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To a contemporary feminist, The Taming of the Shrew is surely anathema. A strong woman is shown to be easily manipulated and ends up subjugated by a somewhat insensitive and boorish man. Yet, despite the real objections, the play has been popular for centuries in itself, in adaptations (Tamed and How, or The Push), and a wildly popular musical (Kiss Me, Kate). Thus, one may be forced to concede that there is an element here that transcends the knockabout, slapstick humor. Something here, as in most of Shakespeare, transcends the literal, causing audiences to continue to enjoy the basic premise and the argumentum ad absurdum. In a sense the contretemps between Petruchio and Katherine predicts the antagonistic love-making of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. Finally, despite their sexist natures, both plays are intellectually and emotionally satisfying.

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