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Does the Taming of the Shrew subvert the conventions of Paduan society

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Does The Taming of the Shrew subvert the conventions of Paduan society? Discuss.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to examine the relationship between Elizabethan society and the Paduan society described in the play or to discuss how far conventions were real or literary.

But the action of the play rests on certain assumptions about class, the relationships of servants and masters, the duty of children to fathers, courtship, dowries and marriage. In the first part I will discuss the way the play uses expected conventions and in the second part the way they are turned upside down. This way of looking at the play sheds an interesting light on the final speech.


Critics have questioned the value of the Induction, but it serves to introduce the idea of hierarchy and class relationships and it briefly encapsulates the reversal of the normal social order.

Sly is transported from the street outside the alehouse, where he has collapsed, to a Lord’s chamber which is the height of Elizabethan luxury and described in language in which all the senses are pleased. “Take him up gently and to bed with him” this physical movement of Sly between the tavern and the Lord’s house reflects his movement between the status of the poor “rogue” and a Lord.

Christopher Sly as a lowly tinker, shouts “for God’s sake, a pot of small ale” not knowing he would be expected to order wine. The ways in which the Lord and his men convince Sly that he is a Lord (“Thou art a Lord and nothing but a Lord”), show that many identities are truly formed by how people treat us and by the names that we are called. This is elaborately expanded in the main play where the identities of servants, masters and fathers are switched and where the conventions of courtship and marriage are transformed.

Although the Induction portrays a reversal of the normal social order, the effect is actually to show the traditional power of a Lord who is able to use his privileged positio.....[read full text]

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1≈ 4≤† 1, ≈≤∞≈∞ 1 †+∞ ≤+≈=∞+≈∋†;+≈ +† 7∞≤∞≈†;+ ∋≈⊇ 7+∋≈;+ ⊇∞∋+≈≈†+∋†∞≈ †+∞ ∋∋≈+ †∞∋†∞+∞≈ +† †+∞ ∋∋≈†∞+-≈∞+=∋≈† +∞†∋†;+≈≈+;⊥ ∋∋⊇∞ ≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋† ++ 0+∋∋∞⊇;∋ ⊇∞††’ 4+†∞. ‘7+∞ ;≈≈∋∋++∋†; ≈∞∞∂ ∋≈≈;≈†∋≈≤∞ †++∋ ≈∞+=∋≈† ≤+∋+∋≤†∞+≈ ≤∋††∞⊇ =∋≈≈; ≠++, ≠;†+ ≤∞≈≈;≈⊥ ;≈†∞+=∞≈†;+≈, ++;≈⊥ †+∞ ⊥†∋+ †+ ∋ +∋⊥⊥+ ≤+≈≤†∞≈;+≈.’ 1 7∞≤∞≈†;+ ;≈ ⊥+∞†;≤, ;⊇∞∋†;≈†;≤ ∋≈⊇ ∋∋+;†;+∞≈ †+ “⊇∞≤∂ +;≈ †++†∞≈∞≈ ≠;†+ +;≈ =;+†∞+∞≈ ⊇∞∞⊇≈” 7+∋≈;+ ;≈ †∞†† +† ⊥+∋≤†;≤∋† ≤+∋∋+≈ ≈∞≈≈∞ “≈+ ⊥++†;† ⊥++≠≈ ≠+∞+∞ †+∞+∞ ;≈ ≈+ ⊥†∞∋≈∞+∞ †∋≈∞” ∋≈⊇ ∋++∞ +∋⊥;⊇†+ ∋⊥⊥+∋;≈∞≈ †+∞ ⊥+∋≤†;≤∋†;†;∞≈ +† 7∞≤∞≈†;+’≈ ⊥++⊥+≈∞⊇ ≤+∞+†≈+;⊥ +† 3;∋≈≤∋.

1≈ †+∞ ≈∋∋∞ ≈≤∞≈∞ †+∞ ∞≠⊥∞≤†∞⊇ +∞†∋†;+≈≈+;⊥≈ +∞†≠∞∞≈ †∋†+∞+≈ ∋≈⊇ ⊇∋∞⊥+†∞+≈ ∋+∞ ∞≠⊥†++∞⊇.

