Two Ways of Taming a Shrew

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Name: Oana- Maria Ungureanu
Email Address: oanyungureanu@yahoo.com
University: Babes-Bolyai University
Course title: Gender stereotyping/ Masculine universalism
Assignment number: 1
Interpretation title: Two ways of taming a shrew. A comparison between William Shakespeare’s ’’The Taming Of The Shrew’’ and ’’10 Things I Hate About You’’, the movie

William Shakespeare’s plays lend themselves to a world of interpretations. The ‘’Bard of Avon’’ composed in the late XVI ͭ ͪ century a controversial piece of literature that has been highly regarded for more than four centuries. The time-defying play is entitled ‘’The Taming Of The Shrew’’. Owing to the play’s time-enduring themes, it has repeatedly been adapted as to be valued in various periods of time. One such adaptation is the movie ‘’10 Things I Hate About You’’, written in 1999 by Karen McCullah and Kristin Smith. Both the play and the movie draw upon the everlasting theme of the battle of the sexes. Consequently, a comparison between the two versions of this theme will be further pursued. In contrasting the original text and the modern appropriation, it can be observed that each text reflects the time in which it was composed. Plays, the most popular form of entertainment during the late XVI ͭ ͪ/ early XVII ͭ ͪ century, respond to the Elizabethan audience’s needs to be entertained. Although the exact dating of Shakespeare’s ‘’The Taming Of The Shrew’’ is difficult and uncertain, the play was published in 1594 under the title ’’ A Pleasant Conceited History, called The Taming of a Shrew’’. Being written at a time when women were deemed by society as inferior to men, various implications of the patriarchal society of the XVI ͭ ͪ century are reflected to a large extent in the text. Even from the Induction, the framing device used by Shakespeare as to provide a setting for the play proper, we are offered a brief sketch of the ideal behaviour befitting a wife in the XVI ͭ ͪ century. The Lord’s instructions to his page, Bartholomew, for the moment when the latter is to pose as Sly’s loving wife give an insight of the position of women in the XVI ͭ ͪ century: ‘’With soft low tongue and lowly courtesy,

And say ‘What is’t your honour will command?’’[Induction I.112-113] In that time’s male-dominated society, the established doctrine was that ‘’woman is by nature and by divine ordinance inferior to man.’’ The entire development of the play portrays how the hierarchical system of the age naturally places women/ wives in total submission to men/ husbands in accordance with the patriarchal concepts that governed the Elizabethan society. Opening itself to a world of interpretations, the Shakespearean text was cleverly set in American ‘’teendom’’, a high school of Padua, Seattle. The movie seems to be the pursuer of the play; however, ‘’10 Things I Hate About You’’ tries to respond to the needs of a modern day audience. Even though the story- line of the movie is quite similar to the plot of the play and many parallels can be drawn between the play and the screenplay, the movie tends to emphasize what is of value for the XX ͭ ͪ century American culture: education, cars, money and sex. One main feature of the Shakespearean text to have been adapted as to reach the targeted modern audience is language. Shakespearean English, which is witty and full of puns, has a defining role in displaying intentions, emotions and thoughts. Being much more poetic and refined than modern English, it is also more expressive and allows the audience a quick insight into the social structures of the age. The Shakespearean text abounds in metaphors, similes and sexual innuendoes. The most common comparisons are those relating Katherina to different animals/insects such as ‘’wild cat, hen, wasp, hawk’’. The most frequent appellatives associated with Katherina are’’ Kate the curst, devilish fiend, shrew, wild beast’’. These have been made relevant for the prevailing American culture by...
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