In a lot of Shakespeare’s plays, there is a strong male lead that could be a hero or a villain, and there are also very strong females leads that are described as heroines. Katherine is the chief female role in this play, which makes her the heroine. Katherine is not really someone who the audience would look up to or try to resemble in life, but she is a strong independent woman who does not need a man to take care of her… at least that is how she felt in the beginning. This play shows her quick wit and fiery spirit through humiliation. It is kind of sad that it has to be done that way and that this play made her look crazy, but that is what made this a comedy.
Even in the first part of the play, the audience finds out right away from two of the suitors that Katherine is not afraid to fight against anything she does not want. She does not like the fact that her father is setting her up with men she does not love or care for, and on top of that her little sister Bianca loves the idea of marriage and kisses up to her father to get everything she wants. The problem is Bianca cannot marry until Katherine does and this does not make either of them happy.
Katherine is described in the play as a shrew, a bad-tempered or aggressively assertive woman. In this time period and culture, it is very rude to fight against a father’s wishes, and it is completely against the culture to fight so strongly and aggressively against the idea of an arranged marriage because it was part of a lot of family’s culture back then.
In today’s culture, a lot of women would see this defiance and willing to fight for what this woman wants as a good thing. It is interesting that a woman acting like this during Shakespeare’s time is seen as a shrew that needs to be tamed by a man. This play is a feminist’s nightmare because, in the end, Katherine gives a speech describing that it is her duty to obey her husband and that women are soft and weak. Katherine says, “And place your hands below your husband’s foot, In token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready, may it do him ease” (Act 5.scene 2). This quote is what ends the play and finalizes the transformation from a “shrew” to a respectable married woman in that time period.
In conclusion, Elizabethan England was a time where a woman was expected to be obedient to the man, especially their husbands. Respect is still expected today but it is also a time period where a woman can be adventurers, inventors, and bosses of their own businesses. It was very interesting to read this play in the mindset of today’s growing feminism culture. It made the transformation from, a shrew to a respectable woman, in Katherine stand out so much more. Whereas back then it was expected.