The public, the private, and the Shaming of the Shrew Gary Schneider

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The public, the private, and the Shaming of the Shrew

Gary Schneider

42.2 (Spring 2002): p235. From Literature Resource Center.

Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 Rice University

Relatively late in the action of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (1592), Tranio tells the pedant of a fictional private quarrel that has been made public, and is, therefore, a potential threat to the pedant's safety in the city of Padua:

'Tis death for anyone in Mantua To come to Padua. Know you not the cause? Your ships are stayed at Venice, and the Duke, For private quarrel 'twixt your Duke and him, Hath published and proclaimed it openly. 'Tis marvel, but that you are but newly come, You might have heard it else proclaimed about. (1)

Tranio's "warning" marshals several pertinent implications of the interrelationship between the public and the private: there is a manifest danger when the private becomes public; private actions (the two dukes' personal quarrel) inform public life; and the dynamic interaction between ostensibly separate spheres creates a politicization of the private. In early modern England a theoretical distinction between the public and private spheres existed-one which imagined them as wholly distinct and self-contained; in practice, however, there was a dynamic relationship between the spheres--one which has potential repercussions for the citizenry, as the danger to the pedant suggests. One ignorant of the proclamation, that is, of the "publicizing" of the restrictions, might face serious consequences.

A few studies have investigated the meaning and function of the public and the private in Shrew, but these studies examine only tangentially the public and private dichotomy as it functions in the play, typically as a self-evident binary. (3) The interrelationship of the spheres is extremely complex, and the early modern perception of them exceedingly ambiguous. I begin this study, then, by examining the specific emphases, associations, and resonances of the private and the public. I continue by investigating the "publicizing" of Kate, and consider the relationship between marriage, social customs, public ritual, and shame. I observe the play's consequent movement to the private, and take up an investigation of the maneuvering of the principles of asceticism and civility. Finally, I mark the return to the public as a spatial reorientation that is energized by the performative, by the metatheatrical, and which serves as a consolidation of the civilizing process.

Publicizing has a similar role in controlling aberrant women. For a woman to be publicized means to be confronted with the social role appropriate to her gender and class--one which is informed by patriarchy and its soci al, economic, and political imperatives. The bulk of The Taming of the Shrew, in fact, bears on the publicizing of Kate. This publicizing effort is enacted by public ceremony and social ritual that, in the play, frequently revolve around marriage customs. In addition to weddings, other social customs also inform the publicizing of Kate, much in the same manner as public shaming rituals such as skimmington, bridling, and cucking threaten Kate as an aberrant, uncontrollable woman. (2) In essence, The Taming of the Shrew presents a temporal process of taming that is also spatially oriented: on one hand, the processes, actions, and manipulations that publicize Kate in Padua and that are designed to tame shrewishness are intertwined with producing public shame; on the other hand, as evidenced by the spatial movement of Petruccio and Kate to Petruccio's country house, privacy and privation also mediate shrew taming.


Jurgen Habermas states that, although there was a distinction between publicus and privatus, "an opposition between the public and private spheres on the ancient (or the modern) model did not exist." (4) There was an emerging, but by no means clear, distinction between public and private in the Renaissance. Habermas locates a nascent distinction in the movement from feudalism to a centralized monarchy, which culminated in a relatively well-defined dichotomy late in the seventeenth century. (5) Since the emergence of the modern state engendered the division of the public and the private, it is no surprise that the private was largely informed by political processes. The interrelationship between private and public spheres was embodied, for instance, in the commonplace that the household was a "little commonwealth." (6)

Whereas in practice a strict division between the spheres was not viable, the theoretical speculations of Renaissance thinkers frequently sustained a rigorous separation between private and public based on a very broad spatial demarcation: the walled, enclosed space (such as the individual household or the monastery) on the one hand, and the outside-the-enclosed-space on the other. (7) The strict, theoretical dichotomy through which early modern England negotiated the public and the private is exemplified by treatises such as Sir John Harington's The Prayse of Private Life (probably composed between 1603 and 1605). Such rather philosophical treatises tend to idealize the private life as utterly non-political. The Prayse of Private Life, for instance, sharply divides the public (politics, business, the city) from the private (religious contemplation, solitude, the country). (8) It is clear that when Harington writes of the private life, he means a life of solitude. The movement of Harington's thesis is toward an ethic of asceticism, expressed, for instance, in chapter 18: "For ["beholdinge the face of God"] is the ende of our desires and wishing... Instead of temporall fastinge, there is celestial feastinge. In supplie of povertie there is true riches. For rural silence there is heavenly musicke." (9) The private man "eateth moderately" whereas the public man consumes "all sortes of delicates to please the taste"; the private man lives in a hermitage, a "house ... made of claye, the walles cleane, and poorely cladd," while the public man lives surrounded with "Dogges, Men, Familiers and Flatterers." (10) The virtues of silence, temperance, and chastity should be rigorously engaged if one is to live the private life.

However, theoretical treatises such as the Prayse, those that rigidly demarcate public and private, often betray a slippage in conceiving the spheres. Harington amends, for instance, his construction of solitude to include friends in order to comprehend agape or charity: "And what can be more pleasinge to God then to healpe other Men." (11) Revising an earlier, stricter assertion, Harington backtracks: "I said the concourse of men, not accesse of frendes shoulde be shunned." (12) As Harington's revisions suggest, it is exceedingly difficult to separate the private from the social in practice. An even more startling elision of public and private occurs some sixty years later in another theoretical treatise. George Mackenzie, in A Moral Essay, Preferring Solitude to Publick Employment (1665), uses a distinctly social metaphor to describe a private space: The world is a Comedy, where every man acts that part which providence hath assigned him; and as it is esteemed more noble to look on then to act, so really, I know no securer box, from which to behold it, then a safe solitude, and it is easier to feel then to express the pleasure which may be taken in standing aloof, and in contemplating the reelings of the multitude, the excentric motions of great men." (13) Contemplation and solitude are located within the public realm (the theater) in Mackenzie's treatise. Mackenzie reserves for himself a privileged position as observer somehow existing outside of society while "passively" observing it.

