At the time Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew the idealistics and attitudes to not only marriage, but also women were of a whole different nature. A woman would have had to be married to someone with the same social status. The man would indeed have to be rich and offer a safe and secure future. Marriage was based around social standings, money, trade and a way to make an alliance. At the time queen Elizabeth was on the thrown and society saw that unless a man owned property he could not vote. This meant that the average man had no vote and a wife would only be another asset to his collection. Elizabethan society saw women not as a partner or friend or an equal on the contrary, a servant, a way of making money, someone to sleep with.
An idealistic woman for Elizabethan times would be a woman who would honour obey serve and have dignity. A woman would not work or have a choice or opinion on finances or property or any important matters. At the time to have a wife who would not follow her husband’s orders and commands was a disgrace, and an embarrassment, which is the reason Petrucio went so far to tame Kate and prove everyone wrong.
A woman had to look after listen to and respect her husband. Women who were considered shrews or to have a scolding tongue, then she was considered to be the wrong material for a wife. Men would never want a woman who dared to undermine her husband. As Henry VIII said to his wife do not call me Henry that name is reserved for the bedroom. Henry VIII was Queen Elizabeth’s father and behaved the same way every other man did toward his wife. Despite all this the Elizabethan woman was intelligent with her life she adapted to the way she was anticipated to behave and let the male figure think he was “boss.” They often appeared one-way and acted another such as Bianca does in Taming of the Shrew.
Today however women have made a stand they are no longer second to anyone but instead an equal with just as much authority right and power as any other man. A few typical traditions however still remain but these are slowly dieing out as women go out to work and don’t always stay home to raise a family.
Taming of the Shrew is set in Elizabethan times in Italy with traditional views on the woman’s place in society. The play is fairly controversial, as people believe that it should not be shown as it is out of touch with society. People believe it should not be studied as its basis is extremely sexist. However I feet hat it is relevant as the play is a written piece of history. Indeed it is a piece of fiction but it reflects views of the Elizabethan times and therefore is especially important to society today so that we can move forward for if we forget the past then we don’t learn from it.
Kate’s character is a fine example of this, the way she behaved because she stood up for herself and didn’t wish to be ridiculed in the streets men didn’t find her attractive nor did they want anything to do with her. Men insulted he anywhere even her own father degraded her. For example in act 1 scene 1 line 57 Kate questions her father and whether he wishes to make a prostitute of her. She continuously stands up for herself and defends her character, even though she knows she will be ridiculed and adopts the name shrew.
Kate’s behaviour is never really explained which is why it is so hard to determine whether or not Kate is actually tamed. It is thought her behaviour is as a result of jealousy of her sister however jealousy toward her sister is because she has so many suitors and is favoured against her. Thus it is a viscous circle. Kate is upset by he not being loved, and so behaves badly however her disobedient nature makes people speak about her in disgust even more.
Kate’s behaviour consisted of her answering back, not listening to her father, she was fairly aggressive, and would not really accept anything. Kate would answer back and retaliate with equally clever and witty remarks. Kate insults Hortensio in retaliation to what he says in Act 1 scene 1 line 59-60, a sequence of events that reoccurs throughout the play with Kate being insulted then her answering back. Kate is established as a shrew early on in the play amongst some friendly banter between Bianca’s suitors. She is referred to as a fiend of hell, a prostitute, a scolding tongue and a devil. Kate’s reputation has spread so far across the hole of Padua in comparison to her sister Bianca who is thought of so highly. Thus the reason Kate has no suitors where as her sister is literally fighting them off.