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An approach to characterisation: the case of Katherina in Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

Culpeper, Jonathan (2000) An approach to characterisation: the case of Katherina in Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Language and Literature, 9 (4). pp. 291-316. ISSN 0963-9470

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Abstract

In this article, I argue that literary characterization can be fruitfully approached by drawing upon theories developed within social cognition to explain the perception of real-life people. I demonstrate how this approach can explain the construction of Katherina, the protagonist in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Specifically, I introduce notions from cognitive theories of knowledge (especially schema theory), and impression formation. Using these, I describe (1) the role of prior knowledge in forming an impression of a character, and (2) how various types of impression are formed. Prior to my analysis of Katherina, I outline the kind of shrew schema the Elizabethans might have had knowledge of. Then, in my analysis I argue that the textual evidence in the first part of the play is largely consistent with this schema, and thus Katherina at this stage is largely a schema-based character. However, I show that as the play progresses a number of changes create the conditions for a more complex and personalized character. As a consequence of this analysis, I claim that Katherina is not, as some critics have argued, simply a shrew, or an inconsistent character, or a typical character of a farce.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Language and Literature
Uncontrolled Keywords: characterization ; gender ; impression formation ; schema theory ; Shakespeare ; social cognition ; stereotypes ; The Taming of the Shrew
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 1047
Deposited By: Dr Jonathan Culpeper
Deposited On: 29 Jan 2008 15:29
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:52
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/1047

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