The Taming of the Shrew
Gender Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel (5.2.7)
Kate compares husbands and wives to princes and subjects to assert the hierarchical power structure in marriage. Here, she implies that the home is like a mini-kingdom, which gives credence to the idea that unruly wives/subjects threaten the very fabric of the family structure and are a kind of danger to the public.
Now, for my life, Hortensio fears his widow. (5.2.8)
Petruchio's comment about his friend Hortensio says a lot about the way men interact and give each other a hard time in the play. The comment is made in good fun but there's also a lot of truth in the statement, which suggests that Petruchio enjoys dominating his male friends just as much as he enjoys ruling over his wife.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe; (5.2.7)
Critics point out that Kate's allusion to the male body's "painful labor" is an unusual subversion of the Genesis story, where women's bodies are subject to painful childbirth. The emphasis in this part of Kate's speech is on mutual obligation in marriage, not just one partner's obedience. On the other hand, the allusion to Eve's fall in and of itself can be seen as a reminder of women's "frailty."