was able to become a highly regarded English poet, playwright, and actor. This renowned writer is known as, William Shakespeare. His works include; 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 narrative poems, and a variety of other poems. One of his most famous works is the play, the Taming of the Shrew. This play shows; romance, comedy, and deception all in one. Many people love William Shakespeare’s: Taming of the Shrew, because it has multiple plots and themes. The scenes in this play, include; weddings, parties, and family events, each major scene helps us get an insight into what the character believes marriage to be. We understand how a person’s environment will determine their behavior. The scenes that involve marriage show us how marriage not only affects the couple but their, parents, servants, and their friends. This play reveals the values, roles, and appropriate behavior of each society member, focusing directly on marriage as it was back in the Renaissance.
“And I have thrust myself into this maze, Happily to wive and thrive, as best I may.” (Shakespeare. Act 1, Scene 2) This quote and others shows exactly how different each character views marriage. Some are seeking their true love, while others are interested in wealth and power. The plot of, Taming of the Shrew, focuses on the marriage of Baptista’s two daughters, Bianca and Katherina. The father will not allow Bianca to get married until her older sister, Katherine does. Baptisa spends a great deal of time throughout the scenes making negotiations to “sell off” his daughters. Katherine is often seen as aggressive and a bit of a hot head, whereas Bianca is well-mannered and submissive. This is where one of the problems lies, men want women to follow their rules, hence Bianca, a subservient woman, has two men battling for her. Katherine refuses to be told what she can and can’t do. Katherine believes her sister is looking for a wealthy husband but, Bianca is actually looking for true love. The scenes in the play will show familiar topics and debates in that time period.
Lucentio and Hortensio disguise themselves as teachers to spend time with Bianca without anyone noticing them. They put themselves in a lower social class in search of love. Meanwhile, Petruchio makes a deal with Baptisa to marry Katherine, he agrees to marry Katherine simply for her wealth. He decides he will tame, “the shrew” to become his perfect wife. The wedding is elaborate and a social event, where Baptisa is able to boast about how he, “sold off his daughter” and united the two powerful families. In this scene we get insight into Katherines feelings, she feels as though she is being married against her will. This scene shows how men were in charge of marriages and the struggle women felt by being controlled by a man.
“Thus I have politicly begun my reign” (Shakespeare. Act 4 Scene 1) Petruchio begins to treat Katherine and the servants horribly. He doesn’t let Katherine eat, sleep, or bathe. Petruchio treats her like an animal. At one point she cofides with the servant about her husband’s behavior, the servant attempts to treat as though Petruchio did, she hits him. This scene reveals that a noblewoman will not be treated that way by a servant despite this behavior being tolerated by her husband. As time progresses he has easily gained control in the relationship and forces her to do and agree with what he says and does. People around him admire his ability to control his wife.
Hortensio abandons his love for Bianca because he disagrees with her improper behavior of liking a lower class man and instead goes on to marry a very wealthy widow. This suggests that money matters more than love or marriage to him. Continuing with the search for wealth, Baptisa was unsure about the new wedding because of Lucentio’s financial status. Lucentio and Bianca’s marriage was a union between two people in love. The relationship between these two shows, “an idealistic marriage.” Lucentio was more concerned for marrying for love than wealth or power, which resulted in an elopement. In order to unite the two families socially they have a wedding banquet after the elopement. In this scene we see that fear has made them marry in secret because of the power her father had over her and the need for wealth and power.
In this wedding banquet scene, Petruchio makes a bet with Lucentio and Hortensio. This bet is too show eachother how much power they have in there marriage. They will call for their wives and whichever wife comes first they will win the money. When called for, Bianca replies that she is busy, Hortsenio’s wife refuses to come, and Katherine is the only wife that returns. Petruchio has proven his dominance in power. Marriage in Petruchio’s eyes is just a power structure. Petruchio believes he is the “king” of the marriage and his wife must follow his instructions. His attempts to tame his wife as his servant has come true. Katherine summaries this idea of marriage by stating, “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper…”
Is a female’s, “shrewdness” something to be tamed? Does a marriage entitle a male to have dominance? Should a marriage result in financial and power gains? Should true love only win because they manipulated their families? Each specific scene in this play shows different viewpoints of the theme, marriage. Shakespeare’s play often shows that marriages are different, they could be a power structure, financial exchange, or a loving relationship. The scenes in this play repeatedly show the values of a man’s dominance, the importance of marriage, and the social structure of their society. When evaluating the entire play, one is left to conclude that all marriages are not alike.