(I read this book as part of the Back to the Classics Challenge. Click on the link or image to join in the fun!)
Every eligible bachelor in Padua is head over heels for Bianca, a kind and beautiful young woman. She is the youngest sibling, and her father has decided that Bianca cannot marry until after her her older sister, Katherine, has walked down the aisle.
The trouble is, Katherine is a shrew—a vulgar, rude, harpy of a woman—and no man in his right mind has tried for her hand. Fortunately Petruchio, a wealthy man of Verona, isn’t totally in his right mind. Can he tame Katherine the shrew and pave the way for Bianca to marry?
This play makes me sick
I get it: mean people are unpleasant, and it can be rewarding to see them get a taste of their own medicine. But as a feminist this play irritates the shit out of me.
Ah Petruchio, the moron who thinks that out-douchebagging Katherine will show her the error of her shrewish ways. He plots with Katherine’s father to marry her off without her consent, and then “tames” her with abuses like starvation and sleep deprivation. He shows no symptoms of love, instead viewing Katherine as some sort of fun challenge, someone to be dominated and put in her proper place.
By the end of the play Katherine has become the perfect wife, explaining to her sister and another newly-married woman why wives should be subservient to their husbands. It’s Stockholm Syndrome, or at least Katherine’s fear of retribution if she doesn’t behave, and it’s repulsive.
Sure there’s some of Shakespeare’s witty banter at the beginning of the play, but Much Ado About Nothing does it better, with better characters and much less creepiness.
For all his wit and creativity, Shakespeare sure leaned on a shitty trope for The Taming of the Shrew. I recommend heaving this one out the nearest window.
It’s Shakespeare, so it’s a classic by default — even though it doesn’t deserve the status.