Taming of the Shrew Views on Love and Mariage



As a comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare, deals with a lot of very real issues. It speaks of the winners and losers on the ‘marriage market,’ and asks us many serious moral questions. Shakespeare presents us with two main views on love and marriage - male dominance, and money - the dowry for marriage and wealth as a measurement of partner suitability. For the age in which it was written, it is an accurate depiction of love, life and marriage, but nowadays, such actions as to ‘tame a shrew,’ would not be tolerated to begin with, in the unlikely event that such a situation may ever occur.
We are presented with a battle between three wealthy men, Lucentio, Hortensio, and Gremio, for the beautiful and sweet Bianca’s hand in marriage. On the other side, there is her elder sister Katherina, a wild tongued ‘shrew,’ whom no-one will marry, let alone go near. From the beginning, Baptista, the father, verifies his case: "Gentlemen, importune me no further, for how I firmly am resolved you know. That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter before I have a husband for the elder. If either or both of you love Katherina, because I know and love you well, leave shall you have to court her at your pleasure." In this simple tale, Shakespeare yet again speaks of the times - a male dominated world, where girls grow up to their father\'s demands, and as young women, aspire to wed a suitable husband - as chosen by the father.
Shakespeare gives us a new turn on his views of love and marriage; enter Petruchio. By using two tones, light-hearted rhyme and colloquial expressions, with strong repetitions, "a devil, a devil, the devils dam," and stressed endings, tamed, cursed, Shakespeare creates an ambiance of mixed emotions. Petruchio, a strong-willed eccentric, lays down his own rules for love and marriage, including the ‘taming’ of his wife, Katherina, heralded a great success by all of Shakespeare’s characters.
It is the ‘taming’ of a woman by a man that causes concern and asks the questions of Shakespeare’s views on love and marriage. When Petruchio tells of his aim to wed, and lack of fear for the ‘stark mad and wonderfully froward’ Kate, he tells of his life experiences: "Why came I hither but to that intent? Think you a little din can daunt my ears? Have I not in my time heard lion\'s roar? Have I not heard the sea, puffed up with winds? … And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue, that gives not half so great blow to th’ear?"
Shakespeare’s other view of love and marriage, wealth and assets as the fundamentals of life, is morally incompetent. As Petruchio and Hortensio discuss these ‘fundamentals,’ Hortensio ponders like many others in the play: "Shall I then come roundly to thee, and wish thee to a shrewd, ill-favoured wife?" Again as Petruchio tells of his wealth and assets, though now to Baptista, as the two men work out the marriage plans, Petruchio asks the common question, "Then tell me, if I get your daughters love what dowry shall I have with her to wife?" Baptista replies, and he includes Shakespeare’s other love and marriage perception - male dominance. "After my death, the one half of my lands, and in possession, twenty thousand crowns." In another example of male supremacy and the superficialities of riches, Baptista tells Bianca’s suitors: "’Tis deeds must win the prize, and he of both that can assure my daughter the greatest dower shall have Bianca’s love." Yet again, the women are treated as the prize of negotiation and wealth by Shakespeare. Love isn’t natural; simply an arrangement by the father.
As the ‘taming’ begins on their wedding-day, Petruchio defends his ‘mad attire.’ "To me she’s married, not unto my clothes. Could I repair what she will wear in me as I can change these poor accouterments, ‘twere well for Kate and better for myself." Here we see the pretentiousness and a need for power, as expressed by most of Shakespeare’s characters in The Taming of the Shrew. Once the taming is underway, Tranio tells Bianca, "Petruchio is the master, that teacheth tricks …