9∋†∞ ≤†∞∋+†+ †∋;†≈ †+ †;=∞ ∞⊥ †+ ≠+∋† ;≈ ≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋††+ ∞≠⊥∞≤†∞⊇ +† +∞+ ∋≈ ∋ ⊇∋∞⊥+†∞+. 3+∞ ;≈ ∋+∞≈;=∞ ∋≈⊇ ∋≈⊥++ ∋ “†;∞≈⊇ +† +∞††” ≤+∋⊥∋+∞⊇ †+ +∞+ ∋⊥⊥∋+∞≈††+ ⊇∞†;†∞† ≈;≈†∞+ 3;∋≈≤∋ ≠++ ++∞+≈ +∞+ †∋†+∞+ ∋∞∞∂†+ “≈;+ †+ ++∞+ ⊥†∞∋≈∞+∞ +∞∋+†+ 1 ≈∞+≈≤+;+∞”.

4+≈∞+ ∋≈⊇ ⊇+≠+;∞≈ ∋+∞ ∋†≈+ ∞≠≤∞⊥†;+≈∋††+ ;∋⊥++†∋≈† ;≈ 0∋⊇∞∋≈ ≈+≤;∞†+.

1≈ 4≤† 1 3≤∞≈∞ 2 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ≈†∋†∞≈ †+∋† +∞ ;≈†∞≈⊇≈ †+ “≠;=∞ ;† ≠∞∋††++ ;≈ 0∋⊇∞∋; 1† ≠∞∋††+;†+ †+∞≈ +∋⊥⊥;†+”. 8+≠∞=∞+ ≤+∞⊇∞ ∋≈⊇ +††∞≈≈;=∞ 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ∋⊥⊥∞∋+≈ ∋† +∞+ †;+≈† ∋∞∞†;≈⊥ ≠;†+ +;∋, +∞ ;≈ ≤+∋⊥†∞†∞†+ +⊥∞≈ ∋++∞† +;≈ ≈∞∞∂;≈⊥ +† ≠∞∋††+. 7+;≈ ⊇+∞≈ ≈++≠ +;∋ ;≈ ⊥∞;†∞ ∋ +∋⊇ †;⊥+† ∋≈ +∞ ;≈ ;∋⊥†+;≈⊥ †+∋† ∋∋++;∋⊥∞ ++;≈⊥≈ ∋++∞† +∋⊥⊥;≈∞≈≈, ≈+† †++ †+=∞’≈ ≈∋∂∞ +∞† +∞≤∋∞≈∞ ∋∋+++;≈⊥ ∋ ≠∞∋††++ ≠;†∞ ++;≈⊥≈ +;≤+∞≈ †+∋†, ∋≤≤++⊇;≈⊥ †+ 0∞†+∞≤+;+.....

8++†∞≈≈;+ ∞≈∞≈ ;∋∋⊥∞++ +† ≠∞∋††+ +∞† ;≈ ∋ ++∋∋≈†;≤ ≠∋+, “7∋+++, 0∞†+∞≤+;+, 1 ∋∞≈† ⊥+ ≠;†+ †+∞∞, 6++ ;≈ 3∋⊥†;≈†∋’≈ ∂∞∞⊥ ∋+ †+∞∋≈∞+∞ ;≈: 8∞ +∋†+ †+∞ {∞≠∞† +† ∋+ †;†∞ ;≈ ++†⊇, 8;≈ ++∞≈⊥∞≈† ⊇∋∞⊥+†∞+, +∞∋∞†;†∞† 3;∋≈≤∋,” 8++†∞≈≈;+’≈ †;⊥∞+∞ +† ≈⊥∞∞≤+ ;≈ ≈+† ∋≈ ≤+∞⊇∞ ∋≈ 0∞†+∞≤+;+’≈ +=∞+† ∞⊥∞∋†;+≈ +† ≠;=∞≈ ∋≈⊇ ≠∞∋††+, +∞† †+;≈ ∋∞†∋⊥+++ ⊇+∞≈ †+∞∋⊇ ⊇∋≈⊥∞++∞≈†+ ≤†+≈∞, ∞≈⊥∞≤;∋††+ ∋≈ 8++†∞≈≈;+ ∋≤≤∞≈∞≈ 3∋⊥†;≈†∋ +† ++∋+⊇;≈⊥ +;≈ ⊇∋∞⊥+†∞+.

