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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
The Image of Woman
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1674  Tuesday, 26 August 2003

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Aug 2003 06:02:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

[2]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Aug 2003 09:07:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

[3]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Aug 2003 12:23:05 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

[4]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 07:30:45 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

[5]     From:   Rolland Banker <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 03:04:49 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Aug 2003 06:02:03 -0500
Subject: 14.1667 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

>Amazing! Shakespeare
>anticipated the anti-feminist movement!

Shakespeare, in many instances ( Shrew, Comedy, inter alia.), dramatized
the virtue of the formulation for domestic tranquility delineated by St.
Paul (inter alia)  (Ephesians V, inter alia.) The utter hubris displayed
feminists in declaring that formulation errant would be (and has been)
the proper object of continued derision on stage.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Aug 2003 09:07:59 -0400
Subject: 14.1667 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

Bravo to Bruce Young, whose excellent analysis is also borne out by
Milton's views of marriage in _The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_.
(Though he is frequently characterized as a misogynist, too, Milton is
one of the most forward-thinking men on the planet, when it comes to the
relationship between men and women, as demonstrated by the fact that Eve
is the motive force for "our First Parents'" repentance, and Dalila is
interchangeable [in terms of politics and treachery] with his Samson,
though of course the Nazarite happens to be fighting on the side that
gets to write the history.)

I would even venture to say that by contrasting "bitchy" Kate's loving
behavior with Bianca's shrewish "up yours" in the final scene,
Shakespeare is suggesting that a woman with a mind of her own makes a
better mate than one who knows how to be passive-aggressive, and only
*appears* to give her lover the reins in all things (until he says "I
do")---a la Kate's younger sister. Kate has a mind, and she speaks it;
when she gives herself, she does it by choice (not custom or force), and
as I have suggested before, her "conversion" for the rest of the guests'
benefit is ironic----the point being that a man who *doesn't* treat his
wife like chattel, and attempt to break her spirit as well as her heart
is likely to get voluntarily what the men who *do* dominate their wives
can't *beat* out of the creatures they think they "tame": respect, and
if not "obedience" as child to parent, then trust and supportiveness and
a (free) willingness to compromise where compromise is called for.
Kate's gesture makes fools of the assembly (and the readers who, like
Mr. Small, see it as an act of submission) for two reasons: it makes
Petruchio seem some kind of connubial wizard, a REAL MAN, more "manly"
than the others present, to have accomplished what everyone else thinks
is impossible (taming his shrew), and it hoists them on their own
respective petards, because they think he did it by abusing her (only he
and Kate are wise enough to understand the critical key, the mutuality
of which Bruce speaks).

The very fact that, as Bruce suggests, Shakespeare is *never* that
univocal about *any*of the central issues of his plays should be red
flag enough . . .

but perhaps it takes a male who is secure enough in his masculinity to
see that "who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe"---and
to realize that someone like Kate (male or female) would never submit to
outright domination--she'd die defying her tormentor, first.

Anachronistic viewpoint? Then perhaps Mr. Small, et al. should read _The
Wyf of Bath's Prologue_ and _Tale_----for the first time, even if the
hundredth reading. That fourteenth-century "misogynist" seems to espouse
a similar view.

Carol Barton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Aug 2003 12:23:05 -0400
Subject: 14.1667 The Image of Woman
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

Thank you Bruce Young :)

Your insights and supporting citations expand and clarify for me what I
have long believed is the textual content of that speech in Shrew.
Complexity is so often a hallmark of things Shakespearean; your post
helps to point to the levels in Kate's words and Petruchio's response as
well.

Since you have written that sixpager, perhaps you could send it to Hardy
for inclusion with the various papers on the SHAKSPER archives site?
I'd find it a fascinating read and a worthwhile set of references to
answer others who make the simplistic argument about Kate's speech.

Mari Bonomi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 07:30:45 +1000
Subject: 14.1667 The Image of Woman
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

I have often wondered whether, in Shrew, there is actually rather a
sense of bitter irony at the end--a pointing out that the kind of cowed
creature Katherine's speech suggests is the final product of a vicious
approach to such taming. Is she really tamed, or is she playing a game,
anyway? Her speech seems very much at odds with what has gone before,
Petruchio's attitude to her, and more; the 'taming' is more in the
nature of taming someone whose manic and crazy behaviour frightens
everyone in her family, and puts her in an impossible position, rather
than a truly misogynistic ordeal of torture.

On the other hand, I don't think Shakespeare liked any of the characters
in this play--the termagant that Katherine is, who treats her
family(including her sister)like dirt; is well-matched to the
gold-digging unpleasant character that is Petrurchio. They are
well-matched, in my opinion. And one doesn't have to extrapolate from
that to all women, as Katherine appears to do--that is all still part of
the general climate of unpleasantness that hangs over the play.

We went to see the latest production of the Shrew at the RSC in May; and
my 16 year old son, seeing the play for the first time, was very
disagreeably affected by it. We had many interesting, spirited and
illuminating discussions about it afterwards. It's a bitter, bitter
play, and very disturbing but not, I think, misogynistic. Nor is it,
emphatically, a portrait of what 'real' women, whatever that is, want.
Shakespeare's people are never less than individual. And those two
individuals are nasty pieces of work.

Sophie Masson

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rolland Banker <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 03:04:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: The Image of Woman
Comment:        SHK 14.1667 The Image of Woman

Women please! Hmph! I mean the play "Woman Pleased" (ca. 1620 but maybe
existing in an earlier version) was perhaps being referenced to by the
Lord who greets one of the players with compliments about his prior
performance as "Soto" in the Induction of the "Shrew".

This would have roused expectations in the audience that they were about
to see a play similar, a version of Shakespeare's beloved "The Wife of
Bath's Tale" in which women tame men(oh that life were so simple). But
as Meredith Anne Skura says in her daring book, "Shakespeare the Actor
and the Purposes of Playing" which I am closely paraphrasing here and I
highly recommend to SHAKSPERians, the Lord then provides a play on
exactly the opposite theme.  Her speculations and insight into the play
are marvelous (see pages 95-106) and could be helpful for performance
perhaps.

And hopefully this diversionary tactic will allow Sam time to collect
his wits.

Sam?...Sam?...hello?...anyone?...yes, well ladies it looks like its just
you...and me....hahaha....

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