Gender Struggles

During Shakespeare’s time it was not uncommon for there to be gender inequalities. In Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” the inequalities among genders were prevalent, however always in competition. This constant power struggle stood out to me as funny, confusing and intriguing. The witty and outspoken Katherine did not make the male character’s lives easier at first. Katherine was seen as too outspoken, wild. (“Her elder sister is so curst and shrewd…” Shakespeare, line 174)
At first, reading “Taming of the Shrew” I had thought how unfair the women were treated, portrayed and controlled. However, after reading further in my opinion, Katherine was the strong character in control (but only for a little amount of time.) This made me confused as to what type of message Shakespeare was trying to give about the gender biases and inequalities of this time. During this time period men were often in control, and seen as the “omnipotent” beings. The fact that Shakespeare showed a sense of irony and contrast to the typical ideal woman of this time enabled him to create piece that was very multi-faceted and even relatable today.
Katherine’s words showed she was aware of her actions and wasn’t in the least bit frightened to show it. She exclaims “If I be waspish, best beware my sting.” (Shakespeare, line 208) I was almost confused as to why Shakespeare would even take a chance at displaying a female in such a way, because to me she gave off a powerful and strong attitude.
It was also quite comical that Lucentio was willing to disguise himself so much just to gain Katherine as a wife. The fact that he was willing to go to such great lengths to trick Katherine into marrying them posed many questions to me. 1.) If the men were in such power, why did they need to go to such great lengths to obtain this power? 2.) If the men were willing to change so much about themselves to get a wife, does that really display power? “Thou shalt be master, Trainio, in my stead; Keep house, and port, and servants, as I should. I will some other be, some Florentine, Some Neapolitan, or meaner man of Pisa.”(Shakespeare, lines 196-199) Throughout this play Shakespeare intertwines much complexity of gender power struggles, which seems perplexing, in a sense that I would not think people of this time would realize problems such as these because it was the “norm”.
Lastly, after reading through a couple of act of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” I realized that his works are relatable to today. I never would have thought that the problems/questioning thoughts in Shakespeare’s works would spark a realization of just how applicable his works are to today’s world. Considering how long ago Shakespeare’s works were written, it seems to me pretty amazing how they can still be used to question societal woes and complexities.


2 thoughts on “Gender Struggles

  1. prosepoemsandjargon


    I agree with a good portion of your entry, yet was Katherine ever truly in control? She is only free to an extent, as her father still controls her future and who she marries. Could Shakespeare have used Katherine solely as a prop to further the plot, mainly to set up the Bianca/potential suitors factor? Again, you bring up a lot of good points, and all our viable. I don’t think anyone can be sure of Shakespeare’s opinion on gender within the piece, and that makes it so interesting.

  2. Amanda Wolfer

    Your post caught my attention from the title “Gender Struggles.” Issues like these always seem to appear in Shakespeare’s works and are a main reason I find myself turned off to his plays. One aspect of this play I enjoy is that it is centered on a woman, Katherine. She is a very strong, bold and outgoing person who breaks gender norms of her time. Being that I saw the movie made out of this film, I know what to expect in future acts but having a strong woman lead character always grabs my attention.


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