The Taming of The Shrew

The Taming of The Shrew

This post is an excerpt from the book titled Teachers’ Secrets and Motherhood Savvy by Renee Ellison. I highly recommend this book! I pray that this post will bless and challenge you, wives. Nothing good comes from being quarrelsome and needing to be right with your husband. (A shrew is an ill-tempered, scolding woman.)

We can see yet a third powerful picture of discipline in Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew. (Perhaps you can find the old black and white film.) It is a superb treatment of bringing someone’s wayward will into submission. This is not a recommended strategy to use with your spouse, but it is an excellent strategy to use with your children!

The Taming of the Shrew is the story of a confident young man who got to choose between three young ladies for his wife. Two of them were rather demure; one was wretched. To everyone’s surprise, he picked the wretched one—the lass who threw a temper tantrum every day. But, strangely, he proved wiser than his friends knew.

On the honeymoon, he cleverly proceeded to throw several temper tantrums himself, supposedly on her behalf, in the name of love, right before she did. When they entered the bedroom of their inn, for example, he pitched a fit for his beloved, ranting and raving that the mattress was not soft enough for her. “Off with it!” he shouted, “We will sleep on the floor instead.” She spluttered in confusion, saying timidly, “Well, I would have liked to have at least tried the bed.”

At dinnertime, he also threw a fit, declaring the food not fit for his beloved. He returned it to the kitchen. She again argued that she would have liked to have tried it. At every turn, where there was a potential possibility of her foul spirit expressing itself, he jumped the gun and threw the fit himself.

Over the course of the honeymoon, this proved to show her the wretchedness of a disagreeable and contrary spirit. So much so, that on the way home when he saw the sun, he called it the moon, just to see whether she would agree with him. She protested mildly, saying that it was the sun. But when he declared it again to be the moon, she hastily dropped her contentiousness and agreed for the sake of harmony between them. It now didn’t matter to her what the reality of the case actually was. She was now more interested in exhibiting a yielded spirit and achieving relational harmony than with asserting her own perceived rightness of the situation.

He arrived home with a much softened, sweet-spirited wife. He engaged his comrades comrades (who had likewise married the other two in the meantime) in a wager to call their wives by whistle or by messenger. The husbands of these supposedly demure women found them subtly resistant after marriage. They did not come running when called—in fact, they refused to come. But the hero of our story now had a wife who agreeably appeared and surprisingly graced all who beheld her. This is the goal you want for your children: to train them to be agreeable and to have a magnanimous spirit.

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
Proverbs 21:19

***A message to women who are offended by this story: Don’t be! It’s a make-believe story that’s trying to get a very good point across. Life is a whole lot better if you focus upon what needs to be changed in you rather than being offended and needing to be right all of the time, as many women these days are.

14 thoughts on “The Taming of The Shrew

  1. Wow how powerful! The best part is when she realized it did not help to argue or disagree with her husband. Most people have no idea what being one flesh means. You guys should be on the same page.

  2. Agreeing even when he is wrong is not lying or supporting a lie right ?(I ask this with sincerity)

    1. Not agreeing, just not having to argue about it and be right. Allow the Lord to convict him and often when we think we’re right, we become wrong in the way we argue our point.

  3. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using this method with children either. Didn’t really find it’s good example. While I agree it shouldn’t be used on a spouse either, I can see how it would work better on an adult as adults should know better than to pitch a fit at everything. And thus see the foolishness of their behaviour. Whereas the bible says foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but what does it say drives it far from him? Not pitching a foolish fit in order to gain compliance. Thats equally foolish.

    1. You will have to read the book in order to put this story into context with child raising. She is a great teacher for parents teaching their children to immediately obey willingly. Sometimes, it’s good for children to see how terribly ugly temper tantrums are. I see nothing wrong with this.

      1. I believe there was a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story rather like this; where to get their twin daughters to stop quarreling, a mother and father start having the very same petty, silly fights (“You got more juice than I did!” “Did not! “Did too!” type things) until the girls beg them to stop, at which point they say something like “Why we thought you LIKED quarreling!” to which to girls reply that they hate it and promise never to do so again. Just reminded me of that. 🙂

        Taming of the Shrew is an excellent and far more insightful understanding of male and female dynamics than any modern marriage advice, in my opinion.

