In “The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare, and “Ten things I hate about you”, directed by Gil Junger, both contexts reflect the society of when each text was composed. When comparing these two texts and observing the themes, it is indisputable that these contexts have shown the similarity and differences of the values during the time, thus, it shows the evolution of society. Firstly, “The Taming of the shrew” suggests money to be a very important necessity of life during the time. It is a suitor’s economic consideration which acts as a determinant to who marries whom.
Both Bianca and Katherine are viewed upon by their suitors as “treasures”. This is suggested by Petruchio’s first appearance: “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua; If wealthily, then happily in Padua” (Act 1, Scene 2). The initial attraction between Katherina and Petruchio is money, and this is similar to the appropriation. “Ten things I hate about you” also shows money to perform a significant and controlling role in life of the contemporary society, though not quite to the same extent as the play. The wealth of Joey Donner is clearly a connection between the two contexts.
Money is used to persuade Patrick to “date” Kat. However, love overtakes wealth and this illustrates how values have changed and how relationships need greater meaning and context than just simply economic status. Social position is another issue in both of the texts. Within these texts, each person employs a certain social position that conveys with its specific expectations of how that person should behave. In the play, Katherina does not live up to the society’s expectations, so she excludes herself from what she considers as part of the “acceptable social community”.
And due to her alienation, she suffers from the capability to “belong” to any social groups and this leads her to become the ultimate shrew. In “Ten things I hate about you”, at the beginning of the film, Michael explains to Cameron about the different classified groups in their school. Later in the film, it is discovered that Kat was once a part of the “popular” group of people. Due to morality and pressure, she became aware of the excess amount of conformity in the society. Similar to her equivalent character from the play, her isolation leads her to have a negative attitude towards society’s expectations and conformity.
When comparing the issue in these two texts, it is suggested that the existence of the social barrier, the importance of the “exterior” and playing the respective social role has not changed during time. The two texts also address the gender positions and the relation between opposite sexes. The differing roles of men and women of the time are apparent to those of the Elizabethan times. After Katherina and Petruchio’s marriage, Petruchio instantly dominates the household despite Katherina’s behaviour.
Petruchio speaks of instructing her like a “falcon” and plans to “kill a wife with kindness”. Katherina is forced to follow Petruchio’s every order, not only because she is his wife, but also because of the role in which females were constrained to fulfil. However, by the end of the play, Katherina delivers a long speech of her husband’s role and her appreciation: “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee… My hand is ready, may it do him ease” (Act 5, scene 2).
Although throughout, Katherina does not play the traditional female role, in the end, she surrenders and accepts the conventions of her society. On the other hand, in “Ten things I hate about you”, it is evident that Kat does not follow the traditional female role. Alongside with favouring “angry girl music”, she expresses herself in a classroom saying: “oppressive, patriarchal values which dictate our education. ” In saying this, she is referring to gender roles, in particular the male and the way she feels repressed by her father. Kat is a feminist who has very strong opinions and values.
The reference to the novel, “The Feminine Mystique”, is an allusion and this is connected to the play. The novel is about the struggle of women, especially housewives, who yearn for equality. This is a link between the two texts because the struggle for female equality is associated with the “gap” between the two texts, that is, how the contemporary society evolved from the Elizabethan era. The way that this issue has been presented by the film and the play suggest that the importance of playing the traditional gender role has changed over time.
The Taming of the Shrew” written in the 1500’s and the modern day interpretation, “Ten things I hate about you”, produced in the late 20th century, share common issues and prevailing themes. The main characters run parallel to one another between these texts as well as the strong connection of the values and themes of the society during the time. Undeniably, the relationship between the two texts is significant because the cultural contexts evidently shows the maintenance and changes to the society over a long period of time.