Shakespeare's Shrew: Orthodoxy and Carnival

De Freitas, Paulo Luís. 2002. Shakespeare's Shrew: Orthodoxy and Carnival. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Shakespeare's Shrew: Orthodoxy and Carnival)
DRAM_thesis_DeFreitas_2002.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (19MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Although the Shakespearean comedies have been analysed as festive plays, and more recently even his historical plays and tragedies have been viewed in the light of Bakhtin's theory of Carnival and the carnivalesque, The Taming of the Shrew has been systematically ignored. It would appear that this situation is a result of the misogynist issues the play raises. In seeing The Taming of the Shrew as a carnivalized drama in addition to the other Shakespearean plays already placed in this category, the aim of this thesis is to show that this early comedy is perhaps even more representative of what Bakhtin termed as carnivalized literature than any other play to be found in Shakespeare's canon. This, I would suggest, is related to the intertextual qualities of a text which has interwoven in its three-plot structure popular oral tradition, elements of the Italian commedia, and the domestic clowning conventions. All these three elements are saturated with a system of images appropriate to the culture of Carnival. As a result of this, the text goes deeply into the Carnival grotesque realism described by Bakhtin. Seeing the play form as dialogic in the same way as the Bakhtinian polyphonic novel is, I argue here that The Taming of the Shrew is a dialogue of voices, in which the patriarchal one is dominant. However, the patriarchal voice is not the only one to be heard. The opposing voices threaten the patriarchal authority, even when they seem to agree with it. The play's carnivalesque open-endedness affied to its 'metatheatrical' qualities reveals the contradictions of the dominant ideology. With respect to the controversial issue of the relationship between Shakespeare's The Taming of The Shrew and The Taming of a Shrew, the anonymous text is analysed here as a parody of its sources rather than as a ‘plagiarism' or a 'compilation' of Shakespeare's and Marlowe's works. The similarities and differences between these two texts are seen positively rather than dismissively.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Carnival, carnivalized literature, Bakhtin, comedy, grotesque realism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Jun 2020 11:08

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:44


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)