Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Taming of the Shrew Act 5, Scene 2


sadly, i had to finish reading the play without Seany because he had to work, but finish i did. i was a little shocked at the ending. for some reason, this is not at all what i remembered from my 10+ years ago reading. check it out...

act 5, scene 2
pretty much everyone arrives at Lucentio's house for a wedding banquet for Lucentio and Bianca. everything seems perfect, all problems have been solved. Bianca, Kate, and the Widow (Hortensio's wife) all exit and the men get to talking. Baptista tells Petruchio that he has the most shrewish wife of all. Petruchio disagrees. the men then bet 100 crowns on it. Lucentio sends Biondello to fetch Bianca but she won't come. Hortensio sends Biondello to fetch the Widow, but she won't come. Petruchio sends Grumio to fetch Katharina, and no one thinks she will come. but she does. then Petruchio sends Kate to drag Bianca and the Widow back in, which she does. Baptista awards him with another 20,000 crowns, "another dowry to another daughter." Petruchio brags that he will show off her "obedience" even more. he tells her he doesn't like her hat and tells her to take it off. she immediately does so. he tells her to tell Bianca and the Widow how they should treat their husbands. she tells them that their husbands are their lords and they must not cause them any bit of trouble. (see quote below.) Petruchio is happy and takes Kate off to bed. Lucentio and Hortensio are left to deal with their troublesome wives.

it's so interesting how this has all developed. i feel like a lot of Shakespeare's plays so far have featured unruly women of one sort or another. we've had the Princess in Love's Labor's Lost, Margaret in the Henry plays, Sylvia in Two Gentlemen of Verona, etc. they've been such fun to read. it's seemed so far like Shakespeare was ahead of his time in his depiction of these headstrong, ambitious, independent characters. then we get to Kate. and it can be argued that she is considered to be the most unruly of the unruly women. she is celebrated as a character for that feature. and yet she is the one who completely kowtows to the man. our queen of unruly is the one who fell the hardest. it's almost embarassing.
was Kate miserable before? maybe. but she was independent. is she happier now? unclear. she seems just as lost as she ever was. i find it tragic. i mean, check out the quote below if you're not with me on this. Kate is a woman who has no idea who she is or what she wants. it is easier to obey her husband, and that's why she does so. she is trained. if she doesn't, she will be punished as she was earlier in the play. Petruchio will deprive her of food, sleep, her family, companionship, clothing, sanity, etc. making choices based on fear? that's not happiness. that's an abusive relationship. i don't know what we're meant to get out of this play, but that's what i got.
the only glimmer of hope was that maybe Bianca was breaking out of the chains a little bit and finally starting to stand up for herself. the way that it was meant, however, didn't really put a positive spin on this situation. i perceive it that way, but within the play it's portrayed as a 'Lucentio is totally screwed because his wife doesn't do everything he says' kind of way.
this play just seems strange and out of place to me in context with Shakespeare's other work so far. up to this point we have seen Shakespeare portray a misogynistic world, but i've never felt that those sentiments were his own. this play might cross that line for me.
what do you think?

quote of the day:
'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 hearts
should well agree with our external parts?'

9 plays, 4 poems, 23 sonnets down. 29 plays, 1 poem, 131 sonnets to go.

for tomorrow: sonnets 24-29

-rebecca may

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