Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth Rivlin

Committee Member

Dr. William Stockton

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Lemons

Abstract

This master's thesis examines falconry's usage as a framing metaphor in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. This work provides a close reading of a familiar play in order to address old concerns in a new light by bridging both feminist critique with the newer field of animal studies. Where recent scholarly work frequently ignores falconry's presence, this work recognizes that Petruchio's taming speech and the play's later acts are structured to mirror falconry practices that would have been well known to most early moderns, but are unfamiliar to contemporary audiences. This thesis provides a detailed comparison between the language of early modern advice manuals on taming, including the following topics: falconry, wifely duties, and horsemanship. Further, it seeks to illustrate how Shakespeare's text, which is often read as starkly misogynist, can be read as subversive of early modern patriarchy, while leaving its ideologies intact. The Taming of the Shrew's lead couple, Petruchio and Katherina, demonstrate a taming performance which figures Petruchio and Katherina as falconer and falcon, respectively. This adoption of falconry as taming metaphor is unique to Taming, and provides Shakespeare a new avenue for subverting patriarchal notions while appearing to adhere to them through skillful performance.

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