The merging of the public and private in Mackenzie's and Harington's commentary is also evident in Shrew. Such an elision is part and parcel of the structure and function of the dominant ideology. In other words, the private is informed by the ascendant ideology even as that ideology separates itself from the private sphere in order to control it (yet without appearing to control it). The rules of civility, those which were brought to bear on the private life, clearly constitute instances of the politicization of the private. Hence, the ideological overlay of civility on the private life also informs the dynamic between public and private. Jacques Revel, for instance, maintains that the "sixteenth century was a time of intense effort to control social intercourse through rules of civility... Behavior was judged by the group. The rules of civility were in one sense a technique for limiting or even negating private life." (14) Considering the association between women and the private sphere (as "household Kates ," for instance) these prescriptions produced terrific pressures for women to behave in accordance with specified social norms. Thus, the interrelationship of public and private, and the subsequent pressure toward civility that was generated around (aberrant) women, inform The Taming of the Shrew to a great extent. In Shrew what appears to be private is, in fact, frequently a function of the public. In Renaissance England, private problems arose and were dealt with in a public manner. Lynda Boose, Karen Newman, David Underdown, and others have described the public punishment of private behavior, those public shaming rituals such as cucking, carting, and the skimmington. Kate's taming is likewise engineered within the public and private spheres; but, whereas Kate is socialized within the dynamic between public and private, Bianca is not "indoctrinated" in the same manner as Kate-- hence, she remains shrewish at the play's end.

Some of the critical literature on Shrew has examined the public/private dichotomy as relatively well-defined and readymade. For instance, Laurie E. Maguire asserts that "Petruchio and Katherine have found a mode of conjugal behaviour for public display and a mode of behaviour for private rapport"; Kate "conforms to a social norm for the sake of appearance, while remaining free to be her own person in private." (15) But Maguire reads outside the bounds of the play, imagining an extratextual existence for Kate and Petruccio in order to structure her rigid public/private dichotomy. Indeed, since private behavior is defined and engineered by social criteria, it is unlikely that Kate would be able to claim the type of independence Maguire asserts. As Roger Chartier maintains, the very distinction between private and public behavior was a function of the internalization of "social norms"; "the 'private' is a product of the modern state." (16) Such a "private" mutuality, in the sense that Maguire has it, is not pos sible between Petruccio and Kate. (17) Likewise, Coppelia Kahn seems to argue for a rigid distinction between Kate's private and public personae: that Kate engages in "public display," yet that "her spirit remains mischievously free." (18) Like Maguire, Kahn is forced to read beyond the text proper to maintain her argument; moreover, Kahn neglects to consider that the taming of Kate is comprised of both public shaming and private mortification.

Finally, it should be reiterated that the relationship between household and state was a dynamic one. As Georges Duby maintains, "it must be acknowledged that the opposition between private life and public life is a matter not so much of place as of power. (19) Duby's observation is accurate in describing the interaction between public and private spheres as one mediated principally by power. However, Duby's formulation does not recognize the early modern perceptions of public and private, those theoretical distinctions which differentiated the spheres--for, clearly, the public and private were imaginatively bifurcated and physically spatialized in the early modern period, as Harrington's treatise suggests. Duby's formula does not allow one a critical paradigm by which to examine the early modern conceptualizations of the spheres. Nevertheless, it is extremely useful to keep Duby's statement in mind since power relations largely inform The Taming of the Shrew.


Marriage in early modern England comprised two extreme situations: those based on the purely material and those on the purely romantic. Most marriages, however, appeared to exist somewhere on the continuum between these polarities. Ralph A. Houlbrooke asserts that a marriage "had to be built on material foundations"; these arrangements were sometimes engineered by the couple themselves, but often by parents or guardians solely for economic and financial reasons (Baptista's "sale" of Bianca and Kate, of course, demonstrates such an arrangement). (20) Alan Macfarlane suggests that children had substantial freedom to choose a mate based on the ideology of romantic love rather than on purely economic considerations. (21) Apparently, any marriage contracted between individuals aged seven or older was legal even if there was no parental consent. (22) Certainly, this situation would constitute another extraordinary arrangement. Such extremes were typically mediated by the ideology of a child's duty to his or her par ents, one in which moral and religious imperatives were propounded. (23) It is crucial to remember, therefore, that marriage was a comprehensive social phenomenon which, as David Cressy puts it, "involved a series of ritual actions with strong legal, cultural, and religious connotations that take us to the heart of Tudor and Stuart society." (24)

I would like to apply these "legal, cultural, and religious connotations" to a consideration of the public and private in the play since marriage "was a social process with both public and private dimensions," as Cressy observes. (25) In Shrew itself, there is an emphasis on public ceremony and social ritual, particularly on those surrounding marriage customs. Marriage is the primary public ritual, the social "trope" in Shrew, which unites the public and private realms. Unlike Margaret Loftus Ranald, who asserts that matrimonial practices are merely subsidiary to Shrew, I argue that they are integral and form a sociopolitical structure within which both shaming and taming are practiced. (26) Marriage in Shrew comprises both the features of the public (ceremony, ritual) and the assumption of a private component (consummation). Hence, Lawrence Stone's outline of the five stages of the marriage process for propertied people includes both public and private elements: "The first [step] was a written legal contract between the parents concerning the financial arrangements. The second was the spousals... the formal exchange... of oral promises. The third step was the public proclamation of banns in church, three times, the purpose of which was to allow claims of pre-contract to be heard (by the seventeenth century nearly all the well-to-do evaded this step by obtaining a license). The fourth step was the wedding in church, in which mutual consent was publicly verified... The fifth and final step was the sexual consummation." (27) Publicizing occurs at almost every step. The final step is even publicized by the public kiss that symbolizes consummation. I do not mean to imply that marriage and its concomitant ceremonies were always or inherently manifestations of shaming rituals. In Shrew, however, the representation of marriage rituals suggests that they may be associated with shaming rituals.

I would like to concentrate first on the phenomenon known as the proclamation of the banns. In Shrew the proclamation of the banns is alluded to twice. (28) The first mention occurs, significantly, in Petruccio's soliloquy when he announces to the audience his proposed method of taming:

If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks As though she bid me stay by her a week. If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day When I shall ask the banns, and when be married. (II.i.175-8)

In this soliloquy lie the roots of the shaming/taming process, the publicizing process as contained in the public announcement of marriage. By wide report, Kate is a well-known shrew. As Hortensio asserts, Kate is "Renowned in Padua for her scolding tongue" (I.ii.96). The proclamation of the banns, therefore, is negligible as a practical measure; there is certainly no possibility of a pre-existing contract. The banns are, rather, a reference to the public context of shaming that Petruccio will utilize in taming Kate. Likewise, by proclaiming the banns a sense of (archaic) propriety and decorum is maintained.

