“Taming of the Shrew” Themes Worth Discussing and Thinking Over

If you ask any student what works of Shakespeare they know, you will most certainly hear something like "Romeo and Juliet". Of course, this is one of his most popular plays; however, there are still many works that are worth talking about. Moreover, it’s not only Shakespeare’s romantic plays that raise exciting and important themes. In this article, we are going to discuss "The Taming of the Shrew" and the impact this work had on some concepts, stereotypes, and ideas. This article will be useful for many students, and especially for those of them who study literature. Shakespeare “Taming of the Shrew” themes mostly include gender roles in society, marriage phenomenon e, binary concept, madness, etc. Thus, the study of such themes through the prism of Shakespeare’s masterpiece can help you not only prepare for your literature course but also use the knowledge gained as a basis for various written assignments, such as essays, theses, book reviews, etc.

Good themes in “Taming of the Shrew” raised and expressed by Shakespeare

As a rule, most of the artworks convey an extensive range of different ideas that can be found only after a thorough and careful analysis of a particular literature piece. And "The Taming of the Shrew" is no exception either. Some students will perceive it as an ordinary romantic comedy, while others will find in it a considerable amount of thought-provoking details and aspects.

Only three characters in “The Taming of the Shrew” are bright and well-developed characters: Katherina, Petruchio, and Bianca. Petruchio is a typical modern man — he is brave, free from prejudice, and full of inner strength. He yearns for struggle, success, wealth, and meets a worthy opponent — Katherina who, at the end of the play, becomes an ideal wife. Bianca’s duplicity is contrasted with Katarina’s sincerity. In the final part, when the so-called “wives test” takes place, it turns out that Bianca, who was meek by nature, turns into a grumpy and capricious person, while Katarina becomes an embodiment of meekness and affability. The play ends with her famous monologue, in which she affirms the natural weakness of women and encourages them to obey their husbands.

Now that we have reminded you of the key elements of the play, you can see how many good themes for discussion this work may provide you with. As mentioned before, we will focus on several main problems raised in "The Taming of the Shrew", namely:

  • Gender Roles
  • Marriage
  • Binary
  • Madness

Anticipating your question why we chose these four problems, we’d like to assure you that they are still being discussed in modern society. In addition, these issues can become an excellent foundation for your academic writing.

“Taming of the Shrew” themes: Madness

Among different “Taming of the Shrew themes” madness plays quite an important role. The "Taming of the Shrew" introduction prepares the readers for a proper understanding of the conflict. The plot, which is as old as the hills, revolves around the story of Christopher Sly who: wakes up one day and realizes that he does not recognize his surroundings. As the story unfolds, it involves more and more participants and entails more and more consequences. In the same way, in the modern world, a person can often be accused of being insane if they disagree with the public opinion. Very often, when people go against public opinion, they become a real laughing stock, which can not only offend a person but also make them lose their mind. Though Christopher’s story is not the main one in "The Taming of the Shrew" play, it still raises problems that can only be noticed only by an observant reader.

Gender roles in “Taming of the Shrew”

One of the central issues in this play is gender roles. In “Taming of the Shrew”, we can clearly see the difference in attitude toward men and women. Shakespeare, despite all his genius, was still the son of his age, who could not even imagine granting full legal emancipation to women. In fact, the bourgeoisie of that time had no idea of what equality of genders really is. The visibility of equality existed in some circles of the nobility, but in that times it bore an Epicurean character and served to raise the price of egoistic pleasure until the establishment of the complete freedom of adultery. The prototype of morality for Shakespeare in this play — as, indeed, in all others — could be based on the popular morality of a peasant family that recognizes the internal (moral and practical) equality of husband and wife, but gives primacy to the husband.

Marriage in “Taming of the Shrew” play

There is another important issue that is closely related to the theme of gender equality and the role of women in society. The idea of marriage in "Taming of the Shrew" is one of the fundamental concepts of Shakespeare’s work. First of all, do not neglect the fact that, according to the plot, the status of the groom, as well as the size of inheritance, influenced the future marriage a lot. Nowadays, unfortunately, such a thing as "a marriage of convenience" is quite popular with many young people. That is what makes the events described in "The Taming of the Shrew" relevant for modern society. The conflict in "The Taming of the Shrew" results from the clash of two contrasting views on the role of women in love and marriage. The path of Lucentio and Bianca to matrimonial bliss is more exciting and romantic, but as a result, Bianca turns out to be a "stalking horse" for her husband: Lucentio failed to identify her true nature. The fact that Katherina and Petruchio are happier will be more appreciated by the supporters of the conservative approach to marriage.

Binary themes in “Taming of the Shrew”

Binary will be the last theme that we will consider in this article. Unlike the description of characters or development of feminism issues, it is not such a good aspect for analysis. Binary themes in "Taming of the Shrew" are revealed due to the comparison of two sisters — Katherina and Bianca. The contrast between the two girls is clearly visible and provokes a few thoughts. For example, it confirms again the stereotype of how much marriage can change a person. Modesty can turn into pampering (as in the case of Bianca), and youthful carelessness can become absolute calm. These concepts once again prove how false the first impression can be, and that it is necessary to know a person better if you want to have a happy marriage. It also highlights the importance of seeking a compromise. However, all of these aspects can also be discussed, depending on your own theories, ideas and beliefs.