The Weaving of Tapestries: Shakespeare's use of Ovid in The Taming of the Shrew

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Dr. Mary Villeponteaux


Shakespeare weaves Ovidian mythological references throughout The Taming of the Shrew to create parallels between Katherine and Philomela from book six of the Metamorphoses. Shakespeare uses Ovid's Metamorphoses to highlihgt examples of a suffering woman, and to show that she is not only present in a tragety, such as Titus Andronicus, but also in a comedy. Through a close analysis of the text, it becomes apparent that Katherine experiences the same situations that Philomela endures. However, Philomela is able to escape her tragety through a trandformation, but Katherine has to endure her own tragic narrative while the characters around her are living in a comedy. Shakespeare uses Ovidian mythological references to highlight parallels exhibited between Lavinia from Titus Andronicus and Kathrine from The Taming of the Shrew to Philomela in book six of the Metamorphoses by comparing how they overcame their tragic circumstances and how they were able to tell their story to find personal justice. Katherine and Lavina were from different worlds but connected by the loss of freedom of speech and their attempts to overcome their new disability. Both women mirror Ovid's Philomela due to her loss of speech but also for the tapestry she wove to tell her story. Katherine's ability to weave language the reflected her true feelings into a speech to prove to her husband she had been tames, reflects the emotion that Philomela wove into her tapestry. Shakespeare also wove Ovidian mythological references into these literary tapesries to connect contrasting characters and show the reader that the play on language can disguise the truth.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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