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Taming Of The Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew: The Challenge of Loving Kate

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 very confident man 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 desires in a mate precisely 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 faÐ*ades 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



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