The Taming of the Shrew as Biblical Commentary (part 7)

Various interpreters and commentators have offered a diversity of opinions on the final scene of the play. David Bevington, a Shakespeare scholar the University of Chicago, describes the great variety of recent stage renditions of Katherine’s final monologue in his introduction to The Taming of the Shrew in the edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare which he edited:

Kate emerges in various stage productions as more or less contented, or as simply resigned, or as cruelly brainwashed, or as only playing the role of obedient wife to get what she wants.[1]

None of this, however, seems necessary in the light of Shakespeare’s use of the creation narrative of a subtext for the relationship between Petruchio and Katherine. It is quite possible, indeed much more likely, that both Katherine and Petruchio are quite happy in the relationship that they have established for themselves, a relationship that entails a mutuality of wills and a shared mastery over the world around them. Sly is the foil to Petruchio and Bianca and Hortensio’s Widow are the foils to Katherine specifically because each of them remains apart from their respective partners. Each refuses to understand and identify with his or her spouse. Katherine and Petruchio, on the other hand, have merged themselves into a marriage of perfect harmony in which neither has lost anything but each has gained the other.

[1] Bevington, Complete Works, 110.

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