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Emma Morales Dr. Ellinghausen English 323 September 17, 2010

Katharina and Pertruchio: Wild Thing, I Think You Move Me As Jimi Hendrix well knows, wild things do tend to move one, and there can be none wilder than Katharina. In William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, tenses of the word ‘move’ are used several times. While a fairly common word today its meaning has gone through some changes. In Petruchio’s and Katharina’s case, the word ‘moved’ was used in their first meeting but this encounter was more of a clash of titans than a wooing of a fair maiden. I will be taking a closer look at this word and some of its forms, as they were meant to be used back then in the late 16th century and more specifically, as they were meant to be used in Shakespeare’s plays, and uncover the true meaning behind the text. Pertruchio first uses the word ‘moves’ when speaking of Katharina. “She moves me not, or not removes, at least.” (Act I, Scene II, Line 72) According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a common meaning of this word in the late 16th century was to be favorable towards. (OED) One can infer from this that Pertruchio does not favor the idea of Katharina as a wife. This definition of the word is not consistent to what we in the modern era would think of when reading this quote, however. But to truly know what Pertruchio is saying one has to ask, what does this character want in this situation and in general.

One can tell from reading the few lines before this one that Pertruchio is seeking a fortune. Hortensio tells him how he can acquire such a fortune, but he would have to deal with a shrew of a wife. Pertruchio’s response to his suggestion is, “She moves me not…” (ActI, Scene II, Line 72) The way he says this can also give us a clue. In a play, this line would be read out loud with the stress most likely on the word ‘moves’ to give it the implication that the notion of Katharina as a wife does not appeal to him. Another definition of move, however, is to rouse or excite feeling in a person, or to become agitated or angry. So now the meaning changes from one not favoring an idea to one not caring. “She moves me not…” now shows how Katharina’s ill temper and shrewdness mean little to him as long as he gets the promised dowry. To further promote this idea that, at least at this point, Pertruchio cared little how much of a shrew Katharina was, another meaning for the word ‘move’ for the late 16th century was to change position or disposition. (OED) “She moves me not…” can now mean that she will not change his disposition. This is very different from our modern take on this word that tends to mean to affect with emotion, tender feelings, or compassion. (OED) If it were read with the stress on ‘she’ it could be understood as Pertruchio having no feelings for Katharina at all. The other half of this quote could shed some light. The word ‘removes’ in this quote is interesting as well. One definition for this word is to persuade a person to change a belief, not to pursue a particular course of action; to sway, to dissuade. (OED) Given the fact that the word ‘not’ is used before the word ‘removes’, this implies that Katharina does ‘not’ sway or dissuade Pertruchio from his endeavor. So after a close examination of this quote I think it’s fair to say that the fact that Katharina was a shrew mattered very little to Pertruchio. What he really wanted was her dowry and to get that, he would put up with anything. “She moves me not, or not removes, at least,” could literally mean that Katharina’s

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ill-temper will not affect Pertruchio’s decision to pursue her. (Act I, Scene II, Line 72) In Act II Scene I Pertruchio and Katharina meet for the first time. The conversation they have includes the words ‘moved’ and ‘moveable’. A closer look at each word individually is necessary to decipher the real meaning here. In line 193, Pertruchio says, “Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.” (Act II, Scene I, Line 193) According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of the word ‘moved’ for that period was to be affected by emotion; emotionally touched, swayed, or impressed. (OED) This is actually consistent with our modern meaning of the word. I’m inclined to think, however, that this is not exactly what this quote means. Pertruchio is ‘moved’ or swayed to ask for her hand in marriage but only because one thinks at this point, he still wants her dowry. There is another meaning given for the word ‘moved’ in the Oxford English Dictionary that reads: that has been changed from one position or state to another. (OED) One now might be inclined to think that perhaps he is after more than just her dowry. In the very next line Katharina responds, “Moved! In good time: let him that moved you hither.” (Act II, Scene I, Line 194-195) Two common definitions for the word ‘moved’ have already been stated in the previous paragraph but another means simply to be displaced. (OED) While the first ‘moved’ in this quote probably irrefutably means to be swayed, the second could mean either, but if we assign it the meaning of ‘emotionally touched’ we get a rather shrewd comment from Katharina which is exactly what one expects from a shrew. Here she is telling Pertruchio that it is indeed convenient that he is so swayed and she dares, almost, for the person who swayed him to come forth. One can imagine that the stress is on both instances of the word ‘moved’ to make her point. This brief exchange let’s you know exactly how Katharina feels about Pertruchio wooing

