The Taming of the Shrew
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Why will you mew her up,
Signior Baptista, for this fiend of hell,
And make her bear the penance of her tongue? (1.1.3)
This isn't the first time a suitor complains that Baptista "mews up" or cages Bianca. Here, Gremio asserts that Baptista is punishing Bianca (by not letting her get engaged) for Katherine's sins (being a shrew, which prevents her from getting married). We can't really take Gremio seriously here – he speaks on behalf of his interests, not Bianca's. It's hard to imagine that in marrying Gremio, a man old enough to be her father, Bianca's life would be any different. Still, there's a lot of truth in the statement. Bianca is not free to marry or legally make her own decisions. She does find a way though – her eloping with Lucentio is an effective way around Baptista.
Why, and I trust I may go too, may I not? What,
shall I be appointed hours; as though, belike, I
knew not what to take and what to leave, ha? (1.1.4)
Kate often objects to the way her father controls her every action. Here, though, Kate exaggerates the degree to which Baptista exercises his parental authority. When he says, "And so farewell. Katharina, you may stay; / For I have more to commune with Bianca," Baptista hasn't so much ordered Kate to stay put as he has dismissed her as inconsequential. Part of Baptista's power over Kate is his ability to make her feel small and insignificant in the eyes of her only parent.
Good sister, wrong me not, nor wrong yourself,
To make a bondmaid and a slave of me;
That I disdain: but for these other gawds,
Unbind my hands, I'll pull them off myself, (2.1.1)
Gremio's complaint that Bianca is penned up and punished for Kate's shrewish behavior (see 1.1.3) is manifested on stage in a very literal and comedic representation of sibling rivalry. We think this moment is pretty funny, especially because Shakespeare seems to mock Gremio's earlier comment about Bianca. Still, there's something disturbing about an image of a woman bound by her own sister and we're reminded that women often inflict violence on one another in a twisted imitation of patriarchal control. (See, this is what we mean when we say that the play is often simultaneously humorous and dark.)