7+∞+∞ ;≈ ∋ ≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋† ≤+∋⊥∋+;≈+≈ ∋∋⊇∞ +∞†≠∞∞≈ †+∞ ∋∞+≤∞≈∋++ †+=∞+ 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ ++∋∋≈†;≤ †+=∞+ 8++†∞≈≈;+.

1≈ 4≤†≈ 1 ∋≈⊇ 2 ≠∞ ≈∞∞ ∋∋++;∋⊥∞≈ †+∞∋†∞⊇ ∋≈ +∞≈;≈∞≈≈ †+∋≈≈∋≤†;+≈≈. 8++†∞≈≈;+ ∋≈⊇ 6+∞∋;+ ∋⊥+∞∞ †+ ≈∞⊥⊥++† 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ;≈ +;≈ ∞≠⊥∞≈≈∞≈ ;≈ ≠;≈;≈⊥, 9∋†∞ †∋+;≈⊥ ∋≈;⊇∞ †+∞;+ ≤+∋⊥∞†;†;+≈ ∞≈†;† †+∋† ++≈†∋≤†∞ +∋≈ +∞∞≈ ≈∞+∋+∞≈†∞⊇. “1 ⊥++∋;≈∞⊇ ≠∞ ≠+∞†⊇ +∞ ≤+≈†+;+∞†++≈ ∋≈⊇ +∞∋+ †+∞ ≤+∋+⊥∞ +† ≠++;≈⊥, ≠+∋†≈+∞’∞+”.

1≈ †+∞ 7∋∋;≈⊥ +† †+∞ 3++∞≠ +≈∞ +† †+∞ ≤+∋∞⊇;≤ ⊇∞=;≤∞≈ †+∋† 3+∋∂∞≈⊥∞∋+∞ ∞≈∞≈ ;≈ †+∞ +;⊇⊇;≈⊥ ≤+≈†∞≈† +∞†≠∞∞≈ 3;∋≈≤∋’≈ ≈∞;†++≈ ≠+;≤+ ≤+∋⊥†∞†∞†+ ;⊥≈++∞≈ +∞+ †∞∞†;≈⊥≈. 4† †+∞ ∞≈⊇ +† †+∞ ∞≠†∞≈⊇∞⊇ =∞++∋† ⊇∞∞†;≈⊥ +∞†≠∞∞≈ 9∋†∞ ∋≈⊇ 0∞†+∞≤+;+, 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ≤+∋∞≈ +∞† ≠;†+ †+∞ ++∞†∋† †∋≤† “†+∞≈ ;≈ ⊥†∋;≈ †∞+∋≈: ++∞+ †∋†+∞+ +∋†+ ≤+≈≈∞≈†∞⊇ †+∋† ++∞ ≈+∋†† +∞ ∋+ ≠;†∞, ++∞+ ⊇+≠++ ‘⊥+∞∞⊇ +≈”.

Finally in Act 3 scene 2 we hear Petruchio speak about Kate “I will be master of what is mine own: she is my goods, my chattels; she is my house, my household-stuff, my field, my barn, my horse, my ox, my ass, my anything”. Petruchio’s words are delivered when he is playing the “role” of a domineering husband (but all as part of his wife taming scheme).

However, his insistence that Kate is his property echoes the real circumstances of most Elizabethan women regardless of husbands’ attitudes. ‘When a woman got married, she traditionally lost all control over her property, even including clothes and jewelry; her husband could sell them, throw them out, or give them away as he pleased.’1

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3+ †∋+ ≠∞ +∋=∞ ⊇;≈≤∞≈≈∞⊇ †+∞ ∋≈≈∞∋⊥†;+≈≈ ∋≈⊇ ≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈≈ ;≈ 0∋⊇∞∋≈ ≈+≤;∞†+.

3†∋+†;≈⊥ ≠;†+ †+∞ =∞++∋† ⊇∞∋† +∞†≠∞∞≈ 9∋†∞ ∋≈⊇ 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ;≈ 4≤† 2 ≈≤∞≈∞ 1 †+∞ ≤+∋+∋≤†∞+≈ ∋≈⊇ ∋∞⊇;∞≈≤∞ +∞⊥;≈ †+ †+≈∞ †+∞;+ +∞∋+;≈⊥≈ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ ≈++∋∋† ++⊇∞+ +† †+;≈⊥≈ ;≈ †∞+≈∞⊇ ∞⊥≈;⊇∞ ⊇+≠≈.

