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Exit, Katherine

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Setting is a bedroom, Katherine alone onstage

“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper”?
O wretchéd tongue! T’was you who’d say such filth?
Ah fie, I curse the mouth so fickly crude
That fear can turn it to such blasphemy,
And self-betray convictions set in stone.
I curse thy flight’s slow-wittéd hastiness,
And spit in hope that poison’d words may soon
Be purg’d, and save my inner thoughts at least,
From cruel erasure, for I am myself.
Without my mind, what can I call myself?
For surely I cannot be Katherine.
But what importance is it if indeed,
I am afraid to say that which I feel?
For is’t not said that when one wears a mask,
She soon becomes so skill’d at her charade
That even she, convinc’d by her own deeds
Believes that she herself was never there
And thus in her confusion and despair
Her true self is absorb’d into a void
And hungrily, her guise eats up her face
And thus becomes her true identity?
Oh please, away! This femininity
Shall surely see that t’is the death of me!
How I remember youth, my only friend,
Which then would let me frolic and be free
Of expectation, and, when I wonder’d,
My father would take me into his arm,
And cradle me and call me curious.
Oh that I could return to those sweet days,
When I was neither woman nor a man
But simply child! Lo, those days were good.
But yet, as I grew older, they were pass’d,
‘Til slowly they descendéd to the past.
When joyous sweet adoring Bianca
Came and she charm’d them with docility.
She never wish’d to know things meant for boys.
How perfect and how gentle she could be!
With manners grace and smiles oh-so-sweet,
And soon there was to be no time for me.
No, Katherine, the loud and boist’rous teen
Was second to be given things she ask’d.
I vied, but as I did, grew more remov’d,
And reach’d for father as he pull’d away.
Polite and gentle me would not suffice,
So that’s when I truly began to change;
Perhaps it’s true I was a shrew at birth,
But that’s when I embrac’d that part of me,
And ask’d with petulance and ruder voice,
And hit and kick’d at what block’d off my path.
This force was obsolete, of course, you know,
So wittiness was next to be my way.
And when I turn’d me from obedience,
I felt a warmth consume me for I found,
A boy must have plac’d his wit inside me,
Back when I, but a babe, understood not,
For words became my playthings to control,
My tongue an instrument, I, prodigious,
A thousand puns in mind, and some retorts,
I stor’d in case I could find me a match.
But nobody wishéd to talk with me,
For though skillful, I still was such a girl.
In truth, never could I be more than that.
For surely physical limitations,
Defin’d my mental capabilities,
A woman ne’er was strong, nor of account,
To an extent where she can be rever’d.
No, women are worth naught but dowry shine,
Our hands wrapp’d in an invincible twine.
O, but Bianca, please do not believe,
That you were wrong to be as you were born!
I was a fool to hate for your success,
For your true nature is conformity.
At times I wish that I could be like you,
For, though subdu’d, your smile is oh-so-bright,
And hidden teachers win your modest heart.
I know that you are pleas’d that you’re not me,
For t’were you me, you’d wonder why their love,
Can, bas’d on obedience, be solemn truth,
And ask, “Dear boy, you love quiet so much,
Why not marry a drawer or lamp instead?”
But no, not me, you think his love so pure,
O sweet naïve Bianca, you’re a saint,
Nay, you’re an angel, perfect and too pure,
For this world, if you think that which you say!
That man can ever love a woman true.
Is there a sort of love without respect?
The answer’s one I never wish’d to check.
I can’t believe that ever I, like you,
Believ’d that men could be of different sort,
When I met one who spoke to me, indeed,
He spoke to me and rather than deny,
And say I was a shrew and leave me there,
We joustéd with the sharpest of our words.
And he seem’d not a one to put me down,
For did he not pay me some compliments?
Some flattery and wish to marry me?
And I deni’d but did, I’ll say, feel faint;
For the first time I’d found that part of love,
That good respect for not beauty, but self.
I thought Pertruchio could then love me,
And we could fight our way against the world,
And he would understand my true desires,
And it was more than superficial touch.
What fool was I, in gullibility.
How childish and weak, what a mistake.
For then his opposition grew but worse.
I thought, perhaps, that it was all a game,
And that he was attempting to be me,
And mutually we could have our fights,
And practice with our biting, hateful, words.
Why, at our wedding, he was rather fun,
And even though I recoil’d in shock,
With every swear and curse, my love it grew.
I pictur’d him a diamond in the rough,
And told myself that he was being crude,
Because, I thought, he wish’d to join my fight,
And tell society that it was wrong.
Perhaps his cruelty was just parody?
I thought that then for that was my desire,
And ir’ny motivatéd his duress
On my life, and he’d quit it when he knew
I was truly worthy of our good cause.
Deludéd I told me this every time
He treatéd me like filth, in hopes that soon,
His actions would reflect mine own desires.
But ev’ry time it fail’d, it came more clear,
That he wish’d me obey him with no thought.
He saw the sun and told me t’was the moon,
And then I realiz’d my eyes had deceiv’d.
For when I saw him first, he was the sun,
A warm and gentle light that came for me,
To light my way and show that I was right,
But no, night’s patron moon was his true face.
He brought the nighttime of my life to me;
My darkest time, my life now with no hope.
And so I did admit that t’was the moon,
And left the sun, my last remaining boon.
We came to home and there the madness was,
Accurséd bet I wish I did not win.
My sister, who did truly love at least,
Should have come first, not me of spite and fear,
But her of honesty, the nobler one.
And broken mind was not enough for him,
He wish’d me break some more, spread poison’d thought.
He bade me say the things that he desir’d,
And my refusal would surely be death.
And swallowing the lump that slowly form’d,
I said those hateful words which bid me quake,
And now give me the tears like those of youth,
When I ask’d Father why I never could,
Achieve, naïve and young I truly was,
To think that opportunity in reach.
And see I now why I am merely wife;
For I would kiss the devil for my fear
In order to avoid the wrath of man.
And after I had sold my heart and soul,
I realiz’d that I had been a fool.
For had my sister not done what I fear’d,
And plain as day thrown insults at her groom?
And o! I shan’t let her be so ignor’d
That when she does that which I wish’d her to
I turn away! No, I shall join her force!
And when I next see him, my foolish man,
I shall rebuke him, tell him he’s a fool!
And that I shan’t obey his ev’ry whim!
For love is trust, yea, that I shall tell him!
How now? He calls me? I hear him downstairs.
He asks me come!
Call offstage
I shall! Please wait! I shall!
O, please forgive-!
Normal voice
I leave it with his call.
My mind clearly as fickle as my tongue.
I’m empty and I’m broken now, I see.
I’m tam’d now, Katherine his loyal pet,
Condition’d to obey his ev’ry word,
Suppressing my true nature, cowardly.
Can I be me and still be safe from him?
Nay, that feat is too insurmountable.
I’ll be his loving wife-
Call offstage
I come at once!
Normal voice
So now I live in fear and self-turn’d hate,
And yet I do accept so kind a fate.