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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Shrew
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0201  Monday, 9 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 06 Mar 1998 08:14:59 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0196  Re: Shrew

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 09 Mar 1998 01:11:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re:  T/S


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 06 Mar 1998 08:14:59 -0800
Subject: 9.0196  Re: Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0196  Re: Shrew

If Stevie Simkin, in writing that "When we start reading 20th century
psychology in Shakespeare instead of a reflection of common practices in
early modern England ... the attempt to turn a blind eye to the play's
misogyny looks more like self-mutilation with a sharp instrument," he
means that all attempts to psychologize automatically turn Kate into a
masochist, I'm afraid that I have to disagree.  Turning her into a
victim of Petruchio's depraved psychology still leaves her a victim, and
the fact that he can act out bizarre urges and fantasies that go well
beyond "common practices in early modern England" (other male characters
condemn him, after all) becomes a potent comment on patriarchal
marriage.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 09 Mar 1998 01:11:42 -0500
Subject:        Re:  T/S

I have been following the discussion about whether Kate's conversion at
the end of The Shrew is genuine or feigned.  I would like to offer a
third possibility:  It is neither genuine nor feigned, because it is
merely of a piece with the rest of the fantasy which has been played out
for Sly's benefit.  It is, therefore, genuine within the context of the
farce, but unreal in the outer world.

This point comes through more clearly in "A Shrew," which continues Sly
as an occasional commentator on the play he is seeing (in brief segments
which are perhaps included to remind the audience of the context) and
has him appear, restored to his condition of a tinker, in an epilogue
(after Kate's problematical speech).  He then observes to the tapster,
who has also mysteriously reappeared, that he had a fine dream which
taught him how to tame a shrewish wife, and he will go home and practice
his newly learned skills on his own wife.  The joke is that we know he
is doomed to failure and will, in consequence, suffer even more. We know
this because we evaluate the play he saw as a complete fantasy, our
evaluation being aided by the presence of Sly as a buffer between us and
the play within a play.  If performed this way, Kate's reformation is a
fairy tale, not real to us, but understandable as genuine in the
fantastic context in which it appears.
 

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