The two texts, « the Taming of the Shrew » and « the Ballad of the Sad café » show or describe women in a completely opposite way. In the first text the woman owes « true obedience » to the man, whom she should always « serve, love and obey », because in the first text, the husband owns his wife, she is like an object. The first text tells us how women should be and how they should act whereas in the second text a woman is in a position of power over her husband and she has quite « a temper ». It is the extreme evolution of women from obedience to leading.
« Kneel for peace » in text 1 insinuates that disobedient women are man’s enemy because you only make peace with somebody you had an issue with. It also tells us that after kneeling, the woman would become the man’s prisoner or slave. This also shows that women should not even try to complain about being kept home : « too little payment so great a debt », this text keeps saying that women owe men.
« Head » tells us that a man is a woman’s brain and it emphasizes on the fact that society thought women could not live without men, as someone cannot live without their head. We can also understand by this word that men are the head of the group and that they were always leading, whereas women were just made to follow and obey orders.
The words « Duty, oweth » mean that as we said before, woman were in debt because they got to stay home “secure and safe” when men had to work hard to bring money and food. But we can see that it is contradictory because they made women stay home, women did not ask for it, on the contrary. You can’t blame someone for doing nothing and tell them they are good for nothing in the same time. Again, it was just an excuse to treat women like slaves.
In the second text, Miss Amelia seems to have taken the lead of the couple. Men of that time thought that she was behaving « inappropriately ». Her marriage day was supposed to be the happiest day of her life but she is described as having a « temper » and ignores him almost the whole time. The town was happy that Miss Amelia would get married, they thought that being loved and getting married would change her but it is not the case.
The way that everybody in town is disappointed by Miss Amelia’s indifference shows that they all want her to be domesticated: the text says to be « tamed down ». It is not only Marvin who wants his wife to be submitted to him, but all men – and maybe women, too - in town, and that just shows that this was an issue that affected not only one couple, not only one town, but probably an entire nation. The reason is that Amelia must be made “calculable”, that is to say predictable, controllable, which does not seem to be the case with independent women…
The order of the words « bride and groom » shows that she is the one who controls their couple and that he has to follow her. She reversed the roles.
At the wedding, when the bride walks two paces ahead of the groom and she makes him understand that he will be the one who obeys, we can suppose that she is giving him a choice, whether he wants to spend the rest of their life following and be the one who is submitted or not. We can also notice that the wedding ring is made of silver which is the usual symbol of feminine passivity. This shows that Amelia will be dominating in this text even if Marvin had other plans, as his gift suggests, let alone that a ring symbolizes the total devotion of the one wearing it.
Something that is also important and needs to be noticed is the way that there was also an extreme evolution of the education that was given to women. In the first text, upper-class women did not know anything that could enable them to fly with own wings outside the control of their husbands, and just stayed home reading poetry or playing some music and chatting with other bored women, waiting for their husbands whereas in text two, Miss Amelia is « reading the newspapers, the farmer’s almanac or writing a few words on her notepad ». These are things that professionally active men used to read, not women. This emphasizes even more the fact that Miss Amelia reversed the roles and is the one in charge.
As a conclusion I would like to say that it is important to notice the evolution of the woman’s role in society compared to men’s. As we can see in text two the equality of the two genders is still not perfect because even if in the second text the woman is the one dominating the couple, equality between the two genders still isn’t perfect. The two texts created pity for two different characters, showing that not only men can be in control in marriage.
Charlotte, with Ruben and Elodie.
In class we studied two different texts. One called “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare in 1593 and the other one called “The Ballad of the Sad Café” by Carson Mc Cullers in 1953. Our group had to study the theme of the material and financial protection of an inactive wife and compare the texts.
In “The Taming of the Shrew”, the wife is considered as a slave and the husband is considered as a prince by her. He has absolute power on her because he is the head of the relationship and even though the story happened during the Renaissance the people in the story are acting as if they were in medieval times with a lord protecting his servants.
In “the Ballad of the sad Café” the husband is the one whom is being dominated by his wife as opposed to text one.
In text one the wife is the one whom is being dominated because she lives for her husband and he keeps her alive, he is her “keeper”, he not only looks after her but also he is like a jailer in her life, the one that keeps her locked up. The wife is locked in her marriage, she depends on her husband she may live like a princess but he is like her jailor so she is like a prisoner.
Her husband is the one who works really hard every day by sea and by land, day in and day out, from sun up to sun down, in the cold and in the rain while she is warm, secure and safe at home. Clearly, one understands that the “sacrifice” of the husband is bit exaggerated, as if the idea was to tell women that it’s much too difficult to be a man, and they had better stay home.