Clearly, Kate perceives her wedding--that is, her publicization within her new social role--in terms of shaming. When it appears that Petruccio is not going to show up at the church, Kate laments her future social shame:

He'll woo a thousand, 'point the day of marriage. Make friends, invite them, and proclaim the banns, Yet never means to wed where he hath wooed. Now must the world point at poor Katherine And say, "Lo, there is mad Petruccio's wife, If it would please him come and marry her." (III.ii.15-20)

The reference to the banns here suggests they may be employed as a shaming tool in that they act to publicize Kate's humiliation; the proclamation is equated with public punishment since cucking and carting employ the same brand of public shaming. Kate, indeed, admits that this is "No shame but mine" (III.ii.8). As Stone notes, the proclamation of the banns was not a necessary step in the marriage process; yet in terms of publicizing Kate, it is clearly a functional taming tool.

The proclamation of the banns, as a practical custom, was a somewhat antiquated procedure. The play also alludes to other archaic public customs, which, in turn, are allied with the shaming process. The impending marriage of Bianca, for instance, threatens Kate with the possibility that she "must dance barefoot on her [Bianca's] wedding day" (II.i.33). This statement refers to the custom of elder, spinster sisters performing a humiliating ritual at their younger siblings' wedding feasts. (29) Furthermore, Boose has pointed out that in the final scene there is a representation of an antiquated marriage ritual in which the bride is expected to prostrate herself and place her hand under her husband's foot. (30) According to Boose, in Shrew, this ceremony is enacted after the final lines of Kate's final speech:

And place your hands below your husband's foot, In token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready, may it do him ease. (V.ii.181-3)

Hence, components of various marriage rituals themselves, those which Shakespeare incorporates into the play, serve to publicize Kate.

William Bradshaw, in A Marriage Feast (1620), specifically links public celebration and public punishment: "a marriage is accounted no marriage if it be not solemnized with beastly and profane songs, sonnets, jigs... [so that it becomes] as ignominious and reproachful as if it were the day of one's public penance or execution." (31) Although Bradshaw is expressing a Puritan's distaste for festive celebration, he is also outlining the publicity associated with each set of social practices. Furthermore, Daniel Fabre notes that "in many segments of society the most common way of publicizing and punishing infractions of custom was part and parcel of the ritual of social transition itself... The rite of passage bestowed a new role and at the same time reflected a judgment of conformity, the obligatory counterpart of its integrative function." (32) Shrew also identifies public marriage with public punishment. The play is concerned with the public mode of punishment of shrews as a method of re-integration, and, in K ate's case, to internalize behavior proper to a woman of the gentry.

Additional methods of public humiliation and shame mentioned in the play include carting, also known as "'riding' a whore"--another form of public punishment in which a woman suspected of prostitution is carted through the streets and mocked. (33) The reference to carting is directed toward Kate in the court/cart pun in I.i. Baptista says: "Leave shall you have to court her at your pleasure." Gremio replies: "To cart her rather" (I.i.54, 55). Helge Kokeritz recognizes this pun and the sound similarity between "cart" and "court"; it is likely that these were homonymic since Kokeritz maintains that "harm" rhymed with "corn." (34) Hence there is a resonant aural echo of "carting" every time "courting" is mentioned. The echo is sustained in the next scene; when Hortensio plots to get Bianca alone, he desires to "unsuspected court her by herself' (I.ii. 13l). (35) The same aural pun is also activated when Hortensio and Tranio observe Bianca and Lucentio (as Cambio) shamelessly courting in public, when Hortensio ex claims, "See how they kiss and court" (lV.ii.27). Here a public shaming process is reliant on the verbal echo and audience recognition of the associations of that echo. (36) Unlike the shaming of Kate, the shaming of Bianca is not done to her, but rather "toward" her with the aid of the audience.

Public shame was, of course, a powerful social instrument for controlling women. In order to comprehend fully how shame is functioning in Shrew, it is necessary to distinguish between the two senses of shame which the English language comprises in a single word. Kurt Riezler suggests a distinction evident in the French: "Pudeur is shame felt before, and warning against, an action; honte is felt after an action." (37) The shame Kate is made to endure--and that other aberrant women undergo in cucking, bridling, and carting--is honte; it is instilled by publicizing so that "shame will burn in memory," as Riezler puts it. (38) Pudeur is proactive and inhibits one from committing ungenteel, inappropriate, or uncivilized acts in the future. Kate is, therefore, indoctrinated to feel pudeur after she experiences honte. That Kate has internalized pudeur is evident in the shame she feels at the idea of kissing Petruccio in public (V.i.124-31). (39) Bianca, on the other hand, feigns pudeur at the beginning of the play t hrough a meek, silent, obsequious demeanor; since she turns out to be a shrew, Bianca needs to be shamed with honte (as she might have been in IV.ii after kissing Lucentio in public) in order to feel pudeur truly. Both terms, it should be emphasized, are highly dependent on social structure. (40)

The social theories of Norbert Elias provide a useful tool in understanding the relationship between shame, power, and behavior in the period. Shame "is fear of social degradation or, more generally, of other people's gestures of superiority." (41) Shame is a social construct whereby unfamiliar constraints are transformed into naturalized self-restraints; the shaming process, therefore, advances the civilizing process. (42) In order to bring "a wild Kate to a Kate / Conformable as other household Kates" (II.i.269-70), it is necessary for a sense of shame to be internalized through "social degradation"; "a consolidation of the automatic inner anxieties" by "gestures of superiority" and "the compulsions that the individual now exerts on" oneself are primary in behaving civilly. (43) After Kate and Petruccio are married, then, the question becomes this: what actions produce those compulsions which the individual exerts on herself? In short, how does the movement to the private sphere, that is, to Petruccio's cou ntry house--to which Kate is "banned" by Petruccio--in turn continue the civilizing process? Furthermore, how does this movement relate to Revel's formula that "The rules of civility were in one sense a technique for limiting or even negating private life"? At the country house Kate is deprived of food, sleep, sex, and ostentatious clothing; ironically, the privation to which Kate is exposed aids in civilizing her: "mortification" in both its senses is ultimately inflicted on Kate.


