Fair Speech. Oct 6.
Nice close reading of Katherine’s final speech in Taming of the Shrew.
One the one hand, the speech seems to display the total reformation of the central figure from a the ideal wit to the ideal subject (or from “shrew to not-shrew” in Hodgdon’s phrase). Of her almost total submission, the American Civil War General Sherman remarked that Katherine’s final speech reminded him of a soldier who, “‘braced herself for her last grand fight and fought it with vigor. Being defeated…her submission was absolute, and she acknowledged her conqueror as frankly as she had defined him” (Hodgdon Arden Shrew 119).
On the other hand, while Katherine claims that “Such duty as the subject owes the prince,/Even such a woman oweth to her husband” (5.2.2663-64), you all provided a range of interpretations that helps readers get around what “Gayatri Spivak (following Frederick Jameson) calls the prison house of patriarchal language” (Hodgdon 120). “The prison house of patriarchal language” is a fancy way of describing the gossip, hearsay, second hand reportage in which Shrew traffics. As a class we argued that because Kate speaks in perfect, courtly rhetoric all the content seems otherworldly (i.e., ideal, pastoral, fantastic). Is absolute sovereignty a fairy tale? We also argued that the seriousness of the speech is undercut because Katherine speaks in the context of the bet or game her husband waged. Furthermore, is the seriousness of the speech undercut by the fact that it is part of a play-in-a-play; or that is offered as a sort of final, oral exam in which Kate proves what she has learned?
Some words that do the same sort of work that Kate & Bianca do:
Gist of comments I made on most of the posts:
When you move from the draft above to the longer, final version of the visual rendering, how can you use the work you have done here to ask and then answer a question about larger themes in the play? For example, how do the changing connotations of the word ‘scold’ help explain the some of the ironies or problems in Shrew?
Specifically: when Petruccio calls Katherine a scold he means her speech is abusive and/or reproving. And yet, the word shares a root with skald. In Ole Norse poetry the skald was a special sort of poet who converted the great deeds of warriors and kings into fancy, court poetry. How is Katherine like a poet? How does Shakespeare’s use of words like scold recall a different sort of past?
Cite at least one chunk of text from the play in your final visual rendering.