The Taming of the Shrew

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The William Shakespeare’s talent has been impressing the readers for many years and its unbelievable significance provoked appearance of a lot of Shakespeare’s theories. Beginning with statements that there has never been a person with this name, and to the theories that Shakespeare was, in fact, three talented writers under one pen name. His genius is shown in a range of things, including amazingly realistic details of people’s lives all over the world; creating scenes and stories that are understandable for everyone, with them people sincerely cry or laugh; unique Shakespeare’s language and many more. However, the most powerful criteria, which every year confirms his genius is the endless interest of people. Concentrating on the age of his works, it becomes clear that his poems or pieces have been timely and understandable for almost five hundred years, despite the fact that people and social environment have been changed a lot. This paper is dedicated to comparison of the Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and a modern romantic teen comedy “10 Things I Hate About You”.

The quantity of Shakespeare’s plots that we can find in the world cinematograph is very high. For instance, the plot of “Romeo and Juliet” starts appearing in cinematograph at the beginning of the 20th century. Florence Lawrence appears as Juliet in a first filmed version (ten minutes) produced by Stuart J. Blackton. Other early versions were made in Italy (1908) and France (1910). Then a variety of films, connected to this amazing story, appear. Some of them were completely unexpected, as the film of Peter Ustinov, about love of the daughter of American ambassador and son of the Soviet ambassador (Brode, 58). However, in the range of films, based on Shakespeare’s works, there are a lot of special and different moments that are typical for specific historical period. 

The action of “10 Things I Hate About You” takes place in the common modern days’ high school. The names of main characters are saved, but Shakespeare’s plot is transformed, according to the current reality. Two sisters, Kate and Bianca, have very harsh father, who tries to protect his daughters from adult life as long as possible. He proclaims are the following: Bianca can go dating only after Kate does. However, Kate seems not to be interested in this. Cameron, who is in love with Bianca, starts to implement a variety of actions in order to have a change with Bianca. He finds Patrick, who is ready to go for a date with Kate for a good reward. Unexpectedly Patrick falls in love with Kate and decides to win her heart. The plot is basically the same as in “The Taming of the Shrew”, but the way in which Kate and Patrick’s relationships develop is quite different.

For better understanding the reason of such differences it is important to go back to classical Shakespeare’s play, its main idea and influence of a historical period. Now it is hard to image a position in which women in that time were placed. Middle ages show ignoring of any women’s rights, moreover the cruelty often went unpunished. This situation did not change many years later. In that period no one could even imagine the smallest hint on gender equality. Any woman was a property of her father, and later on she belonged to her husband. A husband could implement any actions, excluding a murder. In the meantime, a woman could not do anything without her husband’s permission. There were no legal regulations of gender relationships, but in practice there was a full men priority law, unwritten, but one and undisputed. 

In this regards Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” shows a model of Katherina and Petruchio’s relationships typical for that time. To tame his wife, Petruchio uses unbelievably cruel tools, basically physical tortures. He doesn’t allow Katherina to eat, to sleep, to have a proper clothes, covering this all by advertence. Nowadays such relationships seem odd and unnatural, that is far from comedy style of the piece. However, in that time it was nothing more than usual life. A husband could do anything he believed to be appropriate with his wife.

Moreover, in “The Taming of the Shrew” very important, unexpected and even brave tendencies can be noted. The most important one among them is Katherine’s character. She has one of two main roles of the story and a reader could understand her well, empathize and even have a fellow feeling to her. Katherine’s feelings were described a lot; her second role after her sister in a family, overall mockeries and annoying cramped sister’s suitors. Moreover, she is a nice-looking and clever young woman. This is unusual tendency for literature of that time. Before Shakespeare, a theme of shrew had been appearing in some plays, including practically the same piece of an unknown author, but the character of the shrew was completely different – usually it was an ugly and stupid woman, whose image causes only laughter. The final of such stories was almost the same – she realizes her wrongness and becomes a silent slave of her husband. Shakespeare changes this completely. He gives to Katharine an ability to show her own position and relationships’ understanding. In her final monologue there sounds the idea of the whole story – she recognizes the priority of her husband, but it seems her own choice, her own understanding. Shakespeare does not promote an idea of gender equality, of course; it would be too unexpected in his time. However, he promotes the idea of gender equivalence and identity. Katharine was waiting for the one, who could tame her and the end of the story is not blind obedience, but domestic harmony and happiness.

The film “10 Things I Hate About You” was preceded by years of complicated women’s struggles for recognition of their rights and gender equality. Establishing in feminism ideology in 19th century, this important tendency can be seen in the most parts of world today. Now it is hard to imagine that so common things as voting, working or learning cannot be available for women. However, a price of freedom was thousands of lives.

Kate and Patrick’s relationships are understandable for today’s audience. When he felt in love, he tried to tame Kate not by his men strength, but by caring, tenderness and understanding. A shift of emphasis is seen here very well. Today the role of a woman is very important, as men tame women’s hearts for they could make their final choice. There is no place in the film for ancient forceful victory – just feelings and love. Kate had a psychological trauma in the past and that was the only reason for her bad temper. She waits for someone who could break her walls. “It does not necessary for everybody to like me. I don’t care”, she said. Kate is freedom-loving till the time she fells in love.

To conclude, comparing these two works gives a great opportunity to realize changes in gender relationships. Hundreds years after creation of Shakespeare’s work, it became understandable that the role of woman in society has changed very much. Freedom and gender equality affect relationship between men and women, which includes a lot – love, successful marriage, happy families, happy childhood and much more. In “The Taming of the Shrew” strong man’s priority and strength lead to happy family. Alternatively, in “10 Things I Hate About You” a patience of  Patrick, his strong desire to understand Kate and to care about her, are the main keys to love and  happiness in relations of the couple. Of course, the main Shakespeare’s idea has been lost through centuries, but this does not diminish the value of the main film’s idea at all.

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