Kate's Final Speech: An Act Of Theatricality And Role-play - Toccoa Falls College/ Shakespeare - Essay

3505 words - 15 pages

Cox 1
Nathan Cox
Dr. Williams
1 May 2018
Kate’s Final Speech: An Act of Theatricality and Role-Play
In discussing ​The Taming of the Shrew​, Katherine Minola’s final speech seems to be
obligatory, a pivotal question that elicits a response from generations of readers. As such, the
speech is widespread in its interpretations, and its explications are at variance, all of which
consider its full dramatic context. In it, literary critics evaluate the play’s plot, its themes, its
language, and its characters as a means to a thorough exegesis, one that clarifies meaning in a
passage that can be otherwise convoluted, at least in relation to the play’s entirety. There are two
leading interpretations at play. The first argues that Kate’s final speech is her ultimate
submission to Petruchio, an indication of her “taming.” The second contends that the speech is
an extension of the play’s role-playing dynamic, or Kate’s participation in Petruchio’s games
(Ramsey-Kurz 1). The reputation of each is not without reason, for there is evidence throughout;
however, in surveying all of it, some evidence is more convincing than the rest. Being that
Shakespeare’s authorial intent is more or less unknown, we should consider every facet and its
effect on the meaning of Kate’s final speech. With that being said, the most cogent of these
arguments is the second, which claims Kate’s speech is indicative of her newfound ability to
role-play, and, in so doing, she tells her husband what he wants to hear, not what she believes.
In order to substantiate this interpretation, we must first consider the importance of
theatricality, how the interplay of actor and character contributes to Kate’s final speech. For
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Kate’s role-playing to be justified in her speech of obedience, there must be consistency
throughout the play. Otherwise, the speech loses credibility, and thus the conclusion of the play
is incoherent, something Shakespeare is not. However, the play’s consistent interest in the
theatricality of everyday life suggests Shakespeare’s intent through Kate’s speech. Role-playing
is integral to Christopher Sly’s deception in The Induction, Bianca's social prowess, Petruchio’s
manipulative personality, and, arguably, Kate’s final speech. Furthermore, Shakespeare’s theatre
company is considerably interested in the relationship between the actors and their characters. A
look into all of these will aggrandize the influence of theatricality in ​The Shrew​ and, more
pointedly, Kate’s final speech.
The Induction introduces the theatricality of the play as it opens with a
play-within-the-play. We have Christopher Sly, a drunken beggar, and a lord, one who will
“practice on this drunken man” and convince him that he is a nobleman (Shrew.Induction.1.36).
In this, the role-playing becomes significant to the themes presented in The Induction and
throughout the play. The lord represents the power of wealth and class in the Elizabethan era
whereas Sly represents ...

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