Taming of the Shrew


In the Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio recognizes, respects and 
desires Kate's intelligence and strength of character. He does not 
want to conquer or truly tame her. He is a man who is very confident 
in himself and does not want or need someone to massage his ego. 
Petruchio seems to me to be a man of sport and challenge and likes to 
surround himself with witty, challenging people. He wants in a mate 
what Kate has - fire.

 From Petruchio's response to his friend Hortensio (I.ii.64-75), 
it might be said that Petruchio came to Padua to make himself richer 
by marriage, to any woman, no matter how wretched. Petruchio is not 
in desperate need of money (I.ii.56-57). He tells Hortensio 
(I.ii.49-57) that his father has died and that he is out in the world 
to gain experiences he cannot at home and only secondarily to find a 
wife. Also, immediately before this declaration, is the scene of 
misunderstanding between he and his servant Grumio about knocking on 
the gate (I.ii.5-43). I see this exchange as demonstration of his 
enjoyment of verbal sport, a good example of Petruchio's sense of 
humor and his appreciation of things non-conventional. Though 
Petruchio may not agree with what society has determined to be proper 
and dignified, he is aware of the importance of appearing to conform. 
In what he says to Hortensio, I feel he is simply extending this sport 
and humor into the ironic.

 It is in Hortensio's description of Kate that I believe 
Petruchio's interest is captured. Hortensio describes Kate 
(I.ii.85-89) as wealthy, young, beautiful, properly brought up 
intolerably cursed, shrewed and froward. Though Hortensio finds the 
last three traits negative characteristics, Petruchio appears to be a 
man who also posses, and is proud of, these negative qualities. That 
the qualities are considered negative in Kate and not Petruchio is a 
reflection of the societal standards of the fifteen hundreds. It was 
okay for a man to be that way, but not a woman. Petruchio is the kind 
of man who would want a mate with similar qualities to his own to 
challenge him, sharpen his wits and keep his interest. If he had 
wanted someone who was conformed to societies expectations, or who had 
already determined to deceive by concealing opinions and views, he 
would have chosen someone more like Bianca. However, Petruchio is a 
clever man who sees beyond façades because he uses them, in addition 
to a lot of irony himself (II.i.46), (II.i.283-289).

 It is clear in Grumio and his other servants (as demonstrated in 
the opening of act 4 (IV.i.1-113) that Petruchio prefers the 
interesting to the conventional. But because Petruchio understands 
the ways of society, he knows he must demonstrate to Kate the 
importance of proper public appearance. To Petruchio it is appearance 
rather than genuine conformance that is important. Otherwise, the 
woman he loves would be called names and treated in ways Petruchio 
might be required by honor to defend.

 In his ironic way, Petruchio does speak consistently about making 
Kate yield to him (II.i.124,136), (II.i.269-271) and of his monetary 
motivation (II.i.123,124). But, his methods are sportsman-like 
(Falconry, (IV.i.183-190) and game-like demonstrations of the 
outrageous (beating Grumio because Kate's horse stumbled IV.i,68-80). 
 Petruchio's servants like him very well and enjoy his entertainments.
In what Petruchio says following he and Kate's first meeting (when her 
father walks in with Gremio and Tranio (II.i.269)) it becomes clear 
just how heavily Petruchio employs irony. He states that he is born 
to tame and conform Kate. Though the servants he has chosen to 
surround himself with are neither tame nor conforming to what most 
would consider proper servants. He also says he must and will have 
Katherine for his wife. This is a man who is completely taken by this 
woman: he called her properly by her formal name and says he will 
have her. Petruchio is as taken by Kate's person as the other suitors 
are taken by Bianca's beauty and coyness.

 In the above scene, Petruchio tells Kate to never make denial. 
He knows she is not yet convinced, but is telling her to trust him and 
go along with what he says for the sake of appearance. This slowly 
sinks into Kate and finally takes hold when she understands 
Petruchio's way of irony on the way home to her father's (IV.v.12-22). 
Because they are so much alike, Kate takes very quickly to Petruchio's 
games of words and irony (IV.v.37-50). Petruchio is the kind of lively 
person who would be disappointed in a victory too easily won, and 
disappointed in Kate if she were genuinely tamed. I feel certain she 
will have her victories, and Petruchio will enjoy them as much as his 

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