Male Hierarchy in Shakespeare's Taming of The Shrew

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Male hierarchy is a dominant aspect of the Elizabethan era and today as it shows one person being above or below another human due to their gender. In certain situations, males control and force woman to obey them. In the play Taming of the Shrew written by William Shakespeare, Petruchio is determined to tame an independent woman, Katherine as she does not fit into an 'ideal' wife in that society. The theme of a male dominant hierarchy is demonstrated through Petruchio's power over Katherine due to her lack of rights in their relationship and era.

The play exhibits male hierarchy through Petruchio and Katherine's relationship. Petruchio forces Katherine to obey him within their relationship by making her realize that he is in control, it is necessary for her to comprehend that he has the authority in their relationship to make her miserable by not allowing her to sleep or eat. When he treats her like that and gives her consequences for not listening to him like no sleep and food he is treating her like an animal, if she behaves to his standards she will get a treat which her inalienable, he dehumanizes her and lowers her value as a person. In act 4 scene 5 Katherine and Petruchio were walking to Katherine's father's house when Petruchio tells her that the sun is the moon when it is not. Katherine then corrects him but knowing that Petruchio will continue to command her to agree with him, she states 'And be it moon, or sun, or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush candle, Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me' (4.5.15-17). Katherine says this to give into Petruchio's demands of obeying him, to fit into his 'ideal' woman and to please her husband, which is what she is expected to do. By this statement she is saying that she will agree with whatever he says even if she does not believe it, he is essentially forcing her to not listen to herself and make sure she does not have her own mind. With Katherine not able to think for herself it makes her dependent on Petruchio, giving him more power in society and be able to predominant women.

Another example of a male dominated hierarchy is marriage in their civilization, it was a transaction between males. The women were considered property of their father and husband, they had no say in the negotiation. Katherine throughout the play is opposed to getting married, however, her father approves and Katherine and Petruchio get married. After they are married Katherine becomes an Elizabethan era wife, '... Petruchio apparently taking his traditional place as master and Katherine apparently accepting the role of a dutiful wife'. The quote reveals that men were expected to be masters as it was there 'traditional place' and Katherine finally gives in and becomes a 'proper' wife. This quote also indicates that men have the ascendancy to change women and are superior in the play.

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Male Hierarchy in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“Male Hierarchy in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew.” WritingBros, 14 Dec. 2020,
Male Hierarchy in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
Male Hierarchy in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from:
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