However, I think Bianca appears a lot sweeter and milder than she really is. In this way she is more intelligent as she plays it better then Kate as she can then get her own way with her father. Kate is transparently jealous of the sweet, feminine, and shallow Bianca, whose beauty attracts several persistent suitors. Bianca and her suitors are a constant reminder to Kate of her unsuitability and lack of admirers.
The decree that Bianca can marry only when Kate does makes Kate an obstacle to Bianca’s happiness.Kate is not totally wicked; she feels naturally guilty and feels sympathy for Bianca which she expresses to others through anger,’She is (Baptista’s) treasure, she must have a husband … ‘ This displays Kate’s angry, exasperation of the situation her father has put her into.
Baptsita as a father does not really understands either of his daughters, Kate, or Bianca. This is common in other Shakespeare plays such as with Egeus in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Capulet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Brabantio in ‘Othello’. These fathers misjudge and misunderstand their daughter’s feelings. Another common Shakespeare theme is that these fathers are often from single parent families.
Kate and Bianca are therefore deprived of maternal love. Also because there is no older female in the house for Kate to look up to it could be said that she has absorbed the more violent, aggressive, masculine influences from her father having missed out on mildness and kindness from a mother. After Kate’s first meeting with Petruchio is clearly evident that she does not want to marry him.
‘Call you me ‘daughter’ Now I promise you You have shown a tenderly fatherly regard, To wish me wed to one half-lunatic, A madcap ruffin and a swearing Jack, That thinks with oaths to face the matter out.’ ‘I’ll see thee hanged on Friday first. ‘ This obviously makes Kate’s feelings about her proposed marriage to Petruchio quite unmistakable to her father.
However he is so desperate to get her off his hands he ignores her wishes and proceeds with the arrangements anyway. Even before Kate’s wedding when Petruchio is nowhere to be seen, as Baptista tries to comfort Kate he still refers to her as a shrew. ‘Go, girl, I cannot blame thee now to weep, For such an injury would vex a very saint, Much more a shrew of thy impatient humour. ‘ Kate is trapped in a vicious circle.Kate is obviously jealous of Bianca’s suitors, not that she wants Hortensio or Gremio for herself but for the fear being unwanted and becoming an old spinster. Still there are no suitors, no one wants to court Kate which makes her even more frustrated, angry and violent so she develops a renowned shrewish reputation in Padua.
When referring to Kate to Petruchio for the first time Hortensio introduces Kate in this way; ‘Her name is Katherina Minola, renowned in Padua for her scolding tongue. ‘ He continues to say that he would not wed her even with her riches.This reputation that drives the men away from her makes her even more frustrated and aggressive. Petruchio is the one to break the circle for Kate.
He is a strong character who does not indulge in such gossip. Also himself being a strong, eccentric character he is not interested in weak, mild moulds such as Bianca but more fiery independent characters like Kate who he views as a challenge and a more passionate match. Although many critics argue that the methods Petruchio uses to tame Kate are too harsh I would argue that the methods he uses are justified in the end.