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Katharines Transformation in Taming of the Shrew

Katharine’s Transformation From Shrew To Contented Housewife – Taming Of The Shrew

Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy, which traces the transformation of Katharina, an ill-tempered shrew to a contented housewife. Katharina has long been overshadowed in beauty by her younger sister Bianca and has developed a deep resentment for her and for society as a whole. Petruchio, by no means a normal suitor is able to transform her by persisting, as no man has yet to do for her. Finally, Katharina realizes that she would be happiest being subservient to her husband. Petruchio is able to transform Katharina from an irritable shrew to a satisfied housewife.

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Katharina develops into a shrew because of her deep resentment for her sister. Bianca is well known across Padua for her beauty, while Katharina is famous for her bad-temper,

Hortensio: Her name is Katharina Minola,

Renown’d in Padua for her scolding tongue (P.22)

This resentment grows deeper, as evident in the play that Bianca has three suitors, all of whom are very rich; while Katharina has only one suitor (who is paid to court her). Katharina feels as though she will never marry, and must therefore be strong and self-reliant. In addition to her resentment for her sister, comes her resentment for her father. Baptista seems to be very partial towards Bianca; Baptista treats her like a prize while he treats Katharina like a burden. Katharina becomes a shrew due to her jealousy of her sister, and the neglect of her father.

Petruchio reforms Katharina by using self-assured persistence. Gremio and Hortensio promise to pay the cost of Petruchio’s wooing and Petruchio promise that he will wed Katharina. When Katharina first meets Petruchio, she yells and curses him. However, Petruchio persists and eventually wins her over by demonstrating his carefree nature. He shows up to his own wedding in rags,

Biondello: Why Petruchio is coming in a new hat and

an old jerkin, a pair of breeches thrice turned,

one buckled, another laced, an old rusty sword ta’en out of the

town-armoury, with a broken hilt, and chapless . . . . . . (P.46)

His technique has to be different from other suitors, most suitors woo by demonstrating courage, or by compassion. If Petruchio had shown these qualities to Katharina, they would have been thrown into a marriage where Petruchio would have to constantly endue Katharina’s tongue-lashings. Therefore Petruchio shows her that he loves her by persisting that he will marry her even when she says her worst to him.

Katharina finally converts to a subservient partner in the conclusion of the play. During her speech, she claims that she is doing what she should do, that women are made to be compliant to their husbands.

Katharina: I am ashamed that women are so simple

To offer war where they should kneel for peace;

Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,

When they are bound to serve, love and obey.

Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,

Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,

But that our soft conditions and our heart

Should well agree with our external parts? (P. 85-86)

Rather than considering herself giving up inherent human freedoms, she believes that she is doing as she is meant to do. Ironically, in the conclusion to the play, the newlywed husbands call to their wives and the only one to come is Katharina. That scene is one of Shakespeare’s uses of irony to add to the comedy of the play. Katharina is finally transformed from a bad-tempered shrew into a content housewife at the end of the play.

Shakespeare’s comedy describes this transformation, of Katharina the shrew into Katharina the housewife. Katharina lets go of her resentment of her father and sister, due to Petruchio’s persistence. She finally realizes that it is her duty to comply with the will of her husband, and she does so voluntarily.

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Katharines Transformation in Taming of the Shrew. (2021, Mar 03). Retrieved July 12, 2021, from