In the early modern period, the private sphere was frequently associated with secrecy and covertness; a personal desire for privacy often produced suspicion and distrust. The potential subversiveness of the private realm obviously had political reverberations. Even as the private sphere evolved under the aegis of a centralized state, the private was perceived as threatening to this state. As Habermas expresses it, "interiorized human closeness ... challenged the established authority of the monarch." (44) Certainly the fear of men and women in private was one of the reasons for the dissolution of the monasteries, and anxiety about people in secret places remained much a part of what constituted "Popery" in Thdor and Stuart England. In 1529, Simon Fish exhorts Henry VIII to remove monks from their monasteries and "Tie these holy idle thieves to the carts to be whipped naked about every market town," thus publicly exposing them. (45) In a 1635 sermon Thomas Turner, likewise, mocks the "Monks and Friars" who "[s equester] themselves from all Company, and (as it were) [bury] themselves alive in their cloister"; unlike "These speculative men ... the Practical man hath more opportunities of doing good." (46) Appraisals such as these span the early modern period, sense danger in the private sphere, and require some sort of public exposure of those secret evils; the term "private" in these commentaries appears synonymous with "social and political threat." (47)

But was the public sphere really so threatened by the private? Here we must recall the distinction between theoretical and practical assessments of the spheres. Although Harington, Fish, and Turner may not admit it, there was a complex interaction between the public and the private spheres. Henry Chadwick, for example, makes explicit the public reliance on the private sphere, fundamentally in terms of material benefits: "the prudence and strong work-ethic of monks brought them a commercial success to which they were by prime intention indifferent, and so provoked the envy of worldly laymen whose main goal was making money but who were less canny and less industrious." (48) "The root question," Chadwick continues, "concerns the validity of the ascetic ideal, and whether its pursuit is inherently superior to an active Christian life in a vocation lived out in the secular world." (49) The most consequential public benefit of the private sphere, of the contemplative life, as suggested by Chadwick, is that many of the characteristics associated with the private life--ascetic principles such as fasting, chastity, verbal moderation, simplicity in dress--had social value.

Indeed, the desire to appropriate the ideals of private life for public use demonstrates the social functionalism of these ideals. For instance, as William Watts, the author of Mortification Apostolical (1637) suggests, bodily abstinence may help to avert the plague: "Gods anger is most strong poison: 'tis that which makes the plague to be infectious. [There is] [nlo such Antidote or Preservative against it as Mortification." (50) Henry Holland, in The Christian Exercise of Fasting (1596), similarly catalogs some of the socio-economic benefits that accrue from fasting: "abstinence from flesh for some days in the week [should be undertaken] ... for breeding and increase of cattle, and that the trade of fishing and fish markets might be continued in our land"; Holland also notes that fasting has always been employed "in times of common calamities, as wars, famine, pestilence, &c. and also when any weighty matter touching the estate of the Church or the common wealth was begun or intended." (51) C. J. Kitching maintains that, especially during times of plague, "Many Elizabethan bishops were devoted to the practice of fasting (which, of course, for more secular reasons was developed and extended by the State)." (52)

For early modern writers, the ascetic virtues were deeply intertwined. William Hergest, beginning his The Right Rule of Christian Chastity (1580), names six necessarily connected virtues:

1. Virginity or Maidenhood.

2. Chastity.

3. Shamefastness.

4. Temperance or moderation.

5. Honest & diligent labor.

6. Modesty in apparel. (53)

These virtues are what people must inculcate. In the case of women (as implied in Hergest's book) these behaviors--temperance, chastity, moderation in clothing and speech-are particularly significant for indoctrination in order to form an appropriate, civilized, public woman, and are indeed the ascetic values forced on Kate at Petruccio's country house. Peter Stallybrass states that "The surveillance of women concentrated upon three specific areas: the mouth, chastity, the threshold of the house." (54) All three of these areas of potential transgression are interrelated: "Silence, the closed mouth, is made a sign of chastity. And silence and chastity are, in turn, homologous to women's enclosure within the house." (55) Normative woman, therefore, becomes reduced to the private sphere. Yet there is a paradox in that when women transgress bounds associated with the private (adultery, husband scolding, or shrewishness), they are punished by being exposed to public humiliation; they are not shoved more deeply int o the private, but carted, cucked, bridled or, in the case of Kate, publicly married. (56)

Of Stallybrass's three areas, it is the mouth that is perceived as most troublesome in Shrew. Kate, however, is implicated in all three either directly or indirectly: the verbal is obvious; implied sexual wantonness is evoked by the carting allusion (I.i.55) and by associating Kate with the devil and hell in the same scene; (57) Petruccio's desire for a private woman is evidenced in his desire for a "household" Kate. Petruccio will "mew [Kate] up" at his country house, and "make her bear the penance of her tongue" (I.i.87, 89). That is, taming is accomplished in Petruccio's house not by acts that produce public shame, but by acts of severe asceticism--by private privation. The stringent application of the ideals of asceticism helps to civilize Kate. Publicizing and shame, and now the privation of Kate, test the validity of Baptista's judgment that "such an injury [as Kate's shame] would vex a very saint" (III.ii.28).

The "cloistering" of Kate encloses her within walls, limits her behavior, restricts her diet, and safeguards her chastity. (58) In another soliloquy, Petruccio informs the audience of his intention to kill Kate with kindness by brutally forcing this brand of mortification on her:

Thus have I politicly begun my reign ............................................... She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat. Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not. As with meat, some undeserved fault I'll find about the making of the bed, And here I'll fling the pillow, there the bolster, This way the coverlet, another way the sheets. (IV.i. 169-83)

The ethic of asceticism, which includes chastity, vigilance, silence, and temperance (fasting and, in IV.iii, moderation in dress) in Petruccio's catalog, is engineered by him. Although there is undoubtedly much anti-Catholic satire in this portion of the play, there is also the inference that these are extremely useful civilizing techniques. Indeed, William Wilkinson asserts that a general change of behavior must accompany a fast: since "abstinence is a removing of ordinary pleasures and commodities ... it is meet that there should be a certain conformity and suitableness of our whole behavior all the time of the fast." (59) Of the four ascetic principles invoked by Petruccio, chastity is merely implied by the narrative retelling of the throwing of the covers and perhaps by the "sermon of continency" (IV.i. 164) rather than explicitly demonstrated in the action. Anthony Horneck, in a late-seventeenth-century treatise on asceticism, however, associates abstaining from food with abstaining from sex: "Fasting i n these cases, weakning the Body, weakens such Lusts and Affections too, which have too great dependance upon the Body." (60) Vigilance (watching) will be enforced in that Petruccio ascertains that "Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not" (IV.i.179); Horneck observes that vigilance is another ascetic virtue: "Abstinence from sleep and keeping our selves awake [is done] for Devotion sake." (61) The principle of moderate speech is demonstrated by Petruccio's sharp-tempered and insulting abuse of others; ostentation in dress is denounced explicitly in the scene with the tailor and haberdasher (IV.iii); and the principle of fasting is exampled by Petruccio's disposition of foodstuffs, particularly meat. These last three--silence, moderation in dress, and fasting--are explicitly demonstrated in the play.