her and sets you up for her next few lines. “Remove you hence! I knew you at the first, you were a moveable.” To which Pertruchio responds, “Why, what’s a moveable?” (Act II, Scene I, Line 196198) As I already stated previously, one definition for ‘remove’ is to sway or dissuade. (OED) But given the fact that Katharina is yelling and almost giving him an order, it most likely means to leave or to dismiss. (OED) Here the stress is on the word ‘remove’ and Katharina is demanding that Pertruchio leave at once. Next we see the first use of the word ‘moveable’. Katharina actually refers to Pertruchio as a ‘moveable’. The Oxford English Dictionary has several definitions for this word; some are: capable of being moved, not fixed in one time, place or posture, having a tendency to move, changeable, or fickle. (OED) One can agree that these all make sense but ‘fickle’ seems to be the best fit here. Katharina doesn’t know too much about Pertruchio at this point but takes the opportunity to use his own words to describe him. “I knew you at the first, you were a moveable,” is basically a pun to his suggestion that he is moved to woo her. (Act II, Scene I, Line 196-197) To her, his wooing is just a spur of the moment decision and that makes him fickle. To this, Pertruchio asks, “Why, what’s a moveable?” Katharina responds, “A joint-stool.” (Act II, Scene I, Line 198-199) To the modern ear her response makes little sense, but after consulting the Oxford English Dictionary, another definition for the word ‘moveable’ clarifies it. Katharina answers a joint-stool, which is a stool made of wood that was joined together, or in other words, a cheaply made stool; an object. (OED) The other definition for ‘moveable’ states that it can refer to property capable of being removed or displaced. (OED) If we look at her first mention of the word ‘moveable’ one has to wonder, then, if this is the meaning for the word she intended all along. Perhaps she is simply stating that Pertruchio is like a cheaply made stool-not well put together.

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There is yet another definition for the word ‘moveable’: a changeable or mutable person or thing. (OED) This definition encompasses both the ideas of being fickle and of being property that can be moved. In essence, the message that Shakespeare wants Katharina to convey about how she feels about Pertruchio is that she thinks little more of him than an object, and that he, like all men, is subject to change his mind, opinion, or desire, on a whim. Finally, the word ‘moved’ is used once more in Katharina’s speech at the end of the play. “A woman moved is like a fountain troubled, muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty.” (Act IV, Scene II, Line 143-144) It sounds like Katharina is saying that a woman moved emotionally is like troubled fountain, but that makes little sense, so we look to the lines before it for an answer. In this speech, Katharina is scolding the other wives for not coming to their husbands when called. A ‘woman moved’ might quite literally mean just that; a woman kept or put in motion, changed from one position or state to another. (OED) If we assign this meaning to the word ‘moved’ the adjectives following make a little more sense. Katharina might be illustrating how a woman moved, or put in motion, can be ill-seeming, thick, and bereft of beauty. If one takes into consideration that these wives did not want to come when called by their husbands, this makes a little more sense. Once again, with the stress on the word ‘moved’, Katharina is emphasizing the action of being literally moved from one place to another. In conclusion, the word ‘move’ has had several uses in the past. A word that can be easily overlooked as a verb that signifies action can significantly change the meaning of a sentence, and in Shakespeare’s case, the disposition of a character completely. Was Shakespeare’s clever use of words meant to confuse his audience, or was he simply showing off? In the case of the word ‘move’ in this play, without careful research one might miss the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Shakespeare’s cleverness. But one can argue that even the most common definition of the word

will do. In any instance, there was a lot of ‘moving’ in Taming of the Shrew, and Katharina and Pertruchio ended up happily ever after because of it.

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