Text of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew An Introduction
Shakespeares Taming of the Shrew An Introduction
Essential Questions Is this play sexist, or is it just a product of its time? Is this play dealing with universal themes and is it still relevant to today?
A Really Big Shrew! Scolds, Shrews and Shakespeare
I. Putting It all In Context Literature is not created in isolation An author and his/her writing are often unconsciously influenced by or consciously engaging with the surroundings. Surroundings = century, country, culture, social norms and values, war or peace, other famous works, etc. Knowing context helps unlock a works significance; provides a richer read.
II. Contextualizing Shakespeares Shrew (1594) A.ELIZABETHAN SOCIETY Patriarchal = system in which men control property, wield power, and exercise authority both publicly (politic) and privately (domestic) Assertive women, marital conflict, and domestic disorder seen as threats to patriarchy B. WOMEN S STATUS Father or husband had authority Women had few legal rights Did not control her own property once married (couverture) Expected to be chase, silent, obedient Expected to be submissive disempowered
II. Contextualizing Shakespeares Shrew (1594) A.SHREWS According to literature from Shakespeares time, shrews were... Female Bossy and boozers Talk: too much, too loudly, too angrily for a woman Weapon: tongue (gossiping, scolding) Forced men to do womens work (cleaning, caring for children, cooking) Beat and humiliated husbands Unfaithful and/or accused husbands of being sexually useless
II. Contextualizing Shakespeares Shrew (1594) The REAL Problem? Strove for mastery when they should have been submissive Asserted their independence when should have been dependants Threatened the social hierarchy that puts men above women (see Pamphlet War!)
How To Tame A Shrew... The Punishment for Scolds Taken to court and accused of being a SCOLD Painful, frightening, and humiliating consequences THE SCOLDS BRIDLE Meant to shame Held a piece of metal against tongue so she could not speak (or swallow)
The Cucking Stool (to ridicule) woman was tied to a chair that was lowered repeatedly into the water public humiliation, and could potentially be very frightenting
THE NEIGHBOURS PARADE Meant to shame Couple lead around their neighbours to be laughed at
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Considered lower class Dub a dub, kill her with a club / Be thy wifes master - from a popular ballad Not legally prohibited unless disturbed a neighbours peace, or if wife is killed Rule of thumb comes from diameter of stick you could use to beat wife.
REMEMBER OUR ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: Is Kat a strong Shakespearean female character, or a shrew? Is this play a reflection of its time, or is it talking about classic conflicts? Is this play sexist? Is it still relevant today?