Ten Things I Hate About You: a Modern Shakespearean Adaptation

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To create a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, the writers of Ten Things I Hate About You had to change elements of the original story to make it more accessible to contemporary audiences. Though the setting and theme of the story are very different from the original, there are clues throughout Ten Things I Hate About You that pay homage to the Shakespearean play.

With Ten Things I Hate About You, the screenwriter and director successfully update The Taming Of The Shrew for modern audiences. The opening of the story introduces the social hierarchy of high school cliques that provides the foundation for the storyline, just as the social hierarchy of nobility formed the basis for the events of the play that inspired the film. In this way, the writer supplies a familiar frame of reference, grounded in a common cultural experience and accessible to today's audiences in the way that Elizabethan cultural norms would have been to audiences in Shakespeare's time. The change in the reasoning behind the father's rules achieves a similar purpose; while the idea of marrying daughters off is foreign in our culture, overprotective fathers are very recognizable. Viewers can identify with the father who worries about his daughters dating more readily than with a father who worries about his daughters finding husbands, because concern over teen dating and sexuality is far more relevant to current social concerns. These changes, along with dialogue written in today's common manner of speech, make Ten Things I Hate About You a successful adaptation of the classic play.

Adapting The Taming Of The Shrew for modern audiences required changing more than setting and dialogue. The theme of changing to please a husband and live up to social expectations would not be well received in our individualistic, egalitarian culture. Changes in women's rights and dating rituals have rendered Shakespeare's message obsolete and inappropriate for contemporary society....
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