Is 'The Taming Of The shrew' a Sexist Play?

Essay by manurule91 May 2006

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The 'Taming of the Shrew' is set in 16th century Padua, Italy. For this play Shakespeare creates a play in a play concerning a wealthy characters, Bapista Minola, need to get his two daughters katherina and Bianca, married. It is a romantic comedy about the battle of the sexes whereas katherina, a well-spirited or 'shrewish' character, is trying to be tamed by Pertruchio, a young, greedy man from Rome, whose mind is clouded by wealth. I will be discussing whether katherina is treated in a sexist way by the other characters or not, and most importantly whether 16th and 21st century audiences are encouraged to adopt a sexist attitude.

It is clear that the first scene of the play is sexist as katherina and Bianca are treated like objects on a market stall ready to be bought and sold ' what shall I be appointed hours as though, belike, I knew not what to take and what to leave ha!' this gives the idea that Bapista is giving katherina and Bianca no choice in matters of their own, but they themselves no not what to do therefore are passed around like items on a market stall.

There is a big contrast in views, of whether this is sexist or not between the 16th century and 21st audiences. A 21st century audience may see that Bapista is being severely sexist as a woman can also make decisions in life, and therefore sympathise with katherina, and not the men and be anti sexist. The 16th century audience, on the other hand, see this scene as not sexist as it is seen as the fathers duty to find a husband for their daughter. Due to this factor the women in 21st century audience may feel the father is clearly...