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  • To Kill a Wife with Kindness: Early modern marriage in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew
  • Bakkalár
  • This essay examines Shakespeare’s portrayal of marital issues in his play, The Taming
    of the Shrew, particularly in light of the significant changes in attitudes towards
    marriage brought about by the Reformation. Old and brutal methods of wifedisciplining
    began to be frowned upon and replaced by new ideas presumably more
    suited to a marriage of equals. These newfangled methods are demonstrated in the play
    by Petruccio, a boisterous gentleman who purports to know how to “kill a wife with
    kindness”. The fundamental question is whether the play condones or criticizes his
    methods. The essay also examines the way in which his wife, Katherine, is treated as a
    commodity, sold to the first bidder who comes along in what was still a largely
    patriarchal society, despite the fact that it was ruled by a female monarch. The concept
    of the shrew will also be discussed alongside the notion that a harmonious and violence
    free household was dependent on a woman’s submission to the husband. Lastly, this
    essay looks for signs of violence and maltreatment within Petruccio’s seemingly gentle
    treatment, primarily by comparing the couple’s often erratic conduct to the
    psychological behaviour pattern known as Stockholm Syndrome.

  • 18.5.2009

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