10 Things I Hate About You & Taming of the Shrew: Appropriation
The historical and cultural contexts of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (TTS) and the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You (10TIH) differ exceptionally, resulting in the film’s expression of values unlike those expressed in Shakespeare’s original text. Shakespeare’s play was written during the Elizabethan era, during which the belief that men were superior to women was prevalent. This concept is centralised in TTS, through incorporation of a disputably misogynistic tone and the dominance of men consequently forcing Katherina into marriage and submission. In contrast, 10TIH, a modern film appropriation of TTS, largely challenges the values of Shakespeare’s play. It presents to its audience a high school love story appropriate to modern beliefs and sensibilities, emphasising the greater equality between genders and the power of women in the characterisation of the Stratford sisters and their interaction with their respective love interests and father.
TTS reflects its 16th century European context in that its central theme is the dominance of men over women and society’s acceptance of it. Whether Shakespeare intended to ridicule the misogyny and patriarchy of Elizabethan society is irrelevant; however, as his play is concerned with the two, it indicates that the social systems were firmly established. Katherina is forced into marriage that was agreed upon by Petruchio and her father, the governing force of their household. Her objections are nullified in the face of her lesser status as a woman and the authority her father and husband holds over her in age and gender.
Dissimilarly, 10TIH is concerned with the power of women and youth. A modern film, it is directed towards a target audience of teenagers with modern views- which dramatically changed from the 1960s and onwards with the rise of feminism and youth. In this modern setting, Kat is able to exercise her non-conformist views freely. Though