The principle of fasting, of renouncing certain foodstuffs, is examined in Harington's Prayse. He associates "Cates" ("delicates") broadly with the "outside" world. When describing the table of the "busied" public man Harington writes of food, "provided and fetched from Sea and Lande, from Mountaines Playnes and Rivers. Which cates boyled, baked, rosted, fryed and changed in their nature, doe raise a marvelous savor." (62) In the private life one should only eat what is produced in the household. (63) An Elizabethan audience would have keyed into the secondary meaning of "Kate" as an expensive luxury item (of food); Harington's use of the term "cate" thus associates Kate with a consumer of rich goods from outside the household. Thus the retributive justice in being denied any such foodstuffs (or foodstuffs period) would have acted as an appropriate irony.

Moreover, the employment of meat as foodstuff is most instructive to Petruccio's maneuvering of asceticism. Elias includes a section entitled "On the Eating of Meat" in The Civilizing Process. Elias notes that in medieval Europe, even though meat was widely available, monks abstained because of self-denial while the aristocracy consumed huge quantities of meat. (64) Besides the religious/secular distinction, there were class proprieties to meat consumption which are also activated in Shrew. Since many of these medieval forms were preserved longer in England than on the Continent, (65) the two "meat scenes" (IV.i and IV.iii) invoke a monasterial, ascetic principle of consumption. In IV.i, Petruccio demands supper, singing of "the friar of orders gray" (IV.i. 126), turns down the meat saying "'twas burnt and dried away ... [I]it engenders choler, planteth anger, / And better 'twere that both of us did fast" (IV.i. 151-4), and then lectures Kate with "a sermon of continency" (IV.i. 164). Furthermore, in IV.iii t here is a systematic reduction of meat offered to Kate until Grumio feeds her only "with the very name of meat" (IV.iii.32). What I believe is happening in these two scenes is that the potential of secular, aristocratic plenty is presented, then rejected as an ethic in favor of one of renunciation. Meat, as a renounced foodstuff, is, of course, associated particularly with the fasting of Lent and with the ascetic virtues of monks and nuns, as Elias suggests. Thus, Kate is not only denied "cates," but she is also made to renounce even the humble, peasant foodstuffs of tripe, and beef and mustard. Petruccio manipulates consumption; he tames her by forcing her to renounce the cates she is accustomed to in the process of mortifying her.

Even though Petruccio's method of killing Kate with kindness is maneuvered through enforcing the ethic of asceticism, the public realm is clearly never far from the household, and the interrelationship between the realms mediates precisely how Petruccio limits Kate's speech and moderates her dress. As I have been suggesting, the public informs the private to such a degree that public "outings" such as charivaris and skimmingtons are the touchstones of private behavior. The tailor is emblematic of such publicizing of the private. Proverbially, the tailor is effeminate and the husband of a shrewish wife. In Shrew, the tailor appears in Petruccio's house to serve as an unwitting foil in Petruccio's taming process. In fact, it may be argued that Petruccio takes the role of skimmington wife when he insults the tailor, verbal excess that culminates in notable invective:

O monstrous arrogance! Thou liest, thou thread, thou thimble, Thou yard, three-quarters, half-yard, quarter, nail, Thou flea, thou nit, thou winter-cricket, thou. Braved in mine own house with a skein of thread! Away, thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant, Or I shall so bemete thee with thy yard As thou shalt think on prating whilst thou liv'st. (IV.iii.106-12)

Petruccio berates the tailor with several references to belittlement, including a systematic mockery of his penis (hence his manhood). Shakespeare's use of a well-known symbol of cuckoldry not only suggests the drama of the charivari and skimmington, but also yokes the cultural connotations of the tailor to his own private taming of Kate. (66) Petruccio's subsequent refusal to allow Kate the ostentatious clothing is meant to moderate her tastes in dress. As Wilkinson puts it, "A third kind of abstinence is in the apparel ... [Avoid] all such costliness and curiosity whereby tricking and trimming up ... the flesh may take occasion of being proud." (67) Petruccio's diatribe, of course, is also meant to demonstrate to Kate her verbal excess. (68) Thus, by exemplum, Petruccio engineers the ethic of silence, taming Kate's "unruly member," as Boose expresses it. (69)

After the tailor departs, Petruccio signals a movement back to the public with a "sermon"--one which foreshadows Kate's own in V.ii and which presupposes the observance of the principles of asceticism. He commands,

Well, come, my Kate. We will unto your father's Even in these honest, mean habiliments. Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor, For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich, And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds, So honour peereth in the meanest habit. (IV.iii. 163-8)

The valuelessness of luxurious outer wear is now foregrounded; austerity in dress and demeanor is emphasized. In addition to preaching spiritual or mental virtue over worldly, bodily excesses, the final phrase is an allusion to Kate's new habit--in the sense of both religious costume and disposition--as she enacts, as Petruccio manipulates them, the virtues of the private life. These ascetic virtues are, indeed, a means of taming the body as a whole; as Watts asserts, it is necessary to "tame your body and to beat it under; it takes the law of you presently; it pleads custom, the Charter of its Corporation, and Reason of State with you. As, Take heed of these same tamings and these same Mortifyings." (70) Imaged by Watts in legal, economic, and political tropes, such comprehensive mortification equates taming processes with civilizing processes. Kate is now ready to return to Padua in order to be fully republicized through her final speech.

At this point I can re-approach Revel's formula, that "The rules of civility were in one sense a technique for limiting or even negating private life." Although Revel's perception that ideological processes permeate the private life is accurate, in Shrew, the civilizing process does not so much negate or limit the private as the operations and rationale associated with the private life are, rather, appropriated by the public sphere and the ideology constructing that sphere. In the play, the taming process, the shaming process, and the training process all buttress the civilizing process.


Once Kate returns to Padua in order to celebrate Bianca's marriage, the drama of public exposure, the subsequent "cloistering," and the return to society is completed. As Camille Wells Slights notes, Kate's "domestication is complete only when it is made public." (71) This spatialization also places Kate's "transgression" in a social context. The use of shame is precisely to expose her; after the taming process is complete, the movement aids her recomposition as a genteel, civilized woman, one firmly slotted into the hierarchical order. The public and private, therefore, function dynamically under the aegis of the dominant ideology, and this ideology manipulates Kate by invoking the civilizing process, the rules of which determine how one must act. Perhaps the best context in which to interpret Kate's final speech, therefore, is within the context of the civilizing process.

