I just finished watching Taming of the Shrew- a marvelous production, if I do say so myself. Although, I must say the message was slightly mixed. I couldn't decide whether it was telling women to be shrewish to get men, so they have to tame you, or to be tame from the beginning, so men will love you. I don't get Shakespeare sometimes...
I'm not going to lie: I was torn on my feelings for Kate in the show. I mean, she was a perfectly awful person who just went around being mean to people and such, but if you think about it, her life couldn't have been a picnic exactly. How did she become a shrew? I hardly think she was born as one. She had to live with a beautiful sister whom her father clearly adored, and who suitors lined up around the block for. I'm sure she got the "lesser sister/daughter" treatment from birth, which might have been why she was so peevish all the time.
When Petruccio started to break her, I started feeling bad for her. Even though she had been a jerk in acts and scenes past, I didn't feel she deserved to be "broken" and was saddened to see it happen. Kate's speech at the end about women's obedience to men was especially unnerving for me, and I'm still trying to figure out why. Maybe it was Petruccio's braggadocio about his wife's obedience that really made me angry-- Kate's wasn't the only one with faults that needed to be made better. No, I'm not a feminist.
Then again, I couldn't help thinking that it was a game for Kate. When she finally decides to start obeying his commands no matter what he says, (because it's either follow them or go back) it seems there is a bit of a twinkle in her eye. I think it finally dawns on her that she is stuck with this man at least for the next little while, although probably the rest of her life, and she better make the best of it. The best way she knows how to do so is to play the game he proposes. I also can't help thinking that the bet at the end between the three men is set up by Kate and Petruccio before they get there. It would make more sense to me and would soothe my feelings that Kate was now just a mindless, obedient slave.
Was Kate's character at the end the kind of woman Shakespeare really wanted? Is she the kind of woman men want?