Katherine and Bianca of The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew brings out the comedic side of Shakespeare
where irony and puns carry the play throughout. In my paper, I will
concentrate on one the irony of the play, the introduction of the two
sisters. These two sisters begin off with the elder, Katherine, viewed as
a shrew, and Bianca as the angelic younger of the two. However, as the
play proceeds, we begin to see the true sides of the two sisters and their
roles totally turn around. I will try to analyze the method in which
Shakespeare introduces the two sisters and how he hints ...view middle of the document...
The shrew is not a shrew at all beneath the surface.
The play begins introducing Katherine with her father's words of
shame towards her when he offers his eldest daughter to the two suitors of
Bianca. The audience is then given their first impression of Katherine
from the Gremio, a suitor of Bianca, right after her father's words when he
says: "To cart her, rather. She is too rough for me." (Act 1, Scene 1, 55)
From here, Katherine is given the image of a turbulent, "curst and shrewd"
character. She talks back to her father with total disrespect and shows
her temper to the company around her. However, understanding her position,
one does begin to sympathize with her as in a public place, where such
passersby as Tranio and Lucentio can easily overhear, Baptisa informs
Bianca's suitors that he will not allow either of them to marry his younger
daughter until a husband is found for Katherine. In effect, he is
announcing that he wants Katherine off his hands. He then offers her to
either of Bianca's suitors. Katherine humiliation at this point mus t be
extreme; she is discussed on a public street like an article of merchandise,
which her father is unable to get rid of, and then offered nonchalantly to
a pair of suitors who have already expressed their preference for her
sister. Her image as a shrew takes a step back.
Apparently gentle in her behavior, Bianca is an unkind sister and a
disobedient wife. She fosters her father's attitude of favoritism for
herself and dislike for Katherine by playing the part of a noble victim.
Her disregard for Lucentio's wishes as a newlywed leads to grim speculation
as to what her behavior may be when they have been married longer.
Ironically, as the play ends, she is more of a shrew than her sister.
We first see impressions of Bianca when she 'humbly' takes leave
from the awkward situation of her sister arguing about the preferential
treatment her father gives. (Act 1, Scene 1 81-84) She is given this
divine image as bystanders like Lucentio speak words of: "O yes, I saw
sweet beauty in her face, Such as the daughter of Agenor had". This give
the audience (those that do not know the content of the play) the
misconception that Bianca will be the more glorified of the two and maybe
as an example for he taming of Katherine. However, as the play evolves, we
begin to see clues to the person under the sheep's clothes as Bianca
constantly takes advantage of her father's favoritism and has no regard to
her sister's feelings and emotions. She is slowly seen as a witless, yet
cunning person that cares only for herself. In the first scene of Act 2
where Katherine ties up Bianca, she is...