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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
The Image of Woman
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1659  Friday, 22 August 2003

[1]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 00:41:21 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1648 The Image of Woman

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 01:50:19 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1648 The Image of Woman

[3]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 07:27:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1639 The Image of Woman


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 00:41:21 +0100
Subject: 14.1648 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1648 The Image of Woman

A good response about a tricky passage.  But there are some assumptions
made by most contributors that were rather predictable concerning the
socially acceptable position for women to take in marriage.  To embrace
Katherine's speech in any way seriously is held to be offensively
right-wing - whatever that means.  Shakespeare, in writing this speech
with no obvious irony, is seen to be woefully out of touch with modern
times.  But there is in society a very modern undercurrent that
contradicts the strident female equalists.  It is that marriage might be
less confrontational if the wife deferred to the husband on many
things.  A successful book on the topic was Laura Doyle's own account of
the saving of her marriage - "The Surrendered Wife :
A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion, and Peace with Your
Man".  (Put 'The Surrendered Wife' into Google) Reviews were mostly
supportive - some saying the book saved their marriages.  The point is
that to many people living with a rival is no marriage at all and have
looked to new inspirations for a better way.  By rejecting feminist
calls for absolute equality millions of women across the western world
have discovered a new identity that has helped discover aspects to their
marriages they didn't imagine existed.  And all this nowhere near the
Christian right wing.

However, Shakespeare must have been familiar with 1 Peter chapter three
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any
obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the
conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation
coupled with fear." Not particularly mad right wing, but not mad
feminist either.  And clearly Peter recognises women as spiritual
teachers.

In conclusion I have to say that I think the speech was sincere and
straight - all those who sought their own ironic layering for
performances were guilty of corruption.  It may be proved that
Shakespeare was not only nearer the true heart of the real woman but
centuries ahead of his time.

SAM SMALL

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 01:50:19 -0400
Subject: 14.1648 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1648 The Image of Woman

Marcia Eppich-Harris  has it right --

>One thing that
>I think is very important to the interpretation of the Taming of
>the
>Shrew is that all of the characters in this plot are members of a
>play
>within a play that is being put on for Sly and the characters who
>dupe
>him and set up the play. As much as we would like to take
>Katharina's
>speech either ironically or seriously, we have to remember that
>she and
>all the characters around her are players in a play. No, we don't
>come
>back to the Sly plot (depending on your edition of Shrew), but
>there
>must be a reason for that framework that starts the play.

I have said it before, and will probably repeat it as often as this
discussion is resurrected:  T/S is a farce within a framework.  The only
"real" characters are Sly, the low tavern folk and the Lord and his
entourage.  The players are putting on an entertainment.

The big punch line comes in the Sly epilogue in The Taming of A Shrew
after the "women are so simple" scene.  Sly finds himself restored to
his station as a tinker and comments to the tapster (who somehow has
reappeared) that he has just had a wonderful dream in which he learned
how to tame a shrewish wife, and he is going right home to practice the
technique on his own wife.  The audience, who understands the farcical
nature of the entertainment Sly witnessed, will go to their own homes
pleasantly contemplating the likely consequences that will befall Sly.
Thus, the epilogue pulls the fangs of Katherine's speech -- it is both
sincere (in the context of the play within the play) and ironic in the
context of "real" life characterized by Sly.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 07:27:06 -0400
Subject: 14.1639 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1639 The Image of Woman

->sigh<-

Check the archives, Sam, as at least one person has already suggested.
It means the Shrew has tamed as much as she has been "tamed," IMHO, as I
have said at length before: she knows that she will "wound [her] lord,
[her] king, [her] governor" if she treats him with contempt in front of
"the guys" (the way everyone expects her to, and the way the sweet and
lovely Bianca treats *her* husband, sincerely, and to his ridicule). Her
speech is not ironic, but neither is it face-value sincere: Katarina
would have to be a broken thing, not a tamed one, to have become what
she pretends to be for the sake of Petruchio's "rep"---but he has made
her love him, and to that extent made her "change her evil ways" where
"doing him ease" (not mocking him publicly) is concerned.

Please see the digests, where my case (and the opposition's) is argued
at length.

Best,
Carol Barton

>I just happened across this passage from act 5 of The Taming of the
>Shrew - a play I'm not familiar with in detail.
>
>         Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
>         And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
>         To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:

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