Differences In Characters Relations In The Taming Of The Shrew And Ten Things I Hate About You

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William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwriter of many iconic plays we study today. Shakespeare’s play ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (Believed to be written in 1590 -1592) explores the dynamic relationships between men and women in the 16th world. This was a world where men and women were expected to comply. The play focuses on women in a patriarchal society, the expectations of the gender roles and the link between wealth and marriage.

The light-hearted romantic comedy released in the late 20th century ‘ Ten things I hate about you’ directed by Gil Junger takes on many of these concerns. The protagonist Kat shuns the societal expectations placed on her, she is vilified for her feminist nonconformity and is still treated as a commodity. Although there are some superficial changes that have been altered, which is necessary to engage a modern audience. They both hold onto the timeless, core themes and ideas. Taming of the Shrew being a stage play and Ten things being a film, use these universal ideas that haven’t ever changed and is relatable to the audience in both of the texts and eras. The issues being explored remain the same which is the ideas about love, gender, social status and appearance. However the differences between the two is the medium used to communicate these ideas, the views and attitudes of the characters, the plot and the setting of the two texