Saturday, December 2, 2006

Taming of the Shrew - Auden Addendum

Blast-ended Shrew(t)s,

In his short (two pages) discussion of Taming of the Shrew, Auden argues that the play is a failure because no farce can succeed if it must contend with a serious issue. "In our time the war of the sexes has become much too serious an issue to be treated in a farcical manner. This has been true in England ever since the passage of the Married Woman's Property Act of 1882. Up to that point there was no question, basically, that man was boss" (64). So Auden puts Findlay fils in his place by pointing out that what was once farce is now failure, and not worth discussing. (And he moves abruptly on to King John just a couple of paragraphs later.)

Because Auden is giving a lecture (in 1946), fortunately transcribed by a student, he is prone to digression. And the rest of the paragraph, somewhat startlingly, finds him waxing wistful about American women:

"In England things are run for the benefit of men, and it is too bad if you are a girl. In America things are run for the benefit of women, and the men have an unfortunate time. … In England women are colorless. In America they are more interesting than the men. They are better educated, confident, and amusing to talk to. Perhaps, however, they suffer more in this country than they are willing to admit by holding such a dominating position, and one that is increasing. In fifty years most American men will be honorably employed as gigolos" (64).

Ha ha ha ha ha ha … ha … uh … ha.

Hey, fifty years! That's …uh …2006.

Ye gods, maybe we finally have an answer to the decline in American employment due to corporate outsourcing! Sign me up.


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