In Act 3, Scene 2 of The Taming of the Shrew would Kate have seemed a dutiful daughter and bride to a contemporary audience?  

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, Kate's attitude in this scene is deeply confusing. She's previously said that she'd rather be hanged than marry with Petruchio. Yet at the start of this scene, she openly bemoans the fact that Petruchio hasn't turned up:

No shame but mine: I must, forsooth, be forced
To give my hand opposed against my heart
Unto a mad-brain rudesby full of spleen;
Who woo'd in haste and means to wed at leisure.
I told you, I, he was a frantic fool...

This would probably have shocked the Elizabethans. Not only is Katharina shouting at her father (surely not the done thing!) but she also rejects the choice of husband her father has made on her behalf. Petruchio, she says, is a fool, mad-brained, and entirely unsuitable. In a culture where fathers were allowed to choose their daughters' husbands and organise their marriage, Katharina is behaving in an extremely unusual way.

Yet it isn't all negative. Petruchio, when he eventually arrives, over-rides everyone: Baptista, Tranio, and even the vicar. When he announces, to everyone's outrage, that he's going to leave without attending the feast, it's only Kate who dares go against him:

Do what thou canst, I will not go today,
No, nor tomorrow, not till I please myself.
The door is open, sir: there lies your way...

The fact that Katharina is there at all suggests that, somewhere, she wants to be. And you might well think she's right to complain. But a dutiful daughter or bride? No way.

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The Taming of the Shrew

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