The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

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Can anyone demonstrate how the character of Kate can be explained using the structure of Shakespeare's plays?

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mrerick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Shakespeare usually followed a standard Elizabethan Five Act Play format when he wrote. In this format, the first act served as the introduction of plot, characters, and scene/setting. The second act contained rising action: those events leading up to the conflict (in a tragedy) or climax (in a comedy). The third act was the conflict/climax; this act represents a turn in power for our central character (described later). The fourth act is falling action: those events leading our central character from that conflict/climax to his or her resolution. And, of course, act five is resolution: what happens to our characters in relation to the plot. Those five acts are all joined by a central character who needs to be intricately involved in all five acts and their specific purposes.

With that in mind, Kate is most likely our central character in TOS (although an argument could be made for Petruchio also). Kate, her shrewishness, and the reason for Baptisa forcing her marriage are introduced to us in Act One (introduction). We see Petruchio meet her as a suitor and his early attempts at "wooing" her for a potential marriage (rising action). In Act three, she is married to Petruchio, and they immediately leave for Petruchio's home (climax, and the change in power from Kate to Petruchio). In Act four, the taming process is in full effect as Petruchio withholds sleep and food among other acts that Kate must accept (falling action). And if Act Five, as the bet reveals to us, Kate is tamed (resolution).

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alexb2 eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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Can you explain your question a little bit? What do you mean by structure?

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revolution | Student

What do you mean by the word "structure"? Do you mean the plotting of the story?

If you mean that (I assumed you do), this Shakespeare comedy follows a standard five acts to tell his play, similar to his other acts like "Macbeth", "Hamlet", "King Lear".

First, it is the introduction, or the beginning point of the story, which introduces to the new character, Christopher Sly. This chapter also starts the basic necessities of a plot graph- the characterization of the people and the setting. Next, it would be the rising action, meaning a conflict had occurred and action has build up, which introduces yet another new character, Petruchio who devised desperate and repeated attempts to woo kate, the main protagonist of the story and wanted to take her hand in marriage.

Next, the plot thickens and it leads us to the climax, the breaking point of the story, where Petruchio and Kate are finally married and the couple left to live in Petruchio's house.

Next, it would be the falling action, where the conflict is finally coming to a close and everything is going to be all right. In this part, the taming and the brainwashing of Kate had taken a complete process, which also hits the jackpot as the book has the same name. A lot of basic essentials was removed from her and she was make into an animal-type person, who has no freedom from his/her cruel master.

At the end, the resolution begins and the story comes to a complete full stop. In the last part of the story, which is Act 5, Kate was finally "tamed" fully, so concluding the whole story and bringing the chapter to an end.

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