Week 2 Class 2: Understanding Shakespeare I – Comedies

What do you think is the theme or social commentary of Taming of the Shrew? And how did Shakespeare achieve that?

I think that the theme of Taming of the Shrew is to show the gender inequality, as well as the gender stereotyping phenomenon of the society.

Through the ‘taming’ process happening between Petruchio and Katharina (as known as the ‘shrew’), the play successfully depicted the gender politics of the society, where woman being treated as a good of husband is totally reasonable. In the late 16th and early 17th century, there are laws allowing men to have violence as a tool to obtain obedience of women. Shakespeare demonstrated that the taming can be done not physically, but psychologically instead, which was in fact more effective, and helped the victim to develop a bonding with the abuser (as known as the Stockholm syndrome).

Also, the play pointed out the gender stereotyping phenomenon by creating a contrast between the shrew Katharina and her younger sister Bianca. Katharina is bold and edgy, while Bianca stays gentle and polite, that attracts more suitors than Katharina. This pointed out the generally accepted image of woman. Woman who stays gentle and polite, will be respected and become the target of men.

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