She is nothing without him because he is the one who works to bring the money home; it is also made evident when Katherina says he is “thy life”: no woman can survive without a husband.
In text 2, the wife is the one who dominates because she is the one that takes care of business, she reads the newspapers, and she takes care of the inventory of the stock. She does some things as if she was a man like drinking coffee and smoking with her father's pipe. In fact she is the man of the house and she takes care of business, something that Marvin did not see coming. Indeed, Marvin Macy saves up some money to get married to Miss Amelia. His intentions are clear: he will be the bread-winner. He also brings some “swamp flowers” as well as some meat. Symbolically, the meat says that he will be her “keeper” and the swamp flowers suggest her complete passivity. That is also the reason why, after Miss Amelia married Marvin Macy, the people from the city wanted and expected her “to put a bit of ‘bride-fat’ on her” as if her destiny was now to either have babies or gain weight from doing nothing, like the wives described in text one, who stay home and remain inactive.
During the wedding, Miss Amelia is looking for the pocket of her overall because she is impatient and bored. She is feeling so because she does not care about her marriage, only about her business. By no means does she need Marvin’s wages to make ends meet. She is an active member of society, as one can see when she begins to talk about some business with a farmer or when she reads all those newspapers and almanacs at the end. At that time activities such as reading the newspapers, finishing the inventory of the stock were activities that were reserved to men. Her reading and writing also suggest she is the thinking “head”.
Text 1 and text 2 are really similar because in both texts someone in the relationship dominates in terms of financial and material resources but they are really different in the sense the roles have been reversed between the wife and the husband.
Marie, with Killian and Sarah.
In both texts, feminine beauty, frailty and love are differently developed.
In what way do they oppose?
In “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare, the woman, who used to be considered as crazy because she was hard-tempered, didn't fit in what any man at that period could expect from a woman, talks about her husband with “fair love and true obedience”, that is to say with total admiration and devotion. We can say that she has been brainwashed by her violent husband. This brainwashing made her personality change.
This shows that she considers that she owes to her husband to be loving and beautiful in exchange for all he does for her. She's nothing without him, he gives her material and financial protection, intellectual guidance (“head”) and she lives through him, and only through him (“life”). In return, she has to be seen by him as beautiful and loving. In this text, love isn't a feeling anymore, it is a way of payment, which explains a lot about arranged marriage. On top of things, she is persuaded that being good looking is "a too little payment for so great debt". This is very important because it shows the permanent state of guilt women were maintained in by being constantly blamed for failing to justly satisfy their “loving lords”, the same guilt women were made to feel by Katherina when she accused them of being totally idle “at home” while their husbands suffered in the rain.
On the contrary, in “The Ballad of the Sad Café”, the woman lacks what used to be considered as feminine beauty or frailty in every way. Marvin “trains to give his chair to a lady”, thereby taking her weak constitution for granted and echoing the husband’s sense of “sacrifice” alluded to in text 1. Obviously, Amelia could not care less for Marvin’s chair, as her “great steps” and eager appetite suggest. She is by no means a weak and fragile woman. Concerning beauty or “fair looks”, it does not seem to be much of a concern to her, as "her mother's bridal gown was twelve inches too short ". That means her bridal dress is too small but she doesn't even care or bother to buy a more fitting one.
The truth to the matter is that this woman is herself when she behaves like a man. This is shown by such a phrase as “she had a smoke with her father's pipe" thanks to which she comes back to her true self and feels comfortable, whereas in her mother’s dress, she quickly feels “bored, impatient and exasperated”.
So, if it is clear that Amelia is a strong-minded, independent woman who can take care of herself without a husband, it is necessary to ask why the author feels the need to present her like a man. Is it impossible for a female character to be self-reliant and autonomous without acting and looking like a man?
The author Carson McCullers, a woman herself, seems very backward. We find it disturbing that to be represented as independent, a woman, in 1953, had to be masculine in any way whatsoever. In this text, the reader ends up considering Miss Amelia as a man. We can compare the two texts and say that in both, the masculine figure dominates the other one, even when this masculine figure is embodied by a woman. To a degree, it signifies nothing has changed in four centuries!
This is probably because the two texts have been written at a time where people used to think that way.
However, Shakespeare denounces this situation because he uses irony, so the first text is more modern than the second one. Maybe Carson McCullers sees Amelia as a sort of twentieth-century version of a shrew, without the taming. Or maybe 1953 is just too early for feminists to understand that a woman needn’t act masculine to be modern.
Khalil, with Manon, Océane and Shirel