        1. That reminds me of what a female colleague once told me: if her daughter threw a tantrum, she would throw it right back at her. It’s very disconcerting to a bratty child to see a parent act that way.

    2. The play is supposed to be a satirical comedy as opposed to a marriage advice script, although there are certainly good points made in it.

  4. I never read that and it sounds interesting! I think that might be my summer *beach* read! Growing up in SoCal, I kept a stack of books destined for my 3-4 beach days every week.

    I wonder why my English teachers never assigned that!As a former Miss Bossypants, it probably would’ve been a good lesson for me. I was clearly a shrew. I’ve abandoned that wretched young brat!!!

  5. As a man, the greatest shrew I have to tame is my own self. My experience, and the experience of history, is that men who master their own desires, attain the highest form of power, righteousness under God. When a man has this – and most men don’t attain it until their 40’s (Moses and Isaac, both married at 40), fifties or sixties, while the majority of men go to their grave, never attaining it, and never became men, which is tragic – he is attractive to all who love God, and intensely hated (out of jealousy and envy, as Cain hated Abel, because Abel pleased God, and Cain didn’t) by all who are enemies of God or lukewarm.

    Even non Christians recognize this. From Homer’s Iliad, Paris, the son of the King of Troy, was given a Golden Apple, and told to choose from Hera (promised him ultimate power), Athena (promised him ultimate wisdom), or Aphrodite (Promised him the most beautiful woman on earth). Like most men today, including me for most of my life, Paris was a silly fool, and chose the most beautiful woman. Had he chosen power or wisdom, he likely would have ended up with a beautiful wife anyways, since wise women who are beautiful revere power and intellect. A man who has power and wisdom is likely to be able to give a woman the financial and emotional security she craves.

    In Dickens great “Great Expectations” he talks about a lawyer, Jaggers, who has a ferocious looking maid, and it turns out he broke her of her bad habits.

    In the Bible, rarely do you see any man taming a woman or women taming men. Most commonly you see those who love God and are loved by him uniting in marriage to serve God and their spouse who also loves God. Hosea was an exception, where his wife was a prostitute, and he was patient with her.

    Joseph was unusual too, along with Moses, where you find powerful Godly men marrying, with the full consent of the women’s fathers, pagan princesses. Both marriages seemed to have gone pretty well.

    A stupid man follows immodest, indiscrete, and whorish women, a wise man preserves himself for either serving God, or marrying and loving a Godly wife while serving God.

    I can call a man stupid, because I once was that man, and will always have to fight to avoid becoming him again.

    Many Christians will call this language harsh, but, they apparently don’t read their Bibles, because Solomon says the same thing in Proverbs, especially Proverbs 7.

  6. I read Renee’s book years ago and decided to watch the movie – I believe it was with Mary Pickford – and was so surprised, because the movie changed to a large degree what Shakespeare had written. In the end the wife has her own way proving her husband to be an idiot – she manipulates him. So don’t make the mistake of watching that one.

    Instead, the movie with Liz Taylor as the Shrew is excellent and makes the point really well. It’s a movie you will remember. I thought it showcased how people, esp teens, can become selfish and bratty and what it looks like to other people.

    I agree with Anna that the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book does an excellent job of helping young children see how terrible bickering between siblings (and parents) can be. Loved those books!

  7. This is an excellent post! I emailed a long letter before Christmas in regard to relationships with my wife, Charlotte, who is 23 years younger than me and you will know from that I very much had to “tame the shrew” when we first married! I managed it with the Lord’s Blessing: by moving back to my family home, motherhood and converting her to the path of Righteousness. We have now been married 26 years and been blessed with three children. When we lived in London, I took my wife to see “The Taming of the Shrew” in the hope that she would see me as Petruchio to her Katherina but at the time it didn’t register. Although it is obviously pleasing to marry a demure and compliant bride I think, as a man, it is also immensely satisfying to “tame a shrew”. My wife read your book The Power of the Transformed Wife and agreed on every point which is a far cry from where we were when we first married – then she would have thrown the book in the bin!

  8. This was a great way to explain this scripture. I have lots to learn as far and being a quiet spirit. Gods been dealing with Me. Thank you so much. All glory to God.

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