Multiple Heroes in The Taming of the Shrew




Multiple Heroes in The Taming of the Shrew

Throughout Shakespeare\'s The Taming of the Shrew, it is easy to see that a great
responsibility is put on Petruchio for his efforts in having to tame the shrew, Katherine.
With this responsibility also came admiration when his goal was finally achieved. Because
of this admiration for taming a shrew, Petruchio is the character most looked upon as a
"hero" in this play. However, I believe that although Petruchio can be looked upon as a
hero, Katherine and Bianca also have good arguments as to how they are heroes also
because of the drastic ways they changed as people. In my eyes, The Taming of the
Shrew has more than one hero, in fact, there are multiple heroes.
The most obvious hero in this Shakespearean play is Petruchio. Petruchio, upon
setting foot in Padua, has announced that he has come "Happily to wive and thrive as best
I may" (Dolan 63). He is looking for a wife, and feels like he has much to offer.
Hortensio jokingly tells Petruchio about Katherine, the shrew, which immediately sparks
Petruchio\'s interest in the wealthy, fiery woman. After Petruchio and Katherine\'s first
meeting in Act II, Scene I, Petruchio says this: "For I am he born to tame you, Kate, And
bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate Comformable as other household Kates....I must and
will have Katharine to my wife" (Dolan 83). This is where the story begins.
When the story comes to an end, in the last few scenes, it is obvious that Katherine
has now been tamed. Petruchio has accomplished what he has set out to do by taming her
the way he would tame a pet falcon. He says in Act IV, Scene 1, in reference to treating
her like a falcon, "This is the way to kill a wife with kindness; And thus I\'ll curb her mad
and headstrong humor. He that knows better how to tame a shrew, Now let him speak.
\'Tis charity to show" (Dolan 107). By starving Katherine, not letting her sleep, and
torturing her with new clothes that are "not good enough" for her, Petruchio has shown
that he is a hero. He did the impossible when he married and tamed Katherine.
Even though some people, women in particular, are likely to say that Petruchio
isn\'t a hero because that is not a decent way to treat a human being; a person can\'t argue
with the fact that by the end of the play, Katherine is a different person. She is no longer
rude, obnoxious, or disobedient. In fact, she is a well-respected, well-mannered woman,
who is capable of having a mutual, loving relationship. No one else in Katherine\'s life has
been able to change her headstrong, "shrewish," ways, but Petruchio was able to do this,
making him a perfect hero for the play.
On the other hand, I believe that it can be argued that Katherine was also a hero in
her own way. After being treated second best her entire life, it is understandable why she
acts the way she does. She wants attention for herself, especially from her father who
adores her younger, more obedient sister, Bianca. Katherine has such an awful reputation
that when Hortensio learns that Petruchio is interested in marrying her he tries to warn
Petruchio off by saying: "Her only fault, and that is faults enough, Is that she is intolerable
curst And shrewd, and froward, so beyond all measure That, were my state far worser that
it is, I would not wed her for a mine of gold" (Dolan 65). Basically Katherine is known
for being a shrew that could never be tamed, nor would anyone ever want to try.
Katherine does not help herself or her reputation when Petruchio does start
courting her. In their first conversation, witty, insulting, humorous dialogue flows
between them freely, which shows Katherine\'s shrewish temperament. When Petruchio
tells Katherine to come sit on him, she replies with, "Asses are made to bear, and so are
you" (Dolan 79). Another response is, "If I be waspish, best beware my sting" (80). And,
when Petruchio tells her that they will be married on Sunday, she responds with, "I\'ll see
thee hanged on Sunday first" (84). Katherine puts on a great display of the reasons she is
considered such a shrew.
However, by the end of the play, Katherine is a completely changed woman. She
has seen that the way Petruchio is treating her