Petruchio's Disguise And Identity Essay

2125 words - 9 pages

Petruchio's Disguise and IdentityThere are many reasons for Shakespeare using devices of disguise and altered identities in his plays. In fact in a great number of his plays disguise plays an integral role. A character"'"s purpose for disguising themselves may be to help or hinder other characters, to reveal truths, or perhaps simply for comedy. For Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew it can be all of these, and helps us better understand what William Shakespeare"'"s points might be. Shakespeare uses disguises in a great number of his plays, but Petruchio is interesting because of his deliberate and focused use of it. Petruchio is conscious of the guises he puts forth, to attain specific goals while wooing Katherina. Petruchio seems to have a firm grip on the use of how people perceive him and how he can use that to his own benefit, and ultimately to the benefit of Katherina.At the beginning of The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio seems not to be using any disguises. Petruchio approaches his friend Hortensio"'"s house in Padua, from whom he learns of the two sisters and their plight. Petruchio agrees to woo the shrewish Katherina so that Bianca, the modest one, can in turn be wooed. His reasons for taking on this fiery women, as he puts it to Hortensio, '"'if thou know / One rich enough to be Petruchio"'"s wife...I come to wive it wealthily in Padua; / If wealthily, then happily in Padua'"' (Shr. 1.2.65-75). Here we can see that he has come from his home with the explicit intention to wed, and further more, to wed a woman with a large dowry. He does not seem to be wearing any disguises here, but as my English teacher pointed out, when compared with his '"'bravado and masculine defiance'"' in Act I, Scene ii, lines 198-210 it may well have been.He also appears to be in this same '"'bravado'"' disguise before his meeting with Katherina. Hortensio, disguised as Litio, has just come back from being beaten by her with his own lute. To this news of his future wife, Petruchio boldly and eagerly replies, '"'Now by the world, it is a lusty wench! I love her ten times more than e"'"er I did'"' (2.1.160-161). I believe he is being genuine here though, because he is definitely looking forward to the '"'taming,'"' and is ready for the challenge that Katherina will be. In Petruchio"'"s time modesty and compliance were the noble attributes in a woman that men looked for, but Petruchio is a different man, looking for a different kind of women. By the way he is so eager to meet this fiery woman, and to be betrothed before even speaking to her, I would venture to guess that he has been looking for a woman with her kind of independent will before ever coming to Padua. Therefore, thought he may be in his '"'bravado'"' disguise in front of the other males, he is speaking truthfully in the above quote.Petruchio changes identities quite a bit throughout The Taming of the Shrew, but during soliloquy we know that he is speaking truthfully. The first time it is quote...

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