Lecture 3: "Taming of the Shrew" Part II
Lecture 3: "Taming of the Shrew" Part II ENG 209
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Miranda Browning on Sunday August 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 209 at North Carolina State University taught by William Shaw in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Intro to Shakespeare in English at North Carolina State University.
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Date Created: 08/28/16
Talked last class about the plot structure. In particular, about the induction and how Shakespeare creates a farcical introduction to the play. We also talked about how the frame of the plot is incomplete—as we never found out what happened to Christopher Sly. However, we usually see Sly in a balcony watching the main play and him falling asleep and being taken off stage. In which, he is accounted for and not upstaging the “main play.” Question Dr. Shaw proposed: What is the relationship between the Sly plot and the plot that deals with the two sets of lovers, Lucentio/Bianca and Petruchio/Kate? o On surface it doesn’t seem to have much significance with the other. o Sly plot is generally farcical and comical in tone while the other plots are essentially love plots. o Sly plot—by changing his costume, surrounding, & how people treat him—he begins to believe that he is actually a Lord. o In other two plots we also deal with the idea of change. o We see the motifs of disguise and change come through. Where disguises are used to cover identity and play tricks on others. Theme of change can be seen through the changing of costume to ultimately change identity (as depicted by the number of characters who pretend to be someone they are not by changing clothes; such as, Lucentio trying to be a tutor in order to impress Bianca and Petruchio dressed as a bum when arriving to his own wedding and many more) o So, are these changes in identity no more than changes in clothing? Or, is there a more substantial change in terms of their outlook on the world and their personality/behavior? Genre Clearly, this play is a comedy—begins in confusion and problems but ends happily, often times through a marriage or multiple marriages. Subgenres: comedy of manners and romantic comedy—especially in the Lucentio and Bianca plot through the sort of battle of the sexes. Farce means that a play is not really concerned with ideas/themes that carry some social and intellectual weight. The main interest in the play is the slapstick elements, as seen through the Sly plot. Dr. Shaw refers to it as a “three stooges” scene with no serious underlying theme to it and meant only for laughs. Relationship Among Plots Important to understand the relationship dynamics of the play as they exist through: husbandwife, masterservant, and parentchild. In the 16 century, social, political, and familial structures were both hierarchical and patriarchal. In terms of hierarchical structures, we refer to the pyramidal system in which those with the most power are on top and levels of power trickle down from those at the top: like the Pope, Kings, Archbishops, God, etc. In terms of patriarchal structures, we refer to the importance of the “Father” figure, thus, translating to a male dominated system. So, fathers in the family as the “kings of their castle,” and men in the church and government holding upper level positions with the most power. o For those men like Baptista who did not have sons to “rule” after his passing, and instead two daughters, their main goal and responsibility was to try and get them well married. Passing on their “property” to the hands of another man, because, during this time, women were unfortunately deemed as property. Marriage proposals and men asking the father for their daughters hand in marriage was, then, ultimately a contract for the exchange of “property” with money, land, etc. on the line. o For those fathers who could not pass along their daughters to another man, the woman would live as an old maid and continue to live in the father’s home. Or, the father could make a gift of his “property” to the church, assigning as a convent, giving his daughter as a gift to God. o While women did not legally have ways to escape the patriarchal nature of the time, they did so in other ways, such as: being more intelligent and stronger willed than their husbands, or through manipulation. Many instances of violence, through characters striking and beating others. Where does this violence come from? During this time there were essays on how and when to beat your wife and servant. Such as “HowTo” books in order to keep one’s house in order. Characterization Lucentio is the traditional courtly lover, going to University to enjoy a life of intellect. But, when he sees a beautiful girl he falls in love at first sight and sets his education aside to pursue Bianca. Bianca is favored more by her father and a lot of men seem to want her. Why? She is docile, submissive, charming, quiet—thus, admissible to the men around her and lending to the patriarchal nature of the time. Petruchio is an interesting character. He has traveled the world and been in combat, so an older and more mature man then Lucentio. o His motives: comes