SHakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"

Essay by ihateskeezers17High School, 12th gradeA+, February 2003

download word file, 2 pages 4.2 2 reviews

Downloaded 72 times

In the Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, the conveyed theme

is to never judge a book by it's cover, or rather a person by their appearance. This theme

is demonstrated through relationships. Shakespeare first shows the relationship between

Bianca and Katherine, next the relationship between Petruchio and Kate, and finally

between Lucentio and Bianca. Through these relationships Shakespeare shows the reader

how first impressions do not necessarily mean a permanent character flaw.

Bianca and Katherine are at each other's throat because a rule imposed by

their father that the young beautiful Bianca could not marry until her older shrew sister

Kate did. In the beginning of this play Katherine literally loathes Bianca, she even goes to

the extreme of physical abuse. "I prithee, sister Kate, untie my hands. [Katherine] strikes

her" (The Taming of the Shrew pg 75). It would seem to the reader that Bianca should be

the perfect example for Kate to follow.

Why not? She's beautiful, sweet, but most

importantly, obedient. A quality every perfect wife should strive to attain. The irony

comes when later at the end of the play the most obedient wife is Katherine. Not only

that, Kate teaches Bianca to be as obedient as her. "Katherine, I charge thee tell these

headstrong women what duty they owe their lords and husbands" (Shrew 217). And like

the Kate we knew in the beginning of the play, Bianca refuses to hear it.

The second relationship Shakespeare introduces to us is that of Petruchio

and Katherine. Petruchio hears of Kate's foul reputation, yet he still sets out to win her.

"[Hortensio] Here is a gentleman whom by chance I met, upon agreement from us to

his liking, has set out to woo curst Katherine, yea, and to marry her, if her dowry please"

(Shrew 61). After meeting Katherine, and seeing that the talk was true, Kate really was

shrew and perverse, Petruchio still proposes marriage. Although the offer is denied

Petruchio still convinces Kate's father that she accepted gladly. Everyone believed that

Kate would be a terrible disobedient wife, but on the contrary, when put to the test, she

proves to be the perfect wife. Petruchio molded her into the epitome of perfection and


The third and final relationship we see is Lucentio and Bianca's. Lucentio

believes that Bianca would be best suited for his wife. "But see, while idly I stood

looking on, I found the effect of love-in-idleness" (Shrew 41). Although by first meeting

and looks, Bianca seems to be the girl of every guy's dreams, she shows everyone she is

not. Bianca disobeys her father and elopes rather than being open about her relationship.

Bianca also, once married, disobeys her husband. In the final scene of the play Lucentio,

Hortensio, and Petruchio all send for their wives in a bet to see which one will come first.

The only obedient wife who comes to the call is Katherine. "Nay, I will win my wager

better yet, and show more sign of her obedience, her new-built virtue and obedience"

(Shrew 217). The reader's views of perfection and shrew have now changed.

In the play The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare accurately demonstrates

how by first impressions you can not judge a persons character because their personality

will not always be what you perceive it to be. This lesson can be applied to today in many

ways. This is a theme teens and adults all over can relate to. This can teach people to look

deeper and you may find something you like rather than being turned off by a first