In The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i, list words Petruchio uses to describe Katharina and explain how it is humorous.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, in Act Two, scene one, Petruchio makes a list of Katharina's charming characteristics. He describes her as having beauty and wit. He recognizes her affability and bashful modesty. He insists that she has "wondrous qualities and mild behavior."

What makes this so humorous, and ironic, is that Katharina is none of these things. Where she may be a beauty, it is only skin-deep. Her wit is sharp, but not to be admired as she uses her tongue like a razor. She is not affable at all, but very hard to get along with, and the words "bashful" and "modesty" do not pertain to Katharina under any circumstances, probably not even when she is sleeping. There is nothing mild about her behavior, hence her label of "shrew." One would be hard pressed to discover any characteristics she possesses that could be construed as "wondrous qualities."

Petruchio says:

I am a gentleman of Verona, sir,

That, hearing of her beauty and her wit,

Her affability and bashful modesty,

Her wondrous qualities and mild behavior, (50)

Am bold to show myself a forward guest

Within your house, to make mine eye the witness

Of that report which I so oft have heard.

Because we know that no one has reported the fine characteristics he lists as Katharina's, we can only assume that he is determined to marry her, and insists that she is all of these things to push his desire to marry her. He also seems to believe that he can harness her wild behavior.

I am as peremptory as she proud-minded;
And where two raging fires meet together
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury:
Though little fire grows great with little wind,
Yet extreme gusts will blow out fire and all:(135)
So I to her and so she yields to me;
For I am rough and woo not like a babe.


vikdix | Student

This is a play that suggests a man has desprately fallen in love with a womian, and he does not even care that she is feisty, sharp witted and a really difficult person. Kate, at the time likes being difficult, she enjoys the banter between herself and Petruchio.  But as Petruchio keeps hounding Kate, she does not give up, she persistantly fights him physically and verbally. He is passionate and wants her, she is cold towards him, and the impression she gives is that she hates the very air he breathes. But, truthfully the attraction is on both sides, Kate is just enjoying the attention.

vikdix | Student

In the taming of the shrew, act 2 Scene one the words Petruchio uses to describe Kate are "Plain Kate & Bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst. He follows on to desecribe Kate being the prettiest in Christendom town and end of talking about her beauty. The reason why this is so humorous is that Kate is nothing as he describes, beautiful, yes, but on the outside, on the inside Kate is bad tempered, unfemine and just not a friendly person. The truth is that her lable "The Shrew" suits her.

The Evidence is in black and white. Pretuchio is desprately trying to woo her to become his wife. From the beginning of the scene, shakespeare is suggesting they both have an attraction towards one another, as quoted "She eyes Pretruchio curiously, as he does her." but Kate, although is attracted to Petruchio fights him until the end. She admits "If i be waspish, best beware my sting" earlier on in the scene Shakespeare suggests that Kate strikes Petruchio, with no regrets of her actions. it is as though she will not let herself be loved, but with Petruchio's constant hounding, will the shrew in Kate be driven out?  

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The Taming of the Shrew

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