Thesis: Daniell says that The Taming of the Shrew is "a truly Shakespearean Marriage-play, and as such takes marriage seriously and makes as high a claim for the state of matrimony as, from experience of him elsewhere, we should expect Shakespeare to do" (23). The key to understanding this, says Daniell, is understanding the pervasive theatricality of the play. The Sly material and the sub-plot of the pursuit of Bianca are obviously theatrical; Sly is persuaded to play the part of a lord by servants of a lord playing the parts of themselves, and Bianca, who plays up a soft femininity, is pursued by disguised suitors. But for Katherine and Petruchio, the "theatrical dimension" does much more; they "can be seen to grow to share an ability to use theatrical situations to express new and broadening perspectives in a world as unlimited as art itself" (25). Thus Katherine's famous final speech, on the obedience that women owe to their husbands, contains a personal sub-text, directed to Petruchio:
- Daniell, David. "The Good Marriage of Katherine and Petruchio."
- Shakespeare Survey 37. Ed. Stanley Wells. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984. 23-31.
Partly she is telling him that the civil war in her is over, and she will not fight her rescuer. Partly she is rejoicing in their new world. (30)
Evaluation: Recognizing the theatricality of the characters is indeed a key to understanding the play, as has been noted by many critics, but Daniell, because of his tendency to drift off into generalizations such as "rejoicing in their new world," doesn't add anything to the insights of other critics.
Bottom Line: Only OK.