For all intents and purposes, Kate's function as a character has not increased the dramatic tension or furthered the plot of the play, arguably, since IV.iii. Therefore, by V.ii Kate is less a dramatic character than she is a sort of metatheatrical construct, a public announcement, or even a brand of "advertisement" meant to speak for the civilizing process she has just undergone. (72) Her final speech is exceedingly formal, as if rehearsed; it is extremely rhetorical and didactic; it verges on the ceremonial; it is full of politicisms; it is cohesive and systematic; and Kate's punning verbal excess is neutralized and transformed into a rather dry, expansive patriarchalized rhetoric. The speech seems to serve official ends; Margaret Lael Mikesell asserts that "Kate becomes a kind of mouthpiece for tract ideology." (73) Might Kate here be designated as "Kate" since her speech (his speech, since the player is a boy?) signals this sort of metatheatrical moment? (74) During the final speech, "Kate" is less a char acter within the play than a spokesperson of a very patriarchal rhetoric. In whatever manner the utterance is cast--as penance, as sermon, as consolidation of hierarchy, as statement of submission--"Kate's" speech is a public spectacle that concludes a process of temporal transformation, and that emphasizes the consolidation of social roles and the stabilization of rules of behavior: in short, the speech buttresses the civilizing process by acting as an exemplum to Bianca, to the Widow, and to the (female) playgoers. (75) As I have suggested, the "shaming" of Bianca by way of the cart/court pun was done "toward" her through the recognition and acknowledgement of the audience. By this logic, the theater becomes transformed into a site of social control that, in The Taming of the Shrew, utilizes "Kate" as its most compelling mediator.

Indeed, throughout the play, audience "participation" is encouraged by such devices as Petruccio's soliloquies and the "shaming" of Bianca. Habermas points out that "In seventeenth-century France le public meant the lecteurs, spectateurs, and auditeurs as the addressees and consumers, and the critics of art and literature." (76) The perception that the public constitutes the auditors and spectators of theatrical performances in fact means that the publicizing process is inherently linked with audience participation. The movement of the publicizing process in The Taming of the Shrew, thus, is not only meant to re-align Kate with the proper modes of behavior, but also meant to consolidate the civilizing process within the public sphere.


I would like to thank Arthur F. Marotti for his criticisms and advice. I am also grateful to Mark Aune, Jose Garcez Ghirardi, Scott Nokes, and the anonymous reader at SEL for evaluating earlier drafts of this paper and for their helpful suggestions.

(1.) William Shakespeare. The Taming of the Shrew, in The Norton Shakespeare. ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), pp. 133-201, 182, IV.ii.82-8. All subsequent citations of Shakespeare's plays will be from this edition and will appear parenthetically within the text.

(2.) See D. E. Underdown, "The Taming of the Scold: The Enforcement of Patriarchal Authority in Early Modern England," in Order and Disorder in Early Modern England, ed. Anthony Fletcher and John Stevenson (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1985), pp. 116-36. For a social examination of cucking and carting through investigation of local court records, see Karen Newman's chapter. "Renaissance Family Politics and Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew," in Fashioning Femininity and English Renaissance Drama (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 33-50. For a detailed look at the skimmington, see Lynda E. Boose's treatment of bridling in "Scolding Brides and Bridling Scolds: Taming the Woman's Unruly Member," SQ 42, 2 (Summer 1991): 179-213.

(3.) The only study to investigate the public/private dichotomy at any length in Shrew is Laurie E. Maguire's "'Household Kates': Chez Petruchio, Percy, and Plantagenet" in Gloriana's Face: Women, Public and Private, in the English Renaissance, ed. S. P. Cerasano and Marion Wynne-Davies (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 129-65. Among the studies that touch on the public and private in Shrew, in addition to those mentioned above, are: Coppelia Kahn, "The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare's Mirror of Marriage." MLS 5, 1 (1975): 88-102; Ann Jennalie Cook, "Wooing and Wedding: Shakespeare's Dramatic Distortion of the Customs of His Time," Proceedings of the Comparative Literature Symposium 12 (1981): 83-100; and Linda Bamber, Comic Women, Tragic Men: A Study of Gender and Genre in Shakespeare (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1982), p. 34. Frances E. Dolan gives a brief overview of the literature specific to the public and the private in the play (The Taming of the Shrew: Texts and Contexts [New York: B edford Books of St. Martin's, 1996], pp. 24-6)

(4.) Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1989), p. 5.

(5.) Habermas, p. 11. Philippe Aries, likewise, maintains that "The king's court assumed responsibility for certain governmental functions that had previously been decentralized, such as maintaining law and order, courts of law, the army, and so on" (introduction, in A History of Private Life, Vol. 3: Passions of the Renaissance, ed. Roger Chartier, trans. Arthur Goldhammer [Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 1989], pp. 1-11, 9).

(6.) Quoted in S. D. Amussen, "Gender, Family and the Social Order, 1560-1725," in Order and Disorder in Early Modern England, pp. 196-217, 200.

(7.) See Georges Duby. introduction, in A History of Private Life, Vol. 2: Revelations of the Medieval World, ed. Duby, trans. Goldhammer (Cambridge MA: Belknap Press, 1989), pp. 3-31, 6-7. Lena Cowen Orlin plays with the binary but ultimately designates the private space as the household (Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England [Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994]).

(8.) Sir John Harington, The Letters and Epigrams of Sir John Harington together with The Prayse of Private Life, ed. Norman Egbert McClure (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1930). The treatise is, it should be noted, largely a translation of Petrarch's De Vita Solitaria (introduction, p. 45; Orlin, p. 4). But Harington's revivification of Petrarch and his re-emphasis of Petrarch's boundaries are what should be noted and evaluated.

(9.) Harington, p. 343.

(10.) Harington, pp. 331, 330. The Latin tags that conclude most of the chapters--"Fastidientis stomachi est, multa degustare" (p. 334), and "Parvo contentus non eget mendicitate" (p. 341)--also suggest an ethic of asceticism.

(11.) Harington, p. 337.

(12.) Harington, p. 347.

(13.) George Mackenzie, A Moral Essay, Preferring Solitude to Publick Employment, in Public and Private Life in the Seventeenth Century: The Mackenzie-Evelyn Debate, ed. Brian Vickers (Delmar NY: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1986), pp. 1-120, 89-90.

