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teachers, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare


By definition, all comedies must end by praising and/or celebrating the elimination of a serious threat to the patriarchy order, and Shakespeare sets up the final scene of The Taming of the Shrew, one of his earliest comedies, to do just that. In short, by the time we reach Lucentio and Bianca’s wedding banquet, Petruccio has effectively tamed Katherine of her shrewishness. However, despite this scene of and cause for celebration, Petruccio remains oddly dissatisfied, as he responds to Lucentio’s encouragement of the sitting, chatting, and eating appropriate to such a festive occasion with these mood-killing words: “Nothing but sit, and sit, and eat, and eat” (5.2. 12). Although critics and editors have paid little attention to this oddly dissonant expression, in what follows, I argue that it constitutes an affective echo of both the period’s “confusion,” as Lisa Jardine terms it, about the education of women as well as Petruccio’s attempt to resolve that “confusion” in the direction of the body- and diet-oriented recommendations of Juan Luis Vives: one of the most conservative educational theorists of the period.