Review: The Taming of the Shrew

Posted 6 March, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Taming of the Shrew
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: Ebook; my copy

Renowned as Shakespeare’s most boisterous comedy, The Taming of the Shrew is the tale of two young men, the hopeful Lucentio and the worldly Petruchio, and the two sisters they meet in Padua.

Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, the apparently ideal younger daughter of the wealthy Baptista Minola. But before they can marry, Bianca’s formidable elder sister, Katherine, must be wed. Petruchio, interested only in the huge dowry, arranges to marry Katherine -against her will- and enters into a battle of the sexes that has endured as one of Shakespeare’s most enjoyable works.

Continuing along with the Shakespeare challenge! I decided on this play as my next read because I remember reading how 10 Things I Hate About You was loosely based off this play (and I enjoyed that movie enough years ago) 😉

This book is part of the William Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think I’ve found my least favourite Shakespeare play. In a way I’m glad I didn’t type anything about this play immediately after I had finished reading it because, to be honest, my reaction was as follows (major apologies for the profanity if that is not your thing and/or this happens to be your favourite play):

As always, not my gif

I mean, okay, I wasn’t completely clueless going into this play; I did read somewhere that the treatment of women in this story was pretty =/ But this was something else! D= The way that Petruchio goes about “taming” Katherina’s ill-temper was psychologically messed up (literally and figuratively). Everything about their story rubbed me the wrong way, I didn’t get a sense of either character becoming fonder of the other save for Katherina’s “out of duty” change of heart. Maybe I missed it but I also couldn’t quite understand why her temper was so bad and couldn’t quite get a sense of any other qualities about her to make up for her temper (the scene when she strikes Bianca diminished much sympathy on my part; Bianca I think was the only character in the whole play whom I liked, and only because she did nothing to irk my ire). I couldn’t help but also draw some parallels with Much Ado About Nothing‘s Beatrice (review) who was also strong in her own right but at least we saw other aspects of her personality and her character that gave her a more balanced and nuanced portrayal. Katherina here felt rather one-dimensional.

As for the other characters and the secondary storyline…yeah, I think I was already so turned off by the main storyline to even care about the secondary story. None of the characters appealed to me and there was nothing about this story that I found even remotely funny. I read somewhere that this entire play is a farce and should not be taken at all at face value but I just don’t see where and how this play is nothing more than a farce (other than the fact that it’s performed to a drunken Sly).

So I ask, what am I missing about this play? What about it did you enjoy? Is it something that perhaps is better understood if watched as a performance? Is it an interpretive thing? I admit, I think I was also preoccupied at the time that I read this play and missed a whole lot of detail here.

For now I think I’ll stick to 10 Things I Hate About You 😉

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

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2 Responses to “Review: The Taming of the Shrew”

  1. I had a hard time with this one, too. I know some people interpret it as having Petruchio and Katherina really being in love for awhile, but I don’t understand how you can love a husband who is so clearly abusive (and doesn’t he say outright that he just wants her money?). Mutual attraction doesn’t solve the issues I have with this play, anyway. And I’m confused because I generally find Shakespeare very generous with his women–they’re so often strong, virtuous, and clever, and the ones who save the day. So where did this come from?

    • Whew, glad to know I’m not the only one who has issues with this play! Agreed, Shakespeare’s other comedies has such fantastic and pro-active female characters, not sure what was going on with this one (did he lose a bet or something?)…

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