Katherine’s Character Development In The Taming Of The Shrew
Ever since the beginning of time, men have been the stronger, tougher, and more controlling individual in the relationship. No man would appreciate if his wife did not listen to a single word he said, and no wife would appreciate if her husband did not listen to a single word that they have said either. Katherine is one of these women that chose not to listen to her husband. Katherine is a shrew. She is spoken about by men terribly, as if no one dares have any sort of love for her. Not even her father can speak well on her name. Baptista, Katherine’s father talks to the gentleman in Padua about how reckless and rude his daughter acts towards him and others. Kate does change throughout the play, her personality and actions will change, thanks to her husband Petruchio.
Throughout William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio manages to help his wife change and become the woman that he had always wanted. Petruchio’s “help” made Kate very mad and extremely annoyed. She did not realize that everything Petruchio was doing was going to help her in the end. Kate was starved and sleep deprived by Pertuchio in order for there to be a change in her actions. In act 4 scene 2 Petruchio states, “She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat. Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not…… that all is done in reverend care of her”. Petruchio was teaching Kate a lesson, that is she wanted the things that he had she would have to show a little respect. After being teased by servant Grumio about a nice meal of mustard and beef Kate is becoming very annoyed and hungry. “Go, get thee gone, thou false deluding slave, that feed’st me with the very name of meat”. Grumio left the room and did not return, but Petruchio was there in a heartbeat with a nice surprise for her. In act 4, scene 3, Petruchio brought a delicious piece of meat in for Kate to eat. He would not let Kate eat until she had thanked him for the delicious meal. “I thank you, sir” spoke Kate to Petruchio, knowing that getting what she wanted was going to be a lot easier from now on. Getting Kate to say thank you for her meal was an accomplishment that Petruchio thought was worth celebrating. This thankyou was only a small act of kindness though, there was a lot more to come out of Kate further into the play.
Petruchio will start to play more tricks on Katherine that will get her to be a gracious young lady. He does not realize though, that Kate is doing all of these good acts in order to get something in return. She knows that Petruchio wants her to be friendly, so that is what she does in order to get what she needs. In act 5 scene 2, when Petruchio calls for his wife, she actually shows up. Biana and the Widow chose not to listen to their husbands, and stay back by the fire. Katherine tells who speech about the right way to treat a man. She ends her speech with the words, “Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare, That seeming to be most which we indeed least are. Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot, And place your hands below your husband’s foot; In token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready, may it do him ease”. Katherine has just explained to Lucentio and Hortensio’s wives that in order to keep a strong relationship with your significant other you need to act on his duty. As she puts her hand down below Petruchio’s foot, he realizes that what he has done has completed her.
Kate’s development throughout this play is just her noticing that if she follows what Petruchio says, she will get something she wants in return. Her development is self-initiated. In act 5 scene 2 when Katherine is the first wife to come running to his beckon call we know that something is up. “What is your will, sir, that you send for me?” (Shakespeare 215). Katherine comes in so politely asking what Petruchio's needs of her. If Kate was not getting anything in return for being so kind and generous towards her husband, she would not be acting like this. It is inferred that her development is self-initiated just by the way that she had acted upon these same scenarios before.
- Shakespeare, William. The Taming of The Shrew.