Economics and marriage in Taming of the Shrew
Taming of the Shrew emphasizes the financial aspects of marriage specifically how economic considerations determine who marries who; it gives us a insight into how marriage worked during early modern era. The play tends to focus on romantic relationships from a social view, looking at the institutions of courtship and marriage rather than the actual love of couples. The text displays Katerina really having no say about Petruchio wanting to marry her; she fails to refute Petruchio’s blatant assumption that they are going to get engaged.
“Marry, so I mean sweet Katharine, in thy bed.
And therefore, settling all this chat aside,
Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented
That you shall be my wife; your dowry ‘greed on;
And you will, nill you, I will marry you
Now Kate, I am a husband for your turn,”
Act 2 shows us this in the beginning phases of Petruchio’s plan to marry Katherine, when he insists on seeing Katherine, knowing that she has a temper and has run through every man that has tried to “tame” her. Petruchio also seems to force marriage on her, this is a decision that will affect the rest of her life and she is quiet and when Baptista is present, the men ignore Kate, talking about her, not to her. In the same way, Petruchio treats her like she doesn’t exist when telling the others of their wedding plans.
“Why, that is nothing, for I tell you, father
I am as peremptory as she proud minded;
And where two raging fires meet together,
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury.”
Meanwhile, Lucentio is only allowed to marry Bianca after he promises that his father can provide a larger dowry than Hortensio, and after his father promises that the money will be paid.
The Taming of the Shrew involves multiple men pursuing women in various ways. In Petruchio’s case marriage seems to be more about economics rather than love.
“Signor Hortensio, ‘twixt such friends...