because his father has died and did not leave him enough money. So, he needs someone to take care of his house and to marry someone that has money. o Openly stated that he is looking for marriage to support his monetary needs. Katherine—the big question is whether her behavior is motivated or unmotivated? o Her behavior is unmotivated at most times. But, is motivated when it comes to her younger sister Bianca. Cognizant of her father liking Bianca more than herself, she has developed a stronger willed and intelligent personality who is not scared to challenge authority. So, her behavior is motivated by the sibling rivalry with her sister. o She feels alienated from her father and is fed up with the patriarchal system in general. o Her relationship with Petruchio—he originally sees her as a means of money where she sees him as another challenge that she has to overcome. o Act 2, Scene 1—series of dialogue made up of one line passages between the two, a pattern called stichomythia. A rhetorical pattern that Shakespeare often used when he had an argument going back and forth between characters. This is a significant moment because this is the first time she has engaged anyone on her level. Part of the play where each has the potential to be actually interested in one another, through this argumentative “word game.” o Through lines in the play we see Petruchio claiming his victory through which he will be arranged to marry her, and “tame her” into becoming a Kate made suitable for the home. o Petruchio takes her away from the wedding party as a way to “protect her.” He will not let her eat or sleep because he claims neither the food nor the bed are good enough for her. So, although she is being deprived and starving and tired, he claims this all is beneficial and “in reverent care for her.” He compares this to the training a falcon, making her go through a sort of “boot camp” training. o Brings up the scene of Petruchio telling her what she can and cannot wear, and him even making plans for her. o Overarching question: Does Kate change because of what has been imposed on her or from something that occurred within her? Thus, is she becoming educated to the point where now she is making choices for herself. Act 4, Scene 5 critical moment in the play, a dialogue between Petruchio and Kate o Key part of the dialogue between the two: when Petruchio claims that the bright light of the sun is actually “the moon.” Kate, claiming that it is actually the sun argues for a little with Petruchio, but ultimately succumbs and agrees with his claims, now saying that it is whatever he claims it to be, whether it be the sun or the moon. o So, has she come to a realization now that connects her to what she discovered with Petruchio in an earlier scene. She realizes that he is different from other men, as he approaches her with reverse psychology that uses her own anger against her. o Both of them investing into the playfulness of their relationship can be interpreted in several ways. Going along with this gamefashion, they have a unique relationship that she has never before experienced with other men. Theme: Susceptibility of Personality Change Towards the end of the wedding, Petruchio makes a bet with other men that his wife will be more obedient than the other women. Hortensio and Lucentio both get mocked by Petruchio for not having wives that are obedient, but when he calls for Kate to come…sure enough, she does. o The theme of susceptibility of personality change as seen through Kate’s final speech. o Key line: “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper. Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee.” The question is then, why has she spoken like this? Many possible reasons… Could argue that she has not changed—she is dominating and showing up the widow and her younger sister Bianca. So, she has gotten revenge on them by showing them up. Or, she and Petruchio have made an alliance to loot up some money from winning the bet. Could argue that she has changed… Through coercion thus, able to subscribe to all of these things about your husband as “your king” and the societal norms of the time. Being brokenspirited or depressed, almost like an inmate in this male dominated world. Repetition—it has been repeated so often that she now is accepting of all this. Nurture of being “trained” into this Education, she has come to see the wrongness of her old behavior and the rightness of this new behavior in subscribing to these “truths” from Petruchio. For her own selfinterest and advantage, such that “the best way to get along is to go along.” So, by pretending to give him his way, Kate can therefore get what she wants. For play between her and Petruchio (Dr. Shaw’s favored interpretation) – so, she is going to participate in this game because it is something between her and Petruchio and how they communicate with one another. So, they are in a relationship through this “separate sphere” from everyone else. Most unique outlook on the play—stretches even to a practical joke being played on the community and using this sort of play to make some money for the two of them and get back at people who have hurt them before.
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