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When you analyze a character in a Shakespeare play, you need to find how the character behaves and speaks and also note what the other characters say about your character. This way you can find clues about the character’s appearance and personality.
Take Act 1 scene 1, for example, where you may find a wealth of information introducing Katherina, her behavior, and how others perceive her. First, notice that Baptista, father to Katherina and her sister Bianca, enters with his both of his daughters. Katherina, however, speaks her mind forcefully in this scene while Bianca’s words are modest and humble. This is revealing because of the status of women Shakespeare’s time: if unmarried, they were obedient to their fathers; if married, subservient to their husbands. Katherina says what she thinks and protests to her father, loud enough to be overheard, when he has resolved to Bianca’s suitors that he will not consider letting Bianca marry until Katherina is married.
Next in this scene, notice what the gentlemen say about Katherina. When Baptista invites Gremio and Hortensio to court Katherina, Gremio replies: “
To cart her rather. She’s too rough for me.
No mates for you,
Unless you were of gentler, milder mould.
Read the play closely and look for other scenes which reveal Katherina’s character through her behavior and her speech; in addition, note how other characters behave towards her, and what the other characters say to her and about her. Once you have compiled your notes from the text, form your own interpretation of Katherina and gather quotations plus their act, scene, and line numbers for use as support of your interpretation. Include supporting details you find about her behavior, appearance, personality, thoughts, and emotions.
As you draft your paper, remember to include in the introduction the title of the play and the playwright. Include a general thesis statement that shows your interpretation of Katherina. Add a forecasting preview of the supporting points you will discuss—appearance, behavior, and emotions, for example. Before beginning your character study, remember to briefly summarize the play. The body of your paper can address each of the characteristics you find to support your interpretation of Katherina in at least a paragraph for each characteristic. Include and embed quotations from the play to support your points. Finally, your conclusion can emphasize and summarize your thesis statement and supporting points.
Write in third person objective so that your emphasis is on your subject. Remember that a literary analysis is always in present verb tense. A work of literature comes alive in the present any time it is read—or often in the case of a play, viewed in performance. For this reason, a literary analysis is in present tense.
I recommend the site Open Source Shakespeare, which includes Shakespeare’s complete works and a search tool so that you may find all of Katherina’s lines or references to her.
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