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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Taming of the Shrew often aligns its characters with natural (and sometimes supernatural) forces. One of the clearest examples of this is Petruchio's funny little habit of linking himself with the wind. The connection is casual at first when Petruchio suggests the "wind" has blown him into town (1.2.51). Soon after, however, he suggests that he is the wind that will blow out Kate's "fire" (2.1.141). Silly Shakespeare – anyone who knows anything about the Santa Ana winds in California knows that wind fuels fire. Nevertheless, Petruchio sees himself as a kind of super power that will conquer the "devilish" Kate of her fiery ways. This has the effect of elevating him from a natural force (the wind) to a kind of supernatural deity. We can't even count the number of times male characters refer to Kate as the "devil," which implies, of course, that the one to tame the "devil" (in this case, Petruchio) is godlike.

Petruchio's not the only one who sees "shrew-taming" as a godlike feat. When Petruchio insists that it's seven o'clock or "what o'clock [he] say[s] it is" (even though it's really two o'clock), Hortensio admires Petruchio's ability to "command the sun" (4.3.203). What Hortensio implies here is that Petruchio is able to control the way Kate spends her time by determining (like the position of the sun in the sky) what time of day it is. But, Hortensio doesn't say Petruchio is "like" the sun – he says he "controls" the sun, like a god. In this way, Hortensio simultaneously aligns Petruchio with elements in nature and elevates him to supernatural status by suggesting that P dominates the natural world.

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