The Woman's Prize

by John Fletcher

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tamed is a play by John Fletcher that was originally written as a response to William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The comedy's primary theme is the examination of gender roles in society, especially during the time of the play's publication (1647).

Gender roles—in terms of social perceptions on the male-female balance of power—are reversed. Petruchio is an alpha-male and head of a household. However, his wife Maria "tames" Petruchio, the "tamer," and thus the power of the household shifts to Maria, or that the social power had always belonged to her. In this vein, The Woman's Prize is similar to Aristophanes's play Lysistrata.

In a subplot of the play, the character of Livia also illustrates the major theme of female empowerment by joining the other women in protest. This is a reaction to an unwanted arranged marriage to a man she does not like. The act shows that choiceless-ness can be eradicated by simply choosing, or by exerting one's will.

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