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Taming of the Shrew Research Papers

Shakespeare wrote many great plays that contained clear and important themes to examine. The Taming of the Shrew is a frequently studied comedy that challenges a student to embrace the difficulty of the text and explore each character. From Katherine to Baptista, the characters of the play are rich and complex. Shakespeare develops them expertly and gives one of world literature's best example of character construction in of classical writing. Get help writing your research project on any work of Shakespeare, not just the comedies but all he plays and sonnets.

Important Themes in Shakespeare's Shrew

Taming of the ShrewThese are important themes that you need to discuss in a research paper on Taming of the Shrew. In The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, conflict and misunderstanding form the foundation of delightfully comedic theater.  The various ruses being played out by different characters, assumed identities, and differential levels of cognizance regarding the complicated combinations of truth and fiction simultaneously operating challenge the omniscient audience throughout the play. The audience must be active in their participating with the story or they might lose track of the misunderstanding that are constantly developing.  


The enduring Shakespearean Comedy, Taming of the Shrew, has several important themes, among which are:

  1. The hurtful nature of shrewish behavior
  2. Male domination
  3. Appearance versus reality


Interestingly, the first misunderstanding is not directly connected with the overall plot of The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare.  In the introduction, Christopher Sly is misled by an adventurous Lord.  The drunken Sly is told that he has been mad for the last fifteen years.  A page takes on the role of Sly’s wife; the boy pretends to be a woman.  Convinced he is the Lord of the home he is in, he becomes desiring of his “wife.”  The actors involved in the ruse carry him away to watch the play The Taming of the Shrew.

Character Construction in Taming of the Shrew

Katherine (or Katherina), the eldest daughter of the rich man, Baptista, is known in Padua as The Shrew because of her uncontrollable temper and her free-spirited nature. Even Baptista is cowed by his daughter’s temper and her cruel, harsh ways.

Bianca, Katherine’s younger sister, is the exact opposite in temperament, and Shakespeare uses her to make Kate’s character even stronger and undesirable. One of Bianca’s suitors, Gremio, says of Katherine: “Katherine the Curst, a title for a maid, of all titles the worst” (Act I, Scene 2). Before we even really get to know Katherine, we, too, are somewhat intimidated by her strong, indomitable will.

When Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, visits Katherine (he is in search of a rich wife), he immediately calls her “Kate.” This can mean Petruchio was using a diminutive term of endearment for Katherine or was simply introducing the first stage of her eventual “taming”: “Good morrow, Kate—for that’s your name, I hear.” Katherine’s biting response is (Act II, Scene 1):

“Well, you have heard, but something hard of hearing. They call me Katherine that do talk of me”.

Petruchio, however, reinforces his name for Katherine and tries to soften her by saying she is “the prettiest Kate in Christondom, Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate…” (Act II, scene 1). Petruchio also was speaking contemptuously, for in Elizabethan times “dainties” had several meanings. Women so-called could be those who scratch like a cat, are spiteful, or are even prostitutes. Thus, Petruchio was showing he knew of Katherine’s reputation and was announcing he was going to do something about it.

By introducing the strong-willed Petruchio, who announces himself by his words as being every bit as determined as Katherine, Shakespeare also segues from the showing of spiteful behavior as inappropriate to the second theme, that of male domination. In Act I, Scene 2, Petruchio announces that Katherine’s shrewish reputation strikes no fear in him. After all, he has experienced battle and rage from others that make Katherine’s shrewish nature a mere trifle:

“And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue, that gives not half so great a blow to hear as will a chestnut in a farmer’s fire?”

Petruchio ultimately succeeds in his stated intent to conquer Katherine, though he himself changes by the end of the play. Though he first wanted nothing more than a rich wife, Petruchio slowly falls in love with Katherine. She, in turn, begins losing her propensity for shrewish behavior and eventually becomes the submissive, obedient wife. She is tamed by the end of the play, at least to some extent.

However, it is also Petruchio who is “tamed”, for Kate is really still playing her own game, by her own rules. By acting the way Petruchio wants at the end, she is still getting what she wants. In her final speech, Katherine says what she has learned in being “tamed” by Petruchio, beginning with:

“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper; thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee.” But finally, she says (shrewishly?): “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”.

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