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In The Taming of the Shrew, explain the metaphor in Petruchio's soliloquy in IV.i. at...

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r-m123 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted December 7, 2010 at 3:33 PM via web

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In The Taming of the Shrew, explain the metaphor in Petruchio's soliloquy in IV.i. at the end.

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 7, 2010 at 6:38 PM (Answer #1)

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This soliloquy that comes at the end of Act IV scene 1 features Petruchio's plans to "tame" the "shrew" that he has recently married. Throughout the soliloquy, Petruchio compares his wife to a bird of prey that he is trying to train and this extended metaphor is used to express his ideas of how he plans to "kill a wife with kindness":

My falcon now is sharp and passing empty,

And till she stoop she must not be full-gorged,

For then she never looks upon her lure.

Another way I have to man my haggard,

To make her come and know her keeper's call:

That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites

That bate and beat and will not be obedient.

Note the series of terms specifically applied to the training of birds of prey and how the trainer must not allow the bird to "gorge" themselves and therefore lose sight of the "lure" - the bit of meat that he holds out to her to keep her around. We have just seen a scene where Petruchio does not let Katharina eat, and he plans to not let her sleep at all that night. Clearly he has but one goal:

And thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humour.

He that knows better how to tame a shrew,

Now let him speak; 'tis charity to show.

Thus through the extended metaphor of training a bird of prey, Petruchio reveals his strategy of taming his "shrew" and how he can show her that he is in charge.

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 7, 2010 at 6:52 PM (Answer #2)

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You mention certain line numbers in your question, but it would help in future question-asking for you to know that there are different editions of all of Shakespeare's plays, each one edited differently, which means that they probably have different line numberings.  You would be much safer in giving a part of the quote that you would like explicated.  My Arden edition ends the soliloquy at line 195, so your line citation is confusing.

That said, the most famous extended metaphor in this speech comes at lines 177 - 185 (174-182 in the Enotes edition) in my Arden edition and reads as follows:

My falcon now is sharp and passing empty;
And till she stoop she must not be full-gorged,(175)
For then she never looks upon her lure.
Another way I have to man my haggard,
To make her come and know her keeper's call,
That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites
That bate and beat and will not be obedient.

She ate no meat to-day, nor none shall eat;
Last night she slept not, nor to-night she shall not;

In this passage, Petruchio compares Kate to a trained falcon, used for hunting.  In Shakespeare's day, these birds would have been highly skilled and answerable to one master only.  They  were captured wild and then subdued and trained by their master.  This transformation from wild creature to tamed and useful one is exactly how Petruchio views his task with Kate.

There is no "love" involved in this process.  It is a disinterested, practical one.  He will keep Kate awake all night (as trainers did their falcons) and make sure that she is dependant upon him for all her sustenance and needs.  In this way, he truly becomes the "master" of his wife and she is "tamed" as a wild hunting bird is tamed by its owner.

For more on this soliloquy and Petruchio, please follow the links below.


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