What is surprising about Kate's actions in Act Three, scene two, of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, the only thing that I find surprising in Kate's behavior is that she actually goes with her husband when he demands they leave their wedding celebration.

Petruchio shows up late to the wedding, wearing old, mismatched clothes, showing little regard or respect for his new wife. She is absolutely furious. As the wedding dinner is about to begin, Petruchio announces that he and Kate must leave. Several people beg him not to do so. Even Kate asks him if they might stay. When he says no, she becomes even more enraged. She tells Petruchio that he can do what he wants, and make himself happy, but she will not be leaving with him that day, nor the next—unless it suits her:

Do what thou canst, I will not go to-day;

No, nor to-morrow, not till I please myself.

The door is open, sir; there lies your way... (III.ii.206-208)

Kate then orders everyone into the bridal dinner, stating that sometimes a woman must stand up for herself so another cannot make a fool out of her. Petruchio agrees that the guests should go into the dinner, but she will not

Then, almost simply for show, he acts as if he is protecting his wife, and he warns off anyone who should try to stop him from taking Kate and leaving. He explains that Kate is his wife—he owns her as he might a horse or a home. He announces that thieves are chasing them, but that he will save her: he would fight off a million to save her! In this way, Petruchio sweeps his wife off, heading home to Padua.

And here she stands, touch her whoever dare;

I'll bring mine action on the proudest he

That stops my way in Padua. Grumio,

Draw forth thy weapon, we are beset with thieves;

Rescue thy mistress, if thou be a man.

Fear not, sweet wench, they shall not touch thee, Kate:

I'll buckler thee against a million. (231-237)

What seems so surprising is that Kate, who has made no secret of her dislike of Petruchio, allows herself to be quietly swept away. Kate has been compared to the mother of the devil. She has been rude and mean-spirited to all around her, and Petruchio has not been immune to her ill-treatment. However, even though moments before she was doing all she could to thwart her husband, surprisingly she accompanies him and Germio away to Padua without complaint.

Perhaps Kate is overwhelmed by her husband's particularly unusual behavior that day, but she leaves with nary a peep.

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The Taming of the Shrew

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