(14.) Jacques Revel, "The Uses of Civility," in A History of Private Life, 3:167-205, 167. Revel cites Erasmus's De civilitate ma rum puerilium (1530) as the prime mover in the literature of civility. The social theories of Norbert Elias regarding the civilizing process are informative in this context and discussed below.

(15.) Maguire, p. 135.

(16.) Roger Chartier, "Figures of Modernity," introduction, in A History of Private Life, 3:15-20, 16, 17.

(17.) Indeed, a contemporary answer-play, John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize (composed ca. 1611) suggests that no private mutuality was achieved.

(18.) Kahn, p. 98. Bamber also takes up the case: Kahn's "distinction between Kate's public and private selves seems to me a false one" (p. 34).

(19.) Duby, 2:7.

(20.) Ralph A. Houlbrooke, The English Family, 1450-1700 (London and New York: Longman, 1984), p. 63.

(21.) See Alan Macfarlane, Marriage and Love in England: Modes of Reproduction, 1300-1840 (Oxford and New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986), pp. 119-47.

(22.) See Macfarlane, p. 125. His concluding remark on the English marriage system is assertive: "It is difficult to envisage a more subversively individualistic and contractual foundation for a marriage system" (p. 129).

(23.) See Macfarlane, pp. 129-30, 132-3. David Cressy makes similar observations in Birth, Marriage, and Death Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 256-7.

(24.) Cressy, p. 286.

(25.) Ibid.

(26.) Margaret Loftus Ranald, "'As Marriage Binds, and Blood Breaks': English Marriage and Shakespeare," SQ 30, 1 (Winter 1979): 68-81, 73. Ranald does not investigate the ideological meaning of the public marriage rituals, but she does assume, as do I, that Renaissance dramatists "transferred English legal practice to foreign settings" in their plays (p. 69).

(27.) Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), p. 31. See Cressy, pp. 305-11, for a more complete consideration of the banns.

(28.) Banns are mentioned only four times in the Shakespeare corpus--twice in Shrew (see Marvin Spevack's Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare (Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1973), s.v. "banes"). The Taming of a Shrew, by contrast, lacks any mention of banns. A Shrew also has no account of the wedding scene or the phrase "kiss me, Kate"--both of which are significant in evaluating the meaning of public shame (see Ranald, p. 72). The Taming of a Shrew (1594) can be found in Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, ed. Geoffrey Bullough, 8 vols. (New York: Columbia Univ. Press; London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), 1:68-108.

(29.) See Morris Tilley, A Dictionary of the Proverbs of England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1950), p. 139, D22.

(30.) Boose, pp. 182-3.

(31.) Quoted in Orlin, p. 142. Act I, scene i of Shrew alludes to modes of public punishment in general. Besides carting, there is mention of whipping at the high cross and public hanging.

(32.) Daniel Fabre, "Families: Privacy versus Custom," in A History of Private Life, 3:53 1-69, 531.

(33.) Underdown, p. 121.

(34.) Helge Kokeritz, Shakespeare's Pronunciation (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1953), pp. 72, 169.

(35.) See also III.i.47 when Hortensio (as Licio) recognizes that Lucentio (as Cambio) is courting Bianca: "Now, for my life, the knave doth court my love."

(36.) Other rhyming words in this scene may also sustain this echo: "art" (lines 8, 9); and "heart" (line 10).

(37.) Kurt Riezler, Man Mutable and Immutable: The Fundamental Structure of Social Life (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1950), p. 227.

(38.) Ibid.

(39.) Of course, Kate's dilemma at this juncture marks the incredible social pressure acting on her and (gentle) women of the period: Petruccio desires Kate to feel pudeur, yet at the same time desires Kate to obey him utterly; once he has inculcated pudeur, he pushes her to repudiate it.

(40.) I would argue that shame itself is both gendered and class specific in Shrew (Boose notes the gendering of punishment [p. 184]). The lord in the first induction, for instance, takes special care not to shame Sly when he is a lord: "Lest, over-eyeing of his (Sly's) odd behaviour ... You break into some merry passion. / And so offend him" (lines 91-5). The lord maintains that Sly will be angered, but more specifically, Sly, were he a lord, would be shamed by their laughter.

(41.) Norbert Elias, Power and Civility: The Civilizing Process, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Pantheon, 1982), p. 292.

(42.) Elias, p. 293.

(43.) Elias, p. 294.

(44.) Habermas, p. 52.

(45.) Simon Fish, A Supplication for the Beggars (London, 1529), sig. [8r].

(46.) Thomas Turner, A Sermon Preached before the King (London, 1635), pp. 29, 30-1. Another assessment coeval with Shrew, Andrew Willet's Synopsis Papismi (London, 1592), likewise expresses bitterness against "the solitary life of Eremites in flying the comfortable society of men" since they are not "exhorting one another and provoking to good works" (p. 258). (I have modernized the spelling, and normalized italics and punctuation in all early English texts I cite.) The singular suspicion of women in private was even more conspicuous. Jo Ann Kay McNamara observes the parallels between women being driven out of convents, out of brothels, and, by association, out of covens (Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia [Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1996], p. 435).

(47.) The etymological link between "private" and "privation" is instructive. See OED s.v. "private": from "[L. prwat-us withdrawn from public life, deprived of office]." OED s.v. "privation," lb: "The action of depriving of office or position." Both words derive from a common source (L. prware), are politically informed, and, in other senses, denote a sense of "stripping away."

(48.) Henry Chadwick, "The Ascetic Ideal in the History of the Church," in Studies in Church History, Vol. 22: Monks, Hermits and the Ascetic Tradition, ed. W. J. Shells (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), pp. 1-24, 1.

(49.) Chadwick, p. 6.

(50.) William Watts, Mortification Apostolical (London, 1637), p. 4.

(51.) Henry Holland, The Christian Exercise of Fasting (London, 1596), sigs. A2v-A3r, [A4r]. It should be noted that treatises such as Holland's and Watts's were not necessarily the norm. Other opinions on the meaning of asceticism existed. See, for example, John Donne, Sermons, ed. George R. Potter and Evelyn M. Simpson, 10 vols. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1962), 7:106, 107, 145: or Willet, pp. 1054-5, for other views. Nevertheless, throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century, treatises on the benefits of renunciation and mortification were continually published. As Anthony Milton notes, "The monastic life had rarely been unreservedly denigrated in English Protestant thought--after all, it had patristic warrant" (Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 [Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995], p. 317).

