Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
*Shr.* Irony
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0916.  Sunday, 26
November 1995.

(1)     From:   David Skeele <DBS@SRU>
        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Nov 95 14:54:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

(2)     From:   Bernie Folan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 23 Nov 95 14:21:57 gmt
        Subj:   Shrew


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <DBS@SRU>
Date:           Tuesday, 14 Nov 95 14:54:57 EST
Subject: 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0898  Qs: *Shr.* Irony

In response to the question regarding Katharine's last speech, I'll
relate one of the most interesting solutions I've seen to making the
speech work.  It was at Tulane in 1987, in a production directed by Buzz
Podewell.  The concept for the production was that it was being
performed in a frat house by a bunch of frat boys and sorority sisters,
giving the play a lot of rough, misogynistic energy.  Podewell proceeded
from Charles Marowitz' notion that Petruchio's treatment of Kate (i.e.,
denying her food or sleep) amounted to a kind of brainwashing- -it is
the same thing that "Moonies" and other cults do to new recruits as
part  of the indoctrination process.  The idea in the final scene was
that she had indeed been fully brainwashed by this point.  At a point
about 1/3 of the way through the monologue, she seemed to finish her
praise of her husband, accompanied by the cheers of the male onlookers
and much congratulatory backslapping for Petruchio.  At this point,
however, she downed a glass of brandy, and launched back into her
speech.  As the speech grew more adulatory and submissive, she grew more
frantic in her delivery, until the onlookers began to grow uneasy.
When, at the end, she maniacally tries to shove her hand underneath
Petruchio's foot, even Petruchio became horrified at what he had
wrought.  Finally, Kate collapsed into a shaking and sobbing mess, and
Petruchio gathered her in a blanket and carried her offstage as the
others looked on in shock.  The closing lines about the future
festivities were cut.  I know that this production did borrow from
Michael Bogdanov's famous staging in places, so perhaps this ending
isn't completely original, but it made for a harrowing conclusion to a
generally wonderful production.  Note: for a completely different take
on the scene, look at Jonathan Miller's BBC production (with John Cleese
as Petruchio).

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernie Folan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 23 Nov 95 14:21:57 gmt
Subject:        Shrew

Bill Godshalk wrote:

>>I would like to add one detail to Professor Mayes'
>>analysis of 4.5. Katherine tells Petruchio: " . . . sun it
>>is not, when you say it is not; / And the moon changes
>>even as your mind" (Riverside ed. 4.5.19-20). I assume
>>that she's implying that Petruchio is a "lunatic,"  since
>>the mind of a lunatic is influenced by the moon.  This
>>comment can hardly be read as wifely submission. Or can
>>it?

Isn't this Kate saying 'I know what your game is and now I know the
rules, I can play it'.  This is the first time she acknowledges that
Petruchio is playing a game.  For his game to work or his plan to
succeed Kate has to be aware of the rules and agree to them.  Here she
is saying she does and so she is agreeing to this marriage and deciding
to take her part in the game (even though Petruchio sets the rules).

I asked earlier about how we read Kate's last speech, with irony or
without.  A large variety of viewpoints seem to have emerged,
predominantly in favour of an ironical reading.  In production it seems
there have been scenes with Kate laughing and looking sideways at
Petruchio as well as straight readings with Kate in earnest.  There
seems to be some doubt about how a 20th century audience can appreciate
this ending and discussion about how politically correct the acceptance
of a submissive wife is to us now.

I am very interested in this 20th century reading of The Taming of the
Shrew. I feel that it's quite obviously unacceptable for us today to
agree with the sentiments in Katherine's last speech (whether ironical
or not) and also quite unacceptable to accept the method Petruchio uses
to "tame" Katherine. However, I wonder whether this depiction of married
life is Shakespeare having a stab (either consciously or unconsciously)
at showing the only way a married couple at this time could succeed as a
married couple. What I mean is that this may be seen as a mirror of the
times and of the subservience of women and the patriarchal society
firmly in place. Perhaps the message is that at this time in history the
only way a marriage could endure was if the wife was dominated by the
husband and did not question his rule. Lastly, can I suggest that
Shakespeare may have been making a comment on this state of affairs by
highlighting them. At the very least he has recorded this situation for
us in history.

          Bernie Folan
          <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.