Sample essay plan

Sample question on The Taming of the Shrew 

‘The tongue-lashings that Katherina gives Petruchio have no other purpose than to make audiences laugh.’ To what extent do you agree with this view? Remember to include in your answer relevant comment on Shakespeare’s dramatic methods. 

Hints and Tips:

  • Remember to describe clearly the extent to which you agree with the given view
  • Try to organise your ideas logically and clearly
  • Use the correct terminology for the dramatic and literary techniques Shakespeare uses.
Start your essay with an introductory paragraph which clearly refers to the question and to what your response to it will be. State your main idea in response to the question and give two or three supporting statements that are based on The Taming of the Shrew.
E.g.: The tongue-lashings Katherina gives Petruchio do serve to make audiences laugh, but they also highlight the social and domestic roles of women which lead to some of them being labelled as ‘shrews’ who need to be ‘tamed’.     
Use the following structure for each paragraph in the rest of your essay in order to logical progress through your ideas as they relate to the essay question:
First sentence - Main idea and supporting statement:
E.g.: In Act 2 Scene 1, the tongue-lashing Petruchio receives when he attempts to woo Katherina is comic, but it also reminds the audience of the fact that Katherina is in control of her tongue, but not of other circumstances in her life, such as whom she will marry or where she will live.     
Example 1 - Discussing the dramatic or literary techniques Shakespeare used:
So may you lose your arms:

If you strike me, you are no gentleman;

And if no gentleman, why then no arms.     
Discussing the effect of these techniques as they relate to your main idea:
E.g.: Katherina’s language shows she is as eloquent and quick-witted as Petruchio is and the repetition of ‘arms’ and ‘gentleman’ gives ample opportunity for dramatic emphasis with insulting overtones during a stage performance. The effect of this wordplay is also to highlight Katherina’s energetic and imaginative use of language.     
Example 2 - Discussing the dramatic or literary techniques Shakespeare used:
E.g.: Katherina’s language is insulting, yet she finds in Petruchio an excellent sparring partner who is able to engage with her word play:
Katherina:  What is your crest? A coxcomb?
Petruchio:  A combless cock, so Kate will be my hen.
Katherina:  No cock of mine; you crow too like a craven.
(Act 2 Scene 1)     
Discussing the effect of these techniques as they relate to your main idea:
E.g.: Katherina insults Petruchio when she calls him a foolish simpleton (‘coxcomb’) but his witty word play changed the course of the conversation while at the same time providing her with another opportunity to insult him. Their witty banter has the effect of increasing dramatic tension as the comedy escalates into a battle of words and wills.      
Example 3 or 4 - Discussing the dramatic or literary techniques Shakespeare used:
E.g.: The short sentences and shared lines in the exchanges between Katherina and Petruchio indicate their quick-paced verbal jousting. There are times when both characters interrupt the other or when they speak over the top of the other person:
Petruchio:  Alas! Good Kate, I will not burden thee;
For, knowing thee to be but young and light--
Katherina:  Too light for such a swain as you to catch;
And yet as heavy as my weight should be.
Petruchio:  Should be! Should--buzz!
Katherina:  Well ta'en, and like a buzzard.
(Act 2 Scene 1)     
Discussing the effect of these techniques as they relate to your main idea:
E.g.: Katherina’s energetic use of language is highly dramatic and indicative of deeper psychological needs. She is both intelligent and aware of the injustices of gender inequalities in society. The tongue-lashing she gives Petruchio is one of the few ways in which she can assert independence and control.     
Concluding statement - Relating your final sentence to what you have said in this paragraph or to what you are going to say in the next paragraph:
E.g.: Katherina’s tongue-lashing is both comic and indicative of a more serious problem that has social, political and religious ramifications, leading Katherina to be labelled a ‘shrew’ and to be facing potentially punitive measures within the family and within society.     
The conclusion to your essay should re-state your main response to the question and refer back to some of the supporting statements and examples given in your essay. 
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