I believe that Shakespeare had a very little understanding of women. In this play The Taming of the Shrew the women seem very flat. There is Kate; she is the proverbial “witchy” woman. The butt of jokes men think of while sitting around a campfire discussing their troubles with women, or the woman everyman wants to go out with and “conquer” to prove how really “macho” he is. Then there is Bianca; she portrays everymans fantasy of the prefect woman. Her youth, beauty, and charm desired in his world.
And finally, the woman Hortensio marries the Widow. The widow is the “sugar mama” of the group. The lazy male fantasy of having a woman to love and take care of you at the same time. My first example of the static characters of women as portrayed by Shakespeare is Kate. I believe it is a male fantasy of sorts to be the one who could tame the untamable. I also believe Shakespeare probably shared this fantasy (unless my other theories of his sexuality turn out to be true).
This is accomplished through Uber-male Petruchio. A quote that shows this is on page 83, line136 “So I to her, and so she yields to me, for I am rough and woo not like a babe”. This shows how Petruchio is convinced he’s god’s gift to women. And also portrays the male fantasy of domination. My next example would be Bianca. She is quiet, beautiful, and weak. Everything diserable to the men around. Later we find out its somewhat an act but we won’t mention this for my papers sake.
She appears weak in beginning when she has had her hands tide by Kate and is being beaten by her, ActII page 78, line1 “good sister wrong me not nor yourself to make a bondmaid and a slave of me”. This is Bianca showing off how weak she is, being able to be dominated by her husband. Lastly, there is the widow whom Hortensio marries. She seems to be his caretaker, and not other way around. This is somewhat of another male fantasy, to be taken care of. And yet this also embarrasses Hortensio. He appears weak for following a woman, and not leading as Petruchio, uber-male has.
This shows how Shakespeare views women as followers, and if you are lead by one, then you are not a man. Page 148, line92, this is right after Hortensio sends for his wife and she tells him to goto her and Petruchio is making fun of Hortensio “Worse and worse, she will not come, O vile, intolerable, not to be endured! “. These are the reasons why I felt that during the reading of The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare had very little understanding of the female sex. I believe the woman in this book were a compilation of classic male fantasies shared by all.
He should have granted more freedom to act differently to the female characters. I thought it might have been interesting if he would have gone somewhat into widows past. Or if he had shown private flashes of rage by Bianca, that went against her preset character. I would have also enjoyed somewhat of a prologue of sorts. An explanation of the roots of Kates bitterness towards her sister, the suitors, and life itself. So that’s my paper.. You can stop reading now, theres nothing leftgo on go on to another page okay look away.