Kate’s knowledge of all her sisters’ suitors runs her through complete jealousy. Like most women in society in Elizabethan times Kate’s main aim was to get married. Marriage at such a time gave a woman status and a meaning she was no longer a tenant in her father’s house. Women could not own property or have any say, to be married was the closest thing to any respect and authority they would get the chance to have. Tradition stated that if a woman were to marry after her younger sister apart from the embarrassment she would be put to humiliation at the occasion of the wedding itself and have to dance bare foot. Most people felt this is the reason for Kate’s behaviour but as I have said earlier this doesn’t make sense because the reason she’s in this situation is because of her behaviour.
There seems to be a buried reason for her behaviour, which is not established. As her and Petrucio exchange words on there first meeting Petrucio calls Kate a wasp she replies “If I be waspish best beware my sting,” pointing out she knows how she behaves and warns Petrucio of it. Petrucio then says “my remedy is then to pluck it out” Kate replies “ay if the fool could find where it lies.” In this sentence she gives away a huge clue that people all think they know what is upsetting her but really have no idea at all. It is not simply the reason that she may be made a fool of in front of “friends” and family as she says her self this would be something she could overcome, as she says later she has the spirit to carry on, Act 3 scene 2, “Gentlemen, forward to the bridal dinner: I see a woman may be made a fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.”
However Bianca does try to steal her thunder, even after Kate’s wedding Lucentio says, “Shall sweet Bianca practise how to bride it?” Bianca knows how her sister is treated and has no sympathy she tries to play on it and anger her more; and as we further learn another one of Kate’s aims is to have revenge on all those people who have made her feel so miserable, and at this point can see why, all she wishes for is to be approved to her sister. Tired of being second best she wants to out shine her at least once.
Bianca is the superlative of woman hood, the way she is spoken to, spoken about and treated as a whole; is completely different compared with Kate’s treatment of disgust. Bianca’s superior reputation meant that she was the perfect woman for a wife and a daughter; people’s comments on Bianca are so complementary compared to those that Kate receives. Bianca is thought of as “goddess” “Minerva” well known for her “mild behaviour and sobriety.” Bianca loves the things that a well bought up young lady, she has interest in poetry music and language all things that were thought of as something a well educated person would know as they are associated with culture and understanding.
At the time status was very important to people to have any rights, learning about culture made people seem more attractive and superior. This meant people were more desirable to men for marriage. Many different perspectives on marriage are expressed throughout the play. At the beginning of the play there is an induction, which emphasises Elizabethan society. Sly and his wife act out the typical marriage of the times. After the man tricks Sly into believing he is rich he straightaway starts to treat his wife in a certain manor as if it’s a code of conduct of how a wife is treated. He treated her as if she were just there to serve and to sleep with. The wife who I really a servant is instructed to play a long with Sly, so once more she is being told to act like a proper wife, and the servant has no problem with it but in fact plays along.
Bianca and her suitors have a different sort of marriage. Most of her suitors want her because she makes a good example. She ahs a well known impeccable reputation of which, makes her the most perfect woman. The contrast between Bianca and Katherina also sets Bianca off because she seems so idyllic. Bianca does not love any of her suitors nor do they love her they may think she is beautiful but it is not because they love her. Marriage was not about spending the rest of your life with the person you are in love with it was a case of a woman being sold of to the man with the most money.
Until Lucentio comes along Bianca likes neither of her suitors, Lucentio is the youngest and claims to be the richest. People at the time who were in love and wanted to choose the person they marry would have to elope. This is what Lucentio and Bianca did because ironically the two people who would get married at the least amount of control over the marriage. Compared with our perspectives on marriage today which incorporate, taking your time; finding someone to love and getting married, whereas in Elizabethan times people could be wedded with in a few days.
An example of this is the widow and Hortensio, after Hortensio discovers that Bianca doesn’t want him he quickly moves on to the widow and marries her almost instantly. Hortensio once again expects his wife to be obedient and well distinguished, he expected the traditional obedient wife, who would do as he wished. Especially as she had had a husband before, Hortensio expects that she would have been moulded into a perfect wife. However as we see after the husbands place a bet on their wives the widow does not respond.
Petrucio and Kate however are an extremely unusual acquaintance. Petrucio says from the beginning that he has come to Padua to “I come to wife, it wealthily.” This is another marriage, which originates from money. Baptista, Kate’s father knows that Kate has no chance of getting a husband the fact that Petrucio wants to marry a person with such an obscene personality, and characteristics is a complete shock. Petrucio does not have to put up an offer for Kate like Bianca’s suitors have. Kate and Petrucio first appear to be an impossible match as Petrucio expected so much but Kate as far as we expect will not give it. Petrucio boasts huge confidence in the way he tackles Kate’s behaviour. The beginning of the marriage is not one of happy romance and honeymoon, but instead due to Petrucio’s tactics a matter of training and torture. Petrucio also expects that his wife is obedient and well profound.
Throughout the play Petrucio uses tactics to attempt to “train” his wife into being the perfect Elizabethan woman. Petrucio uses embarrassment and humiliation to his advantage in attempt to disgrace Kate in front of everyone that she knows including family and friends who already think so lowly of her. It appears that Petrucio is the only person who really understands why Kate behaves the ways he does. Even if he doesn’t make it clear to us, he knows which is why he is the most successful person in finding a common ground with Kate. Petrucio’s past is not clear and his personality shows no depth or reasoning. This is why he is so similar to Kate as their true character is hidden.