The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There is a lot misogyny in this play, but it was written at the end of the 16th century so I can forgive it. Here's what I noticed though: the play never says Petruccio strikes Katherina. Katherina, on the other hand, strikes both her very gentle sister Bianca and Petruccio. He never verbally abuses her either, saying only highly positive and romantic things to her. Petruccio does abuse Katherina by not letting her eat or sleep, and I can't defend that manipulation though it might sound like I'm about to try.
Katherina isn't just a general representative "woman." She's especially contrary, belligerent, and violent. All of this being rich, spoiled, and having very kidn family members. Petruccio is mostly interested in her money, but he seems to suspect that if her sister Beatrice is a great beauty and a gentle lady that Katherina also has this in her power. When Petruccio meets her, it seems clear that he appreciates her wit and intelligence but that he means to outmatch her. And he does woo her with his craziness even if this is mostly after their wedding instead of before.
The worst part of the play is Katherina's final speech which is really a lot to stomach. It's difficult to tell if she's deeply in love with Petruccio or suffering from some kind of Stockholm's syndrome. I suspect it's just a happy ending for the men in the audience that want the story to play out like a male fantasy.
Despite the terrible ending, I did enjoy this comedy. I think it was funny and kind of romantic and sexy. I'd be lying if I pretended my feelings about art-- or even real life-- are primarily based on feminism.
Entire play available here: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/taming_shrew/index.html
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