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IS THE 'TAMING OF THE SHREW' A SEXIST PLAY?



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From its title one would think that 'The Taming of the Shrew' is about women's lack of rights, duties , and their inferior social status in the 16th century.1 That is one reason why it is considered to be a controversial play, but there are two sides of the story. Many of Shakespeare's admirers have been embarrassed about his chauvinistic point of view of how to tame a wife. In fact, it is unlikely that anyone today in our feminist era would write such a play unless they did so tongue in cheek.2 A play like 'The Taming of the Shrew' would certainly get protestors out on the street marching; holding banners aloft. 'The Taming of the Shrew' seems to offend audiences today and engenders much debate.3 On the other hand 'The Taming of the Shrew' should be seen as a comedy before we think about an interpretation. Comedies were written to cheer up the audience, make them laugh and it may have been Shakespeare's intention to give an ironic point of view about masculine ideas of a female role model in a predominantly male world. It is the Shakespearean society that is offending us, not Shakespeare himself.4 1 The Arden of Shakespeare - Brian Morris (Editor) (2002); The Taming of the Shrew, London: Methuen, p.111. 2 Nick Curtis, 'Problem Play' Royal Shakespeare Company, The Taming of the Shrew (programm), (2003), p. 8. 3 Michael Billington, 'Problem Play' Royal Shakespeare Company, The Taming of the Shrew (programm), (2003),p. 9. 4 Anne Thompson, 'Problem Play' RSC, The Taming of the Shrew (programm), (2003), p. 9.

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