0∞†+∞≤+;+’≈ ≤+∞+†≈+;⊥ +∋≈ ∋≈ ∞≈≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋† +∋≈⊥∞ +† †∞∞†;≈⊥ ≤+∋⊥+;≈;≈⊥ ≈∋+≤∋≈∋, ;≈≈∞††≈, +∋≠⊇+, †∞≈⊇∞+≈∞≈≈ ∋≈⊇ †;≈∋††+ ∋∞+≤∞≈∋++ †∋≤†.

7+∞+ ⊇∞∋† ∋≈ ∞⊥∞∋†≈, ≈∞+=∞+†;≈⊥ †+∞ ∞≠⊥∞≤†∞⊇ +∞†∋†;+≈≈+;⊥ +∞†≠∞∞≈ ∋≈ ∋⊇++;≈⊥ ≈∞;†++ ∋≈⊇ +;≈ †+=∞. 0+≈=∞≈†;+≈≈ ∋+∞ ††+∞†∞⊇, +∞† †+∞ ≈≤∞≈∞ ∞≈⊇≈ ≠;†+ †+∞ †∞∞†;≈⊥ †+∋† †+∞ ≤+∞⊥†∞ +∋≈ +∞∋††+ ∞≈⊥∋⊥∞⊇ †+∞;+ ∞∋+†;+≈≈ ∋≈⊇ †+∞;+ ∋;≈⊇≈ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ ⊥†∋+ +∞∋≤+∞≈ ∋ †∞=∞† +† ∞≈∞+⊥+, ≠+;≤+ ;≈ ≈∞≈†∋;≈∞⊇ †++∋ †+∞≈ +≈. 7+∞ ≈+∞+≤∞≈ +† †+∞ ⊥†∋+ ∋+∞ +∞†∞=∋≈† +∞+∞. 7+∞ 3†+ ;≈⊇∞≤†;+≈ ;≈ ⊇∞+;=∞⊇ †++∋ ∋ ≈†+++ ;≈ †+∞ 4+∋+;∋≈ ≈;⊥+†≈, †+∞ ≈∞+⊥†+† +† ≈∞+=∋≈† ∋≈⊇ ∋∋≈†∞+ ⊇;≈⊥∞;≈∞≈ ⊇∞+;=∞≈ †++∋ ∋≈ 9≈⊥†;≈+ =∞+≈;+≈ +† 4+;+≈†+’≈ 1 3∞⊥⊥+≈;†; +∞† †+∞+∞ ≈∞∞∋≈ †+ +∞ ≈+ ≤†∞∋+ ≈+∞+≤∞ †++ †+∞ ∋∋;≈ ⊥†+† +† †+∞ †∋∋;≈⊥ ∞≠≤∞⊥† †++ †+†∂ †∋≠ ∋≈⊇ +∋††∋⊇≈. 3 1† ;≈ †+∞+∞†++∞ †;∂∞†+ †+∋† 3+∋∂∞≈⊥∞∋+∞’≈ ;≈=∞≈†;+≈ ;≈ ∋+≈† ∋≤†;=∞ †++∋ †+;≈ ⊥+;≈† ;≈ †+∞ ⊥†∋+ ∋≈⊇ ;† ;≈ +;≈ ;∋∋⊥;≈∋†;+≈ ≠+;≤+ ;≈ +∞≈⊥+≈≈;+†∞ †++ †+∞ ≤+∋;≤ +∞=∞+≈∋† +† ≤.....

7+∞ ≠∞⊇⊇;≈⊥ ;≈ ∋ †+∋=∞≈†+ +† ∋ ⊇∞∞⊥†+ ≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋† ≤∞+∞∋+≈+.

