William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is often viewed as being reflective of the battle of the sexes, especially in the context of sixteenth centuryEurope. The play is primarily centered around the struggle between the two main characters of Katharine and Petruchio, wife and husband, but also moves around Bianca, Katharine’s younger sister, and her many suitors. Bianca’s personality is essentially portrayed as an antithesis of Kate’s, and while both sisters are presented as being beautiful and come with the promise of a large dowry for any prospective suitor, Bianca is presented as the perfect model of a desirable bride.
The contrast between Kate’s and Bianca’s personalities has been delightfully highlighted in act III of the play, especially its first and second scenes. It is essentially in these two scenes that we are introduced to two of Bianca’s suitors, Lucentio and Hortensio, who have disguised themselves as Cambio, a Latin tutor, and Litio, a music instructor, to win her affections. It is when we juxtapose how Bianca treats these two admirers against how Kate treats her suitors that we begin to fully understand the complexity of their characters.
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