Is Katherine Really Tamed



Imagine marrying an uncontrollable woman and receiving the challenge to tame her. How strenuous would that be? As difficult as it sounds, it became reality in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The notorious shrew changes her behavior from being the rude and unmanageable Katherine to the obedient wife Kate! Katherine’s unexpected and sincere transformation was the result of her heart’s desire to be loved and respected by Petruchio.
Katherine is called the “shrew” by many, including her father. Being the ultimate uncontrollable woman, she fits that description very well. Constantly responding with rejection and violence, she is rude to anyone and everyone. Katherine is filled with words of violence in the first act. “To comb your noddle with three-legged stool/And paint your face, and use you like a fool (Shrew I.i.64:65).” After being scolded by Hortensio for her temper, Katherine defends herself and threatens to hit him on the head with a stool. Katherine’s temper continues through the following act. She binds her sister’s hands and torments her. Accused of jesting, Katherine strikes Bianca. “If that be jest, then all the rest was so. Strikes her (Shrew II.i.22).” Later, she becomes irritated during music lessons and strikes Licio with the lute, “breaking his head.” Katherine is clearly a total shrew, as violent as can be, and very not lady-like. She has to have her way, doing whatever she needs to get what it is that she wants. At this point, it does not seem that even God can control her.
Katherine is emotionally a shrew but does not dare to act on it. She strikes Petruchio during their first conversation, and Petruchio responds quickly saying, “I swear I’ll cuff you if you strike again (Shrew II.i.216).” Although she is angry with Petruchio, Katherine does not respond with her usual shrewish manner. She is not stupid and will not attempt to fight someone that’s much stronger than her. After she was threatened, Katherine remained calm while anger fills inside her saying, “So may you lose your arms (Shrew II.i.217).” Katherine does not give up easily. She obeys Petruchio by not striking again, but deep down she despises him for threatening her and forcing her to obey.
Katherine’s feelings toward Petruchio soon change. “Marry, so I mean, sweet Katherine, in thy bed/Thy beauty that doth make me like thee well—(Shrew II.i.259:266).” As Petruchio treat Katherine with affection, calling her “sweet” and describing her “beauty,” she begins to like the attention. Katherine is not used to Petruchio’s treatment of kindness. Nobody has ever treated Katherine with love before. Because Petruchio acknowledges her importance, she is more open with him and responds differently towards him. Every person that has previously tried to tame Katherine has failed because they do not know her weakness. Because Petruchio is kind and gentle with Katherine, she knows how it is like to be loved and treated as a queen. She longs for that treatment and has a sincere heart to change her evil ways.
Petruchio forces Katherine to re-examine her ways when he becomes more shrewish, noisy, and rude than her. After being left starved and hungry for days, Petruchio finally brings her something to eat. Katherine is grateful and thanks him saying, “I thank you, sir (Shrew IV.iii.47).” Later when Petruchio does not appear on time for his wedding, Katherine thinks that Petruchio never really intended to marry her, and she leaves in tears. “Would Katherine had never seen him, though. Exit weeping. (Shrew III.ii.26).” Katherine does not understand this transition and is confused as to why Petruchio would love her one minute and punish her the next. Katherine loved how Petruchio previously gave her attention and is very saddened to think Petruchio did not want to marry her. She blames herself thinking it was probably something that she did for him not to return to her. In this scene, Katherine is determined to change her ways by loving and obeying Petruchio. She does not want to be a shrew anymore. Instead, she wants to be loved and respected by Petruchio.
By the end of the fourth act, Katherine has completely turned around. She accepts and agrees on anything and everything Petruchio tells her. Petruchio remarks how bright the moon is, and Katherine corrects