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KATHERINEA.SIRLUCK Patriarchy, Pedagogy, and the Divided Self in The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew has been read and directed in a variety of ways. It has been seen as a rollicking comic flyting match between a resourceful suitor and a dangerous man-hater.l Some productions have encouraged the idea that Katharina secretly longs for a man too strong for her, one who can awaken her true feminine nature. A more contemporary form of this view has recently been championed by Ralph Berry, who perceives Katharina's reluctance in marrying Petruchi0 as merely 'ostensible,' and sees a romantic 'union of hearts and minds/ once negotiations 'between the principals' have been completed in a spirit of 'robust materialism." Feminists like Juliet Dusinberre are ready to accord Shakespeare a trans-patTiarchal perspective. 3 Others present the playas a brutally frank celebration of patriarchal power, or as a despairing recognition of the same.4 I would like to consider the playas a study in analogical power relations, wrought within the dramatic conventions of comedy, which themselves culminate in marriage, as the ideologically correct resolutiOfl of the conflict between desire and the social order, between autonomy and the demands of the community. It is a common argument of recent scholars that Shakespeare frequently exploits generic conventions in a subversive way; that Ls, he employs conventional dramatic forms, which carry with them certain traditional ideological assumptions; but he introduces ingredients that undermine or work against those assumptions, and call into question the Jverities' attached to the generic decorum. Thus, in Antony and Cleopatra, Antony's wavering allegiance and cOJnicaUy clumsy suicide partly undercut the traditional dignity and solemnity associated with heroic tragedy. In the process, traditional notions of the unified coherent subject of tragedy and the elevating, cathartic, sacrificial death of the protagonist are also challenged. Equally, our dissatisfaction with some of the marriages at the conclusion of As You Like It or Twelfth Night or A Midsummer Night's Dream throws a shadow of ambiguity across the festival/solution' of romantic comedy. With this dissatisfaction comes a challenge to the prescription of marriage as a cure for all the lesser iUs of the community: desire, the need of the individual to assert autonomy, the generational conflict Shakespeare's emphasis in The Taming of The Shrew on the disturbing implications of Petruchio's triumph seems to me to unden::ut the power of UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 4, SUMMER 1991 418 KATHERINE A. StRLUCK the festive comic answer to political conflicts within culture. In presenting us with an uncomfortable conclusion, in which the victory of one individual depends upon the total defeat of another, rather than the compromise or balance of clailTIS that is implied by the cOlnic tradition, the playwright complicates matters and makes indigeStible the wedding-cake ofcommunal sanction. Thus, the play represents the social practices and institutions of Shakespeare's time in a way that highlights their tyranny, despite foregrounding their success. Further, Shakespeare demonstrates parallels between different kinds of tyranny: husband over wife, abusive master over servant, and cruel parent over child. This mirroring stnlcture encourages a potentially transformative experience ofempathyin the audience, because it connects the experience of deprivation and abjection undergone by classes ordinarily kept separate: men (who have all been children), women, and selVants. One of the first puzzles to confront u.S as we approach the play is the strange metatheatrical framing device of Christopher Sly and his 'dream.' (Shakespeare's text as printed in the Folio has no dosing reference to Sly - nothing after the Induction. The non-Shakespearean p]ay The Taming of a Shrew, registered on 2. May 15941 has Sly awakened by the Tapster and sent home to his shrewish wife.) The play begins with an exchange between Sly and the hostess of an alehouse, reminiscent of Falstaff's swaggering with Mistress Quickly. 'Let the world slide. Sessa!' (Induction, i.6) he oies, announcing his affinity with Bacchus and the Saturnalia, not to mention certain Christian saints. When the hostess threatens to {etch the law, he faUs asleep, clearly believing himself beyond reach of any constable. Hunting horns sound and a nameless lord...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 417-434
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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