Gender, of course, is a huge theme in the play, especially as it relates to power. The Taming of the Shrew examines the way 16th-century ideas about gender and hierarchy are tested and reinforced in turbulent heterosexual relationships. While patriarchy appears to prevail at the play's end, it's important to consider all the ways the play works to undermine sexist assumptions about a woman's proper place in marriage and society. The play seems to recognize that gender is a social construction and can be "performed" by men and women. Aside from the obvious look at women's roles, Shrew seems interested in exploring ideal forms of masculinity and, to some extent, male bonding.
The Taming of the Shrew takes a good hard look at marriage and, to a large extent, makes fun of the power struggles that occur within marital relationships. On the one hand, the story line and structure seem to promote typical 16th-century ideas toward matrimony and proper relations between husbands and wives. Yet, the play also goes out of its way to criticize and call into question some of the pervasive attitudes toward marriage arrangements (brokered between men without any input from women) and the ways men and women struggle for power positions once wed. One thing's for certain, most male characters treat marriage as a financial or business transaction, where women are commodities to be traded.