Wit, Puns, Repartees. Round 1. Play on words / Insult. Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing Pun on ‘heard’ & ‘hard’ to insult him (hard of hearing). Play on words / Insult.
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Wit, Puns, Repartees Round 1
Play on words / Insult • Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing • Pun on ‘heard’ & ‘hard’ to insult him (hard of hearing)
Play on words / Insult • ‘moved’, ‘movable’, ‘joined stool’ = K plays on P’s ‘moved’ to make it literal, thus implying P to be like a piece of furniture, so she can call him names ‘joined stool’ (insignificant)
Sexual Jokes • P turns the insult into something literal & makes it into a bawdy joke (possibly involving some physical tussle) • P adds two meaning to K’s ‘bear’ – 1. to bear children; 2. to bear the weight of a lover (sexual sense) – reinforced by the sexual connotation of ‘I will not burden thee’ • K insults his sexual prowess, calling him a ‘jade’ (one who has no sexual stamina)
Pun, Imagery / Insult • P plays on ‘light’, calling K light in weight & also frivolous. • K uses the imagery of coinage to indulge the light/heavy antithesis: she is no counterfeit coin, but is hundred percent honest (genuine). • P makes a feeble pun on ‘should be’, and take it to mean ‘bee’
Round 1 Winner: Kate Petruchio could only offer a feeble pun.
Wit, Puns, Repartees Round 2
Play on words / Insult • K carries on with the play on ‘be/bee/buzz’ and calls P a ‘buzzard’ (useless for falconry; therefore, he is a useless person) • P plays on ‘buzzard’ and calls Kate his prey ‘turtle’ = turtle dove; also a symbol of love (so he claims Kate to be his love) • K compares the buzzard that catches a dove to a dove that catches the wasp: implying that she is not going to be a faithful wife, so P is making a mistake wooing her.
Play on words / Insult • P plays on the word ‘wasp’, to describe K’s shrewish nature. • K plays on wasp to warn of her ‘sting’ but falls into the trap because it allows P to make the obscene joke about ‘tongue/tail’ (tail: pudendum) • Possibly P takes her in his arms as she attempts to get away “with my tongue in your tail? Nay, come again…”
Round 2 Winner: Petruchio Kate unwittingly allows P to make an obscene joke at her expense.
Wit, Puns, Repartees Round 3
Play on words / Insult • K seizes the opportunity to strike P & pre-empts his counter-attack by calling his buff (‘If you strike me, you are no gentleman, / And if no gentleman, why then no arms.’) • Also a clever play on ‘arms’ – she strikes him to make him let her go, but prevents his further advances by forcing him to make good his claim that he is a gentleman.
Play on words / Insult • K plays on the word ‘crest’ (continuing P’s play on the word ‘arms = crest’) & turns it into an insult (P is a coxcomb = a fool) • K continues this insult by calling him a craven, a cock that gives up easily, admitting defeat by dropping its crest.
Round 3 Winner: Katherina Kate diffuses an unfavourable situation to herself & still manages to insult him “coxcomb/craven”.
Attempt this question… “The Taming of the Shrew is far from being a sexist play…” How far would you agree with the comment above?
Clarify your approach… • What is ‘sexist’? • “subscribing to the idea or belief that the members of one sex are less intelligent or less capable than those of the other sex, and that certain jobs or activities are suitable for women and others are suitable for men” - Collins Cobuild
Clarify your approach… Is the play ‘sexist’? Does the play show • women are inferior to men • women must be subjugated by men (curbed in the power they hold, the language they use to express themselves) • women’s proper place is in the home, as a wife, with her proper duties, be demure… • men have their ‘duties’ just as women have theirs…
Scenes to consider • The suitors’ description of the sisters • P’s insistence that he is born to tame K • The wooing scene: what does the verbal sparring show? • Violence exercised by both sexes: K’s abuse of Bianca & Hortensio, P’s abuse of his servants esp. Grumio • The ‘auction’ scene • Wedding scene • The haberdasher, sun-moon scenes • The wager scene • K’s last speech
Use / Apply these quotes to your essay • 1.2.85-89 With wealth enough and young and beauteous Brought up as best becomes a gentlewoman: Her only fault, and that is faults enough, Is that she is intolerable curst And shrewd and froward • Katherina has only one fault, yet it’s a fatal fault – curst, shrewd, froward – she has too much independent spirit (‘froward’ – stubborn & disobedient). • Independent because – she has a mind of her own, and she insists on making it known. • Note the association between being shrewish with being devilish.
Use / Apply these quotes to your essay • 1.2.58-63 And wish thee to a shrewd ill-favoured wife? …And yet I’ll promise thee she shall be rich, And very rich… • The million-dollar question: would you marry a rich shrew? • Without the money, K would have been even more unmarriageable. • 1.2.92-95 For I will board her, though she chide as loud As thunder when the clouds in autumn crack. • ‘board her’ has sexual meaning. Disturbing because to Katherina, then, being forced to marry someone against her will & heart is akin to a kind of rape?
Use / Apply these quotes to your essay • 2.1.266-77 …Will you, nill you, I will marry you… …For I am he am born to tame you, Kate, And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate Conformable as other household Kates. • Gloating tone? + proclamatory tone as if already anticiapating victory. • Play on ‘Kate’ – she is now degraded to a mere object. • 4.1.178-84 Another way I have to man my haggard, To make her come and know her keeper’s call, That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites That bate and beat and will not be obedient. • Note talk of possession & power ‘make her, watch her, man’
Use / Apply these quotes to your essay • 4.2.176 Thus have I politicly begun my reign.. This is the way to kill a wife with kindness, And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humour. • ‘reign’ – connoting power • K is described as ‘mad’, just as P is similarly described. Significance? • 4.5.19-22 …sun it is not, when you say it is not, And the moon changes even as your mind. What you will have it named, even that it is, And so it shall be so for Katherine. • Sly sarcasm attributing fickleness and madness to P
Use / Apply these quotes to your essay • 4.3.73-80 Why, sir, I trust I may have leave to speak, And speak I will. I am no child, no babe. Your betters have endured me say my mind, And if you cannot, best you stop your ears. My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, Or else my heart concealing it will break, And, rather than it shall, I will be free Even to the uttermost, as I please, in words. • Note speech is symptomatic of freedom (as I please) & agency • Ability to express her feelings & opinion (say my mind) is associated with maturity (I am no child, no babe) & even survival.
Kate remains vocal & irrepressible throughout. There is little to distinguish between male & female speech (both have features of duplicity, wit, violence). Kate’s final speech obligates P to meet her standards / ideal of husband. Most male characters are caricatures – emaciated, hapless, long-suffering. Even the Alpha male (P) cannot control his servants very well, but the women did quite well for themselves. None of the women appear to submit to traditional roles eg. Bianca’s & the widow’s revolt. Kate’s offer of hands not taken up. Kate, the one who insists on linguistic freedom, is reduced to speaking only when permission is granted. Kate must speak the language of submission (gentleness, virtues). Men continue to speak the language of control & dominance. The ambiguity of K’s final speech (the fact that it appears sexist) reflects the playwright’s ambiguous attitude towards female empowerment. Men retain power even if they are ridiculous and weak. Strong females must answer to their foolish lords. All are wives and Kate openly preaches traditional roles. The play is not sexist / The play is sexist: