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The Taming of the Shrew Theme of Marriage

The Taming of the Shrew takes a good hard look at marriage and, to a large extent, makes fun of the power struggles that occur within marital relationships. On the one hand, the story line and structure seem to promote typical 16th-century ideas toward matrimony and proper relations between husbands and wives. Yet, the play also goes out of its way to criticize and call into question some of the pervasive attitudes toward marriage arrangements (brokered between men without any input from women) and the ways men and women struggle for power positions once wed. One thing's for certain, most male characters treat marriage as a financial or business transaction, where women are commodities to be traded.

Questions About Marriage

  1. How do men's attitudes toward marriage differ from those of women?
  2. How are marriages arranged? Is there every any resistance to traditional arrangements? If so, who resists and why?
  3. How is the state of marriage portrayed in the play? Positive? Negative? Somewhere in between?
  4. Why does Tranio continue to pretend to be Lucentio, even after it's clear that Bianca and Lucentio will elope?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Despite the play's fixation on bringing together young couples, its overall outlook on the state of marriage is bleak at best.

In the play, marriage is portrayed as a business transaction meant to bring profit to the families involved.

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