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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
Re: *Shr.* Irony
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 900. Wednesday, 15
November 1995.

(1)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Nov 95 12:04:47 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

(2)     From:   Sara Jayne Steen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Nov 1995 22:22:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

(3)     From:   Keith Ghormley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 1995 01:17:36 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

(4)     From:   Andy Grewar <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 1995 12:21:00 GMT+120
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0898  *Shr.* Irony


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Nov 95 12:04:47 EST
Subject: 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

Re. Katherine's final speech, Bernie Folan asks if she is "a changed
woman or . . a newly aware woman giving tips to new wives . . . ."
Perhaps the speech is given by an actor: the Induction certainly draws
attention to boys performing women's roles, while the play itself
repeatedly shows people disguising themselves and pretending to
identities other than those they began with.

Fran Teague

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sara Jayne Steen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Nov 1995 22:22:46 -0500
Subject: 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

To Bernie Folan:

Sharon Beehler and I reviewed a Montana Shakespeare in the Parks
production that you might find interesting (*Shakespeare Quarterly* 41,
1990).  The production emphasized the hypocrisy of Padua and established
Kate and Petruchio as a team who could work together to foil the
hypocrites.  I'll quote the section on that speech:

Kate delivered her final speech to the widow with such a straight face
that she made members of the audience who were familiar with the play
just a little uneasy about whether she had been co-opted.  She paused
only once, turning to Petruchio on the line about a wife owing obedience
to her husband's "honest will" and stressing the word "honest," as
though reminding (warning?) Petruchio not to push her too hard.  The
emphasis made us more uneasy -- if Kate meant these words, did she mean
others?

By choosing to end the play with a grinning Kate and Petruchio sharing
the money they have won, however, the Montana production deliberately
undercut any suggestion that Kate has become the dispirited, broken tool
of Petruchio.  She is his partner, clever and perceptive. Together they
have forged a means of existence in a tough world where brains can win
out.

Another alternative for you.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Keith Ghormley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 1995 01:17:36 -0600
Subject: 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

I was in a well-received community playhouse production of Shrew last
spring, and our director chose to make it a fully ironic speech.  Kate
says all these things playfully, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, a twinkle in
her eye. The reading even went so far that when Kate comes to "serve,
love, and obey", she says, "Serve, love, and ... [knowing grin to
Petruchio] ... obey?" [Petruchio shakes his head - nawww...].  For me it
was the worst moment of the show.  Especially since we had Petruchio
doubled as the drunken Sly, thrown out of Kate's Bar and pass out in a
shortened prologue, and then revive and stagger off in a mute epilogue:
If we frame the whole play as a drunkard's dream ("sure, don't you
*wish* -- dream on, wino"), then the loading her final speech with irony
is at a cross purpose with the rest of the presentation.  The
Kate-Petruchio stuff, whether a play within the play, or a drunkard's
dream, is fantastic, and questions about the inner consistency of Kate's
character (which is why we wonder if some irony isn't necessary), lose
their point.

Keith Ghormley
Lincoln Nebraska

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy Grewar <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 1995 12:21:00 GMT+120
Subject: 6.0898  *Shr.* Irony
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0898  *Shr.* Irony

Bernie Folan asks about irony in *The Shrew*.  One starting point might
be the irony of the broader situation given by the Induction, namely
that the Lord arranges for Christopher Sly to see a play in which he is
shown how to "tame a shrew".  I believe that this and the typically
comedic qualities of the main play are meant to distance us from its
characters: they are comic types first and foremost, and the play is
part of an elaborate joke based on stereotypical views of male-female
relations.  Interpretations such as the Burton-Taylor film, in which,
for example, Kate's humiliation on the road is *shown* instead of merely
being reported, fail precisely because they attempt to make "real"
people out of these comic types.  So I would agree that there is a good
deal of irony in Kate's conversion, and the play as a whole is a
sustained contemplation of the relationship between illusion and
reality.

Does any of this make sense to you, Bernie?  Best wishes with your
writing!
Regards, Andy Grewar
 

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