(52.) C. J. Kitching, "'Prayers fit for the Time': Fasting and Prayer in Response to Natural Crises in the Reign of Elizabeth I," in Studies in Church History, pp. 241-50, 245. The psychology behind such a move is that in order to avoid sociopolitical catastrophe, the state must diligently pray, fast, renounce, and do acts of charity as a counteractive measure (p. 244).

(53.) William Hergest, The Right Rule of Christian Chastity (London, 1580), p. 1. William Wilkinson's The Holy Exercise of a True Fast, published the same year as Hergest's book, likewise associates the ascetic virtues of fasting, moderation in dress and speech, and vigilance (pp. 21-3).

(54.) Peter Stallybrass, "Patriarchal Territories: The Body Enclosed," in Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986), pp. 123-42, 126.

(55.) Stallybrass, p. 127.

(56.) Indeed, a medieval formula outlines the options available to women of rank: "aut virum, aut murum"--that is, either a husband or a wall (cited in Maureen Connolly McFeely, "This Day My Sister Should the Cloister Enter': The Convent as Refuge in Measure for Measure," in Subjects on the World's Stage: Essays on British Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. David G. Allen and Robert A. White [Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1995], pp. 200-16, 200).

(57.) Stephen Booth, examining Sonnets 119, 129, and 144, notes the sexual innuendo associated with the words "devil" and "hell"--words which occur several times in reference to Kate in I.i (lines 66, 88, 105, 119, 121, 123) (see Shakespeare's Sonnets [New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1977], pp. 499-500). See also Newman, p. 41. The epithet "Katherine the curst" (I.ii.123) and the exchange of sexual insults in II.i also indicate the perceived link between shrewishness and sexual lasciviousness.

(58.) Stone notes that nunneries in pre-Reformation England, so valuing virginity, "contained considerable numbers of upper-class girls placed there by their fathers in order to get rid of them" (p. 43). This would have likely been the fate of a real-life Kate.

(59.) Wilkinson, p. 21.

(60.) Anthony Horneck, The Happy Ascetic, or the Best Exercise, 3d edn. (London, 1693), pp. 428-9.

(61.) Horneck, p. 464.

(62.) Harington, p. 330.

(63.) Natasha Korda investigates Kate's position in the domestic economy as a manipulator of exchange values (purchased commodities) rather than of use values (those of home production) ("Household Kates: Domesticating Commodities in The Taming of the Shrew," SQ 47,2 [Summer 1996]: 109-31). Korda asserts that Petruccia seeks "to educate Kate in her new role as a consumer of household cates" (p. 112). Yet Kate never manipulates any cates; we never see her consume any (as Korda admits [p. 128]). Rather they are displayed, then rejected through Petruccio's agency.

(64.) Elias, The Civilizing Process: The Development of Manners, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Urizen, 1978), p. 118.

(65.) Elias, p. 121.

(66.) For a similar account of William Royser and the skimmington, see Newman, p. 35. Another Shakespearean reference to the cuckolded tailor occurs in Falstaff's lines in 2 Henry IV regarding Master Dumbleton, the tailor who refuses Falstaff's bond of security: "Well, he may sleep in security, for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it; and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lanthorn to light him" (I.ii.39-42). It is also instructive to find that Shakespeare's plays exhibit two additional instances in which the name "Kate" and "tailor" are associated. In 1 Henry IV, Kate, Lady Percy, asserts "I will not sing" to which Hotspur replies "Tis the next way to turn tailor" (III.i.254, 255); and in The Tempest Stefano sings of a Kate who "had a tongue with tang." "Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch" (II.ii.47, 50). The character of Kate is, of course, a theatrical construct; but the construction of Kate in Shrew, especially in the latter portions of t he play, seems to be based less on verisimilitude than on constructing Kate as a "sign."

(67.) Wilkinson, pp. 22-3.

(68.) Petruccio also employs that same verbal excess in chastising his servants. Among others, Valerie Wayne notes that Petruccio takes the role of a shrew in this scene ("Refashioning the Shrew," ShakS 17 [1985]: 159-88, 171). For a Romantic analogue of the shrewish diatribe, see Don Juan and the thirteen consecutive ottava rima stanzas that Lord Byron puts in the mouth of Donna Julia (canto 1, 145-57).

(69.) The tongue as unruly member is ultimately derived from the Epistle of James 3:6-8. See for instance William Perkins, A Direction for the Government of the Tongue (Cambridge, 1593): "The moderation of the tongue is a matter of great difficulty. S. James saith, The whole nature of beasts and of birds, and of creeping things, &c. but the tongue can no man tame: it is an unruly evil" (p. 67). The biblical source points up the uncivilized nature of an unruly tongue by its comparison with the animal; the same comparisons of Kate to the animal are evident in Shrew.

(70.) Watts, pp. 7-8. For another consideration of shame and the body see Gall Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1993). Paster deals rather with humoral theory and the body, especially bodily functions.

(71.) Quoted in Dolan, p. 25.

(72.) Several critics have recognized the performative aspects of Kate's final speech. Among them are Marianne L. Novy, "Patriarchy and Play in The Taming of the Shrew," ELR 9, 2 (Spring 1979): 264-80, 277; Boose, p. 179; Dolan, p. 8: Kahn, p. 116; and Newman, p. 48.

(73.) Margaret Lael Mikesell, "'Love Wrought These Miracles': Marriage and Genre in The Taming of the Shrew," RenD n.s. 20(1989): 141-68, 157. Mikesell examines how Shakespeare manipulates Protestant marriage and conduct books. She concludes by insisting that the final speech advocates marriage over spinsterhood, thereby participating in the polemic of such marriage tracts (p. 158). Of course, tracts such as these affirm the civilizing process. Shirley Nelson Garner maintains that Kate "must speak patriarchal language. The Kate we saw at the beginning of the play has been silenced" ("The Taming of the Shrew: Inside or Outside the Joke?," in "Bad" Shakespeare: Revaluations of the Shakespeare Canon. ed. Maurice Charney [London: Associated Univ. Press, 1988], pp. 105-19, 116).

(74.) See also the last part of n. 66.

(75.) Wayne also sees the final speech as advice to women (p. 172).

(76.) Habermas, p. 31.

Gary Schneider has just completed his Ph.D. at Wayne State University with a dissertation on early-modern letter writing. One chapter of his dissertation has been published in Prose Studies, while another is forthcoming in Explorations in Renaissance Culture.

Schneider, Gary

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)

Schneider, Gary. "The public, the private, and the Shaming of the Shrew." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 42, no. 2, 2002, p. 235+. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 31 Oct. 2017.

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