Sunday, April 8, 2012

For Three-Word Wednesday, Magpie 112 and ABC Wednesday


("M" is for "Marriage in Shakespeare's day")
The prompt this week got me to thinking about Kate.
You remember Kate, the shrew?
In Shakespeare’s play, “The Taming of the Shrew,” we are introduced to a young woman who was difficult – no, not difficult; impossible.
But if ever a female had a right to be, er, shrewish, it was a girl of that Elizabethan age.
In this play Will Shakespeare shines a light on the condition of women of his time. A girl of respectable family was raised to get married. There wasn’t much else for her. She usually had no education; she never got to go to school.
If she was bright, intelligent, witty, these would be handicaps she would be expected to try to overcome.
No wonder Kate wasn’t all that enthusiastic about marriage. It was often no treat. She would probably have agreed with Cher, who said: “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to spend their life in an institution?”
Shakespeare created a character like the girl in this week’s prompt: it’s Kate trying to break out of the egg – the traditions, conventions, of that era - that held her back.
And she knew that marriage in those days, even if she did finally get around to accepting it, wasn’t all that great. A married woman was owned by her husband. And not just her person; everything she had was his too.
In “The Merchant of Venice,” the beautiful Portia is a young woman of great wealth. She is, not to put too fine a point on it, loaded.
The day she marries, the piles of dough - what today we might call her financial portfolio - immediately becomes her husband’s and he will decide what to do with it.

To get back to Kate: she finally, inevitably, gets married. She locates a husband; Petruchio just picks her up and lugs her off. This, by the way, is usually played as comedy.
Once married, as I’m sure you know, she finally changes. What’s interesting is how drastically she changes.
In the last act, Kate has accepted the onerous restrictions of her marriage and assures us that she’s very happy. She's a picture of serenity; she has become a Stepford wife. She even gives advice to young brides.
“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper. Such duty as the subject owes the prince, even such a woman owes to her husband. I am ashamed that women are so simple. To offer war where they should kneel for peace. Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway, when they are bound to serve, love and obey.”
It’s too much; it’s unbelievable.
Many scholars feel – and I, no scholar, tend to agree – that Will Shakespeare wrote this draft of the play with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek. They would agree with modern productions of this play that have Kate delivering these lines in a kind of bitter, sardonic way, to make sure everyone in the audience will “get” what she really thinks of her situation.
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

33 comments:

Brian Miller said...

nice...i like the tie in with the shrew...i can def see it in the pic...i dont know, you get 3 squares in an institution...and a bed...smiles.

Kathe W. said...

I like this comparison!

zongrik said...

i love that play

birth death its all the same

Mama Zen said...

What a smart, original response!

Little Nell said...

Well that's a different response. That 'obey' bit always annoys me ...ever since the vicar who married us, used the wrong service and asked me to obey! What should I have done do you think?Husband-to-be was just praying I wouldn't explode with anger in true Kate fashion. I meekly said "I do", but I don't and we've been married 37 years :)

Wayne Pitchko said...

great response...thanks for sharing your words

Leslie: said...

@Brian - can thee not cook for thyself? *wink*

Marriage has certainly changed since Will's day. I still enjoy the intimacy and the bond of friendship along with the cuddles. And as I've "matured," I've learned to choose my battles. Maybe that's what Kate decided to do in the end.

Laurie Kolp said...

I love how you approach these challenges... and I really enjoyed this. I'm grateful my husband doesn't own me (nor does he try to).

Rinkly Rimes said...

As a feminist I really enjoyed this. I often feel really heartsick when I think how different my life would have been in an earlier age. I'd love to hear those final lines delivered with venom.

Berowne said...

Rinkly R: Yes, any production of the play "Shrew" in our time is usually done with an approach based on our modern attitudes, customs and values.

Helen said...

You never fail to entertain, educate. I'd not heard the Cher quote - very funny!

Berowne said...

Helen: "You never fail to entertain, educate."
Thanks; that makes it all worth while. :-)

Lyn said...

I'd say, definitely, tongue in cheek,the better to taste delicious irony!! Thanks for the reminder!

Kutamun said...

Sounds ironic, Seems nit much has changed, except on the surface, the patriarchy still holds sway , but there are signs as Bob said " the times they are- a- changin '".
Perhaps the time of the Father hen has passed, and the time of the eggs is just beginning ?

Sue said...

I've always hoped it was tongue in cheek...

I like where you took this prompt.

:)

Berowne said...

Kutamun: "Perhaps the time of the Father hen has passed."
Father hen. Great phrase. :-)

Berowne said...

Laurie Kolp: "I really enjoyed this."
Just as I really enjoyed your comment.

Claudia said...

nice..well played...i have seen that part of shakespeare's play and been wondering how this really would work out...and heck...sometimes i'm a bit shrewish as well...smiles

mrsnesbitt said...

I have so much in common - I too am an Elizabeth (middle name) after my grandmother! I too am intelligent, witty and did I mention modest? lol! M for modest - that's me!

Great post - thanks for the tribute!
Denise ABC Team.

photowannabe said...

Always a treat to come here.
You get my brain in gear and I say thanks.
I don't think I would have done well in those Elizabethan times. to be owned and not a partnership would definitely be a struggle.

Carrie Burtt said...

Brilliant as always Berowne!! :-)

Roger Owen Green said...

Marriage is getting better for women, I think/hope.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Hildred and Charles said...

Yes, I agree with you. Definitely tongue in cheek!!!

Trellissimo said...

Reminds me of a warring Cad and Ada...

chubskulit said...

What an interesting take and viewpoint on marriage.

Little MISSES
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

Sheilagh Lee said...

I agree Kate couldn't have thought that way unless she had a brain transplant.Great post as always.

Ellecee said...

Great post, I really enjoyed it. Thank goodness times have changed - at least a little :-)

Berowne said...

Thanks, Ellecee, for your encouraging comment.

Berowne said...

A fine lineup of comments from Claudia, Denise, photowannabe, Carrie B, Roger O G, Hil & Chuck, Trellissimo, chubskulit and Sheilagh L - my sincere thanks.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

Well said!

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Awesome!.. I grew with no good library around. And i know there are a lot of books that i missed. These reviews are additional knowledge. Love it..

JJRod'z

ds said...

I've always hoped Kate was being ironic... Thanks for this.

Belva Rae Staples said...

I like this and admire your talent for bringing many prompts together!
I wonder if life is really all that much better for women. Now that we're 'liberated' and can do it all, we find we must do it all. Maybe, we're exhausting ourselves.

 
Blog designed by Blogger Boutique using Christy Skagg's "A Little Bit of That" kit.