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Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592. The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological and physical torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca, who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.

The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate; McLintock!, a 1963 American Western comedy film, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The 1999 high-school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You, and the 2003 romantic comedy Deliver Us from Eva are also loosely based on the play.

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Sean Barrs
I really don’t buy the irony. Here is a play by a very young Shakespeare trying to appeal to the masses; here is a play that purposely appeals to the misogynistic beliefs of its early audiences, and I really don’t like it.
This is what should have happened at the end:

I’m a Shrew; I’m a woman who stands up For herself and for her sisters alike I have a voice; I will not be tamed by Men who think themselves overlords!
Instead we have a rather meek speech in which a broken woman who has been deprived of sleep and food agrees to live under her husband’s thumb. Some may call this the comedy element, but I just can’t see it in that light. I didn’t find anything funny about the situation. Thankfully, Shakespeare learnt to do much better.

Emily May
It makes some people feel better to believe that the rampant misogyny in this play is supposed to be ironic. Well, whatever. I still don't much enjoy watching a woman having her spirit broken down until she's nothing but a shell of what she once was.

Michael Finocchiaro
Not the bard’s greatest work, Taming of the Shrew tends more towards gender stereotypes (plus a few anti-Semitic asides) and, to my view, lacked memorable monologues. The humor was occasionally ok but no belly laughs provoked for me. The play within a play idea was interesting, but William sort of left the ending hanging. I suppose I should seek some archival footage of stage or screen interpretations of this one. On to Henry VI Parts 1-3!

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