Performing Passivity and Playing a-Part
in 'The Taming of the Shrew'"
Thesis: Here is Crocker's thesis:
As I hope to show, Shakespeare's play is . . . a game that uses femininity to distribute categories of wealth and status. Furthermore, to be comprehensible, animating feminine virtue requires the typology of the shrew. But, in reading Shakespeares drama of shrew-taming, I seek to demonstrate that constructing Katharine as virtuous provides the rhetorical apparatus for demolishing the differences in agency that separate the sexes. Without winking at the audience, Katharine shows that female submission must be a performance, because her autonomy derives from redirecting agency through the guise of passivity. (170)Here's what I believe the above means: As black defines white, and white defines black, so the ideal of a perfectly submissive woman depends on the idea that there is an opposite to the perfect woman the shrew. However, the transformation of Katherine from shrew to an advocate of female obedience shows that this is all wrong. In reality, women (including Katherine, Bianca, and Hortensio's new wife, the former widow) perform shrewish or obedient roles in order to get what they want, despite men's inane ideas about what women should or should not be.
Bottom Line: A commonsensical idea buried under endless jargon.