Matrimonial Relations in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew: The Machiavellian Husband/Ruler

Khaled Masoud Shuqair


This paper argues with the feminist scholars that Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is essentially a romanticized version of male's dominance over woman, which reveals a historical context where gender crisis was salient. However, it proposes that the play presents the idea of marriage in such a way that the relation of the wife--the potentially disorderly woman--to her husband becomes an epitome for the relation of subordinates to their ruler. In the little world of the family, with its conspicuous tension between love and power, the larger matters of political and social order could find ready symbolization. In this world, the powerful Pertruchio acts in a Machiavellian manner to subjugate the powerless Katherine. His brutality is justified as a necessary evil in order to achieve social order as a higher moral goal. Love is contingent on the establishment of male's power in such a matrimonial relation; the husband is feared first, and then loved. Similarly, according to Machiavellian standards a successful ruler should build his state on fear rather than love for, while love is precarious, fear is held by a dread of punishment. Thus the marriage of Petruchio and Katherine is praised and rewarded at the end, because such a matrimonial relationship exorcised the fear of disorder that dominated early modern England.


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English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)

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