The Effectiveness of Shakespeare’s Linguistic Choices in Conveying the Power Struggle Between Katherine and Petruchio

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The Effectiveness of Shakespeare’s Linguistic Choices in Conveying the Power Struggle Between Katherine and Petruchio

This essay will study the text ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ by William Shakespeare. It is a play written in London in 1592 and published in 1623. The play is set during the Jacobean era (1420-1600). The purpose of the play is to entertain an audience. The secondary purpose may be to inform a modern audience about power and roles of men and women in the Jacobean era. During this period of time, a person’s power was shown by the language they used, so the more quick-witted and articulate a person was in conversation the more social power they held. Shakespeare uses various linguistic
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He thinks he is man enough to be the one to ‘tame the shrew’ but by saying this Katherine is telling him he is not. Both characters use face threatening acts to attempt to gain power of the exchange. Petruchio also uses connotation to damage Katherine's face. 'Pet. Alas, good Kate, I will not burden thee! For, knowing thee to be but young and light.' The adjective 'light' connotes sexual promiscuity again reminding her that he sees her as a woman he can easily woo contrasting with the strong women she sees herself as. The adjective ‘young’ connotes that she is naïve and therefore not able to match his wit, allowing Petruchio power over the exchange.

Petruchio uses a pun to make fun of Katherine. 'Pet. For dainties are all Kates.' The pun is on the word ‘cates.’ These are a form of delicate food. This connotes the idea that Kate is delicate and lady-like. This riles Katherine as, as well as using the name that she does not like he is seeing her as the opposite she sees herself and by seeing through her façade he knows how to gain power over her. The repetition of her name also serves to make fun of her. ‘Pet. You lie in faith, for you are call’d plain Kate, And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;’ By repeating her name in these noun phrases he is showing he doesn’t care that she does not like the name, and

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