The Taming of the Shrew - Petruchio Term Paper

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In the Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio recognizes, respects and

desires Kate\'s intelligence and strength of character. He does not

want to conquer or truly tame her. He is a man who is very confident

in himself and does not want or need someone to massage his ego.

Petruchio seems to me to be a man of sport and challenge and likes to

surround himself with witty, challenging people. He wants in a mate

what Kate has - fire.

From Petruchio\'s response to his friend Hortensio (I.ii.64-75),

it might be said that Petruchio came to Padua to make himself richer

by marriage, to any woman, no matter how wretched. Petruchio is not

in desperate need of money (I.ii.56-57). He tells Hortensio

(I.ii.49-57) that his father has died and that he is out in the world

to gain experiences he cannot at home and only secondarily to find a

wife. Also, immediately before this declaration, is the scene of

misunderstanding between he and his servant Grumio about knocking on

the gate (I.ii.5-43). I see this exchange as demonstration of his

enjoyment of verbal sport, a good example of Petruchio\'s sense of

humor and his appreciation of things non-conventional. Though

Petruchio may not agree with what society has determined to be proper

and dignified, he is aware of the importance of appearing to conform.

In what he says to Hortensio, I feel he is simply extending this sport

and humor into the ironic.

It is in Hortensio\'s description of Kate that I believe

Petruchio\'s interest is captured. Hortensio describes Kate

(I.ii.85-89) as wealthy, young, beautiful, properly brought up

intolerably cursed, shrewed and froward. Though Hortensio finds the

last three traits negative characteristics, Petruchio appears to be a

man who also posses, and is proud of, these negative qualities. That

the qualities are considered negative in Kate and not Petruchio is a

reflection of the societal standards of the fifteen hundreds. It was

okay for a man to be that way, but not a woman. Petruchio is the kind

of man who would want a mate with similar qualities to his own to

challenge him, sharpen his wits and keep his interest. If he had

wanted someone who was conformed to societies expectations, or who had

already determined to deceive by concealing opinions and views, he

would have chosen someone more like Bianca. However, Petruchio is a

clever man who sees beyond façades because he uses them, in addition

to a lot of irony himself (II.i.46), (II.i.283-289).

It is clear in Grumio and his other servants (as demonstrated in

the opening of act 4 (IV.i.1-113) that Petruchio prefers the

interesting to the conventional. But because Petruchio understands

the ways of society, he knows he must demonstrate to Kate the

importance of proper public appearance. To Petruchio it is appearance

rather than genuine conformance that is important. Otherwise, the

woman he loves would be called names and treated in ways Petruchio

might be required by honor to defend.

In his ironic way, Petruchio does speak consistently about making

Kate yield to him (II.i.124,136), (II.i.269-271) and of his monetary

motivation (II.i.123,124). But, his methods are sportsman-like

(Falconry, (IV.i.183-190) and game-like demonstrations of the

outrageous (beating Grumio because Kate\'s horse stumbled IV.i,68-80).

Petruchio\'s servants like him very well and enjoy his entertainments.

In what Petruchio says following he and Kate\'s first meeting (when her

father walks in with Gremio and Tranio (II.i.269)) it becomes clear

just how heavily Petruchio employs irony. He states that he is born

to tame and conform Kate. Though the servants he has chosen to

surround himself with are neither tame nor conforming to what most

would consider proper servants. He also says he must and will have

Katherine for his wife. This is a man who is completely taken by this

woman: he called her properly by her formal name and says he will

have her. Petruchio is as taken by Kate\'s person as the other suitors

are taken by Bianca\'s beauty and coyness.

In the above scene, Petruchio tells Kate to never make denial.

He knows she is not yet convinced, but is telling her to trust him and

go along with what he says for the sake of appearance. This slowly

sinks into Kate and finally takes hold when she understands

Petruchio\'s way of irony on the way home to her father\'s (IV.v.12-22).

Because they are so much alike, Kate takes very quickly to Petruchio\'s

games of words and irony (IV.v.37-50). Petruchio is the kind of lively

person who would be disappointed in a victory too easily won, and

disappointed in Kate if she were genuinely tamed. I feel certain she

will have her victories, and Petruchio will enjoy them as much as his


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