The play "The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare tells a story of love and marriage that takes place during the Elizabethean era. The two main characters of the play are Petruchio and Katharina. To the reader, Kate is depicted as a shrew; a nagging and scolding woman who refuses to abide by the rules of society. Petruchio, a man of Verona weds Kate and takes on the task to change Kate from her feared state as a bad-tempered woman into a kind-hearted gentlewoman. Using clever methods such as bending her will with kindness, matching her shrewish demeanor with quick wit and shrewish behavior of his own and reinforcing his status as a man, Petruchio is able to successfully and effectively "tame" the shrew that Kate is.
One might consider that one of Petruchio's most interesting methods to tame Kate would be the strategy he refers to as "killing a wife with kindness".
This strategy involves Petruchio treating Kate with kindness and constantly praising her even when Kate does
not return the favour. In situations where something unkind is to said, he is cleverly able
to manipulate his words to hurt Kate but makes himself look innocent. This becomes
evident when Petruchio first meets Kate where he states:
Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale.
Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morning roses newly wash'd with dew....(II.i.171-174).
The purpose of this awkward plan is plainly to get Kate to fall in love with him. He is aware of her shrewish attitude, and it is in his best interest to not knock heads with her. Although Kate does not take to it instantly, it slowly builds up over the days. Notably...