Social expectations

by Daniel Seymore

Social expectations of women

"Mates, maid! how mean you that? no mates for you,
Unless you were of gentler, milder mould."

-Hortensio to Kate Act 1 scene 1

While at first this just seems to be Hortensio's preference, as the story progresses, we see that Hortensio wants the ideal woman of that society, submissive, quiet, and fair, which he sees in Bianca.


"Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow, ... My hand is ready; may it do him ease."

-Kate to Bianca and the widow act 5 scene 2

Kate's whole speech details what is expected of married women in that society. They had to obey their husband's wishes, agree with them always, respect them, tend to the household, and bear children. This whole passage seems somewhat sarcastic though, following Shakespeare's belief that there should be more equality.

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Social expectations of men

"And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,"

-Kate to Bianca and the widow Act 5 scene 2

While women are expected to stay at home and clean, men were expected to labor all day to make money for the household. While they had more rights, the jobs that men worked were often dangerous, and they were expected to fight for their countries during wars. Men were also expected to make the first move when it came to marriages.

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Social expectations of servants

"So had you need.
In brief, sir, sith it your pleasure is,
And I am tied to be obedient;
For so your father charged me at our parting,
'Be serviceable to my son,' quoth he,"

-Tranio to Lucentio Act 1 scene 1

The servants in this society are expected to be loyal and obey their masters no matter what. In this society, it is expected that the master is the smarter of the two, but in this play, there are multiple instances in which the servant is smarter, most notable is Tranio's whole character, as he is the one orchestrating Lucentio's plan and making it work.

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