Exploring Sexuality in Taming of the Shrew

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Exploring Sexuality in 'Taming of the Shrew'

Human sexuality underlies many of the happenings of 'Taming of the Shrew.' It affects the conflicts, theme, and resolution of the play. It becomes evident throughout the play that sexual behavior denotes whether a character is thought of as good or evil (not necessarily good evil as meant in conventional terms, but rather as a 'nice' character versus a 'waspish' or 'mean' character).

In the beginning of the play, there is an obvious conflict between Kate and her sister, Bianca. This conflict stems from the fact that their father favors Bianca, as well as the fact that Bianca has many suitors, while Kate has none. Kate's father, Baptista, tries to persuade some of Bianca's suitors to pursue Kate instead. However, they make it clear that none of them could desire Kate. 'Mates, maid? How mean you that? No mates for you unless you were of a gentler, milder, mold' (I,i, lines 58 - 60).

From this it is clear that the men in the play prefer a better 'mold' than Kate, in other words, she does not carry herself as well as Bianca. Kate does not play the coy flirting games, and is therefore thought of as harsher than Bianca.

Bianca, however, knows how to be flirtatious, witty, and coy around her admirers, and yet is almost intentionally mean to Kate. For instance, Bianca knows that it hurts Kate to have no suitors while she (Bianca) has several. Bianca uses this to hurt Kate. When Kate tries to find out which suitor Bianca really likes, Bianca swears that she won't take the suitor that Kate likes. She casually offers Kate whichever suitor she wants. Kate is enraged by this because she knows that the only reason that Bianca has...