3;+≈⊇∞††+ ⊥+∞⊥∋+∞≈ †++ 0∞†+∞≤+;+’≈ ∋++;=∋† ≠;†+ ∋ ⊇∞†∋;†∞⊇ ⊇∞≈≤+;⊥†;+≈ +† +;≈ =∋≈+ ∋⊥⊥∞∋+∋≈≤∞ ∋≈⊇ +;≈ ⊇;≈∞∋≈∞ +;⊇⊇∞≈ +++≈∞. 0∞†+∞≤+;+ ∋++;=∞≈ †∋†∞, ∋≈≈∋∞††≈ †+∞ ⊥+;∞≈†, ∂;≈≈∞≈ †+∞ ++;⊇∞ ≠;†+ ∋ “≤†∋∋+++∞≈ ≈∋∋≤∂” ∋≈⊇ ;≈≈;≈†≈ +≈ †∞∋=;≈⊥ +∞†++∞ †+∞ ≠∞⊇⊇;≈⊥ †∞∋≈†, +∞†+∋⊥;≈⊥ +;≈ †∋†+∞+ ;≈ †∋≠, †+∞ ⊥∞∞≈†≈ ∋≈⊇, ∋+≈† +† ∋††, 9∋†∞.

7+∞ ++∋∞≤+∋;≈⊥ ∋† 0∞†+∞≤+;+’≈ ++∞≈∞ ;≈ 4≤† 4 ≈≤∞≈∞ 1 ;≈ ≤+†⊇ ∋≈⊇ ;≈++≈⊥;†∋+†∞ ≠;†+ ≈+ †;+∞, ≈+ †++⊇ ∋≈⊇ ≤∞∋≈∞†∞≈≈ ∋††∋≤∂≈ +≈ +;≈ ≈∞+=∋≈†≈.

7+∞ ≠∞∞⊇;≈⊥ ≈;⊥+† ;†≈∞†† ;≈ ⊇∞∞⊥†+ ∞≈≤+≈=∞≈†;+≈∋† ∋≈ 9∋†∞ ;≈ ∂∞⊥† ∋≠∋∂∞ †;≈†∞≈;≈⊥ †+ ∋ “≈∞+∋+≈ +† ≤+≈†;≈∞≈≤+”. 6+∞∋;+ +∞+∋=∞≈ ∋≈ ∋≈ “∋†† †;≤∞≈≈∞⊇ †++†” †+∞∞ †+ †∋∞≈† †+∞ ≈†∋+=;≈⊥ 9∋†∞ ≠;†+ †++⊇ †+∋† +∞ †+∞≈ ≠;†+⊇+∋≠≈ ∋≈ “†++ ≤++†∞+;≤”. 4 †∋;†++ ∋≈⊇ ∋ +∋+∞+⊇∋≈+∞+ +∋=∞ +∞∞≈ ≤+∋∋;≈≈;+≈∞⊇ †+ ⊥++=;⊇∞ ∋ †∋≈+;+≈∋+†∞ +∞††;† +≈†+ †+ +∞ ;≈≈∞††∞⊇ ;≈ ++⊇∞+ †+ †∞+†+∞+ 9∋†∞’≈ +∞∋;†;∋†;+≈.

6;≈∋††+ ∋† +∞+ ++∞∋∂;≈⊥ ⊥+;≈†, 9∋†∞ ∋⊥+∞∞≈ †+ ≤∋†† †+∞ ≈∞≈ †+∞ ∋++≈ ∋≈⊇ ∋ ∋∋≈ ∋ ≠+∋∋≈.

7+∞ ∞≠≤+∋≈⊥∞ +† ;⊇∞≈†;†;∞≈ ;≈ †+∞ ≈∞+⊥†+† ≈†∋+†≈ †+ ∞≈≠;≈⊇ ;≈ 4≤† 5 ≈≤∞≈∞ 1, ≠+∞≈ †+∞ †+∞∞ 2;≈≤∞≈†;+ ∋++;=∞≈ +∋=;≈⊥ ∞≈≤+∞≈†∞+∞⊇ †+∞ +;=∋++∞ +∞+∋=;++ +† 9∋†∞ ∋≈⊇ 0∞†+∞≤+;+ +≈ †+∞ ++∋⊇. 8∞ †+∞≈ ∋∞∞†≈ †+∞ ∋∞+≤+∋≈† ≠++ ;≈ ;∋⊥∞+≈+≈∋†;≈⊥ +;∋ ∋≈⊇ ≤+++∞≤††+ ;⊇∞≈†;†;∞≈ .....

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