taming of the shrew
Indeed, Hortentio’s assurance in the taming of the “curst shrow” Katerina seems a wonder to all the audience in the final scene of “The Taming of the Shrew.” After hurling furniture, pitching fits and assaulting her sister, Katerina delivers a speech that lauds obedience and censures rough behavior. Allegedly, this speech demonstrates Katerina’s obedience to her husband, Petruchio, who has forced her to realize the error of her former behavior. Genuine submission, however, is an unlikely disposition for Katerina to adopt. A complete reformation becomes more improbable after an examination of the scenes surrounding her “taming.” Several of these episodes attest to excellence of her acting ability. This evidence suggests her ability to impersonate the character of a tamed shrew. Her dialogue during these moments of obedience seems to mirror the language Petruchio uses earlier to tame her, suggesting that Katerina employs Petruchio’s own dissembling devices against him. Even the nuances of her language, filled with double meanings, belie her supposed transformation.
Katerina first reveals her aptitude for deception as she and Petruchio head toward Padua for her sister’s wedding. When her husband falsely labels the daylight as the “bright and goodly shining” of the moon, she immediately protests (4.5.2). However, the moment Petruchio threatens her journey home, she begins to act. In order that she fulfill her desire to return home, she pleads that they continue and vows that “be it moon, or sun, or what you please; / And if you please it be a rush-candle, / Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me” (4.5.13-15). In saying this, Katerina promises to “vow,” or claim to believe, the truth of anything Petruchio alleges. However, she never promises to actually believe him. Instead, she agrees to act according to his game, a game that he himself qualifies. When contented by Katerina’s yielding, Petruchio declares “thus the bowl shall run,” invoking the image of a ball in the game of bowling (4.5.24). This image parallels to the game he stages in which Katerina is played toward at target of a woman tamed. However, she does not submit blindly to his intentions; she plays toward achieving her own goal of returning home.
Continuing to prove her aptitude for dissembling, Katerina plays along with PetruchioR...