Friday, December 1, 2006

RE: Taming of the Shrew - Shrew, Do Not Make Denial

I'd like to thank the Findlays for their thorough responses. I feel like the undeserving recipient of great riches. Clearly Kate's silence in the face of Petruchio's lies was something that directors struggled with and resolved in a variety of mostly unsatisfying ways.

Before we are done with the play, I would like to know what people think of the Kate character in comparison with other such characters in and outside of Shakespeare. Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing seems to me the closest parallel, but that is a tale of mutual "taming" (and more interesting for it, to my mind). Is it too teleological to see Kate as practice for Beatrice? Are we disallowed from looking forward to plays we haven't officially read together?

On an unrelated note, my first assumption would be that the name Ferando (the Petruchio character in the alternative Shrew play that Randall found) is just a mangling of the much more common Fernando. But such mangling often has a purpose, and it is notable that, if Ferando is "Man of Iron" Petruchio might be "Man of Rock" (or "Heart of Stone"? Or just "Rocky"? A new roll for Mr. Stallone?). Coincidence?

And if I may be allowed one more disconnected thought – the power of language to persuade us that things are other than what they are seems to me a central theme of the play from the induction through to the end. Though most of these persuasions seem far fetched, psychological experiments have shown repeatedly that most people can be persuaded to ignore the evidence of their own eyes in the face of group pressure. A similar kind of willing disbelief is of course necessary for a play to function. But the ease with which entire societies can come to believe things that are simply not true (that oil resources will last forever, or that we can dump a trillion odd tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without consequence) makes our comedy look tragic indeed. But maybe that's just the mood I'm in today.


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