The Taming of the Shrew In Shakespeare’s comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew,” one of themain ways that the theme is shown is by mistaken identity. The maintheme of this play is that what a person is really like is moreimportant than how they appear to be. This is shown by Petruchio’srelationship with Katherine; the changing roles of Tranio, Lucentio,and Hortensio; and the true characters of Bianca and Katherine. Allthree of these situations help to enrich the theme.
The first predicament that supports the theme is Petruchio’srelationship with Katherine. When we first meet Petruchio, he is onlyafter the money of Katherine, and accepts her harshness as simply agoal he must overcome. He is mistaken for a person who is only aftermoney, not love at all. Yet when he meets Kate, he begins to fallfor her. While he still argues and attempts to train her, it is forhis own benefit. He wants her to be less harsh so she can fall inlove with him.
Petruchio ends up truly caring for and loving Kate,despite the front he puts up having his true identity revealed. As aresult of this Katherine, whom we thought would never love anyone, atthe end of the story is the only wife who comes when she is beckoned.
The other wives only make up excuses. This shows how Kate has amistaken identity becuase she appears rude and insolent. Thissituation is one of the ways Shakespeare uses mistaken identity todisplay theme.
Another part of the theme is that when a person changesoutfit’s and roles, their personalities and attitudes stary the same.
The first and most prominent role change is the one between Lucentioand Tranio. Lucentio, in order to marry Bianca, exchanges outfitswith his servant Tranio in order to become a tutor for Bianca.
Although Tranio appears to be a nobleman, he is really just a simpleservant. His identity did not change despite the fact that his outfitdid. In the same fashion, Lucentio becomes Cambio, the tutor. His trueself is as a nobleman, but due to his love of Bianca, he tries tochange himself. Just like Tranio, despite the change of outfit,Lucentio’s real personality is not altered. Hencefoth came Hortensio,the least successful prenteder. He too becomes a tutor for Bianca,but is rejected by her. Before the changing of clothes, Hortensio isin competition with Lucentio for Bianca, and still is despite thechange in clothing. What Shakespeare is trying to convey is thatalthough you can change your clothes, you can’t change the person whowears them.
The most effective way Shakespeare demonstrates this theme isthrough Bianca and Kate. On the outside, Kate appears harsh, crueland frightening to all of the characters. Even her father is scaredof her monsterous temper, begging anyone to marry her. Yet as herrelationship with Petruchio grows, her true identitiy emerges. Shebecomes much less of a shrew, her mistaken identity, and begins tobecome a benevolent person, her true identity. This overcomes herother self and shines through. Despite all of her outwardappearances, she is truly a good person in her heart. Yet Bianca’sscenario is different . She is perceived as a sweet and gentleperson, a false precept, devoting herself to her studies and neverwanting anything else out of life. Yet once she achieves her goal, tobe married, her true self appears. She becomes quarralsome andapathetic, not coming at the call of Lucentio or accusing him ofsimply hunting her, not at all caring for her. She becomes almostwhat her sister was. Furthermore, to find out what Kate and Biancaare really like is the conflict of the play. On one level, it isPetruchio’s conflict to tame Kate or live with a shrew the rest of hislife. To tame Kate is also to reveal her actual personality. WithLucentio, he is after Bianca, and to fall head over heels in love withher. To fall in love with someone can also be to find out about themand see who they really are in their heart. The main theme beingconveyed is displayed through these two sisters and their alter egos.
Mistaken identity is the main conflict of this play, yet italso serves to tell the reader or audience what the theme is. Throughappearance changes, character relationships, and inner personalities,the theme is displayed, the theme being that what someone’s realidentity is more imprtant than what they seem to be. This is provedby superb manipulation of characters and plot with examplesillustrating the theme masterfully and with great emphasis.
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