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"The Taming of the Shrew"

Ada Rehan as Kate (The Taming of the Shrew). Photograph, 1887

Petulant Katherine and mild Bianca are about as unlike as any two sisters can be. While many of Shakespeare's heroines defy their fathers to marry the men of their choice, only Kate is stubborn, loud mouthed, and disinclined to marry at all. She is dragged kicking and screaming to the alter by Petruchio, and when she gives her final speach about of wife's duty to her husband, we wonder if she is really "tamed."


Nineteenth century writers saw in her behavior the lack of a mother's influence on her upbringing.The American, Henrietta Lee Palmer, wrote in 1585: "It is scarcely possible to consider the character of Katharina with gravity; her shrewishness is so wildly extravagant, so inconceivable in any maiden, 'young, beautious, and brought up as best becomes a gentlewoman,' that she may serve but as the heroine of the extravaganza wherein she figures."



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  Additional Information

One of the most famous Katherines of all times was Irish American actress Ada Rehan (1860-1916), whose career was developed by the New York manager-director Augustin Daly.


Theater critic William Winter wrote, "it was her impersonation of Katherine, in 'Taming of the Shrew,' that decisively established her rank as a great actress of comedy."


The Folger has a collection of photographs from the Daly production featuring Rehan in her costume as Katherine, as well as Daly's own extra-illstrated editions of the plays of Shakespeare.

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