How does each composer's use of this story reflect the time in which each was composed"
The Taming of the Shrew was written in the Elizabethan Era in England at a time when men were considered to be superior to women. The patriarchal society of this time is reflected to a large extent in the text and various implications of traditional values can be noted.
The modern appropriation, Ten Things I Hate About You, goes along the same story line however it is quite evident that the different context has a significant impact upon the content.
The most obvious indicator of the type of society is given through the medium that each text is presented in.
The Taming of the Shrew is a play and was staged for audiences during the early 17th century. The fact that Shakespeare chose to write a play rather than, say, a comic strip or screenplay, indicated that it was the most popular form of entertainment at the time. The best way for Shakespeare to have his work known was through the most popular form of entertainment.
The language of the text is another tell-tale sign of the type of culture prevalent in Shakespeare's era. Shakespearean English is used, which is much more poetic and refined than our present day dialect, hence the people in society had quite sophisticated speech.
In the film Ten Things I Hate About You, the language is fairly colloquial and rough-edged. Kat is called a 'heinous bitch' by her peers, and the Principal of the school, someone in an authoritative position, has no problem with relaying that information to Kat. This is a large contrast to the Katherina of the Shakespearean text, whom others called a 'shrew' and a 'wild beast'.
This exposes the crude English that society has developed, and that is being used by teenagers. The fact that a person in a position of power doesn't hesitate to use such language emphasizes that it is accepted not only by adolescents but by adults as well.
Yet another illustration of the popular culture of modern society is the medium that Ten Things is shown via. Choosing to adapt the play, The Taming of the Shrew, as a film shows that it was one of the most popular forms of entertainment of the 20th century.
Society in the Renaissance period was highly dominated by males, and they exercised their power over women quite regularly. We can immediately come to this conclusion after reading the beginning of the text, The Taming of the Shrew. Katherina is being defined by Gremio and Lucentio, and after their first meeting with Katherina Gremio states .".. though her father be very rich, any man is so very a fool to be married to hell"" Through the men's definitions the audience is given the first opinions of Katherina and she is not given a chance to voice her own opinion or thoughts on the matter.
The appropriated version of Katherina, Kat, is a character that is given much more freedom. She is a non-conformist and an outsider at her school.
She is defined by her own words, "I don't like to do what people expect, why should I live up to other people's expectations instead of my own"", and her actions in the English Class Scene. Kat makes references to Sylvia Plath and Charlotte Bronte, both feminist writers, and we are led to believe that Kat holds strong feminist views. The music in the film also signifies how Kat feels, for example the beginning song that has the lyrics 'I don't give a damn about my bad reputation'. In the film Kat is also given a chance to explain the reasons for her 'different' behaviour when she tells Bianca about her relationship with Joey. Katherina of The Taming of the Shrew is never given the chance to explain herself and her actions therefore we can conclude that it is because her society does not allow for women like herself to have an opinion.