Jealousy in “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Jealousy is a common and reoccurring theme throughout Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The emotion is showcased in more than one character and causes each of these individuals to act wicked or deceitful in some way. The most obvious of jealousy is evident in Katherine; her shrewdness is directly related to the envy she feels towards her sister Bianca. A few of the men in this play including Hortensio, Gremio and Lucentio are also touched by the feeling of jealousy during their pursuit for the fair Bianca. Jealousy within “The Taming of the Shrew” induces these characters to act out of the ordinary causing for an intriguing and dramatic plot.
Jealousy in Katherine’s case is what causes her to be so wicked, not only to her sister but to everyone around her. The beginning of Act II clearly defines Katherine’s jealousy and its source when Bianca states, “Is it for him ...view middle of the document...
I must dance barefoot on her wedding day
And, for your love to her, lead apes in hell. (2.1.31-34)
Katherine realizes her sister is favored even in the eyes of Baptista and her jealousy grows in fathoming that Bianca will be wed before her, leaving Katherine an old maid. Katherine’s jealousy gets the best of her and causes her to act in such wicked ways. Jealousy in the case of the gentlemen in “The Taming of The Shrew” once again revolves around Bianca. The rivalry between Gremio, Hortensio and Lucentio to obtain Bianca’s hand in marriage creates the utmost of jealousy amongst the men. Near the end of Act I Gremio and Hortensio’s bantering displays this underlying tone of jealousy and constant rivalry in the fight for Bianca:
GREMIO. For this reason if you'll know -
That she's the choice love of Signor Gremio.
HORTENSIO That she's the chosen of Signor Hortensio. (1.2.228-230)
This bickering between the men is constant throughout the play. In a way to curb this jealousy Hortensio and Lucentio take action by deceiving the Baptista and others when they pose as tutors for Bianca. This course of action only heightens the level of jealousy especially for Hortensio:
How fiery and forward our pedant is!
Now, for my life, the knave doth court my love.
Pedascule, I'll watch you better yet. (3.1.45-47)
Jealousy yet again ignites action within the male characters. It causes these men to act in ways they wouldn’t normally act and all because of the fair Bianca.
Jealousy is at the heart of deception and wickedness throughout “The Taming of the Shrew.” Shakespeare provokes the notions of true love and human nature when met with jealousy and greed. The simple character of Bianca is able to stimulate action amongst Katherine, Hortensio, Gremio and Lucentio as she enables true feelings of jealousy amongst the group. Jealousy does not prove to be beneficial for most of the character’s involved. In the end it is best not to let a feeling such as jealousy get in the way of one’s true self as Shakespeare acknowledges.
Thompson, Ann. The Taming of the Shrew Edited by Ann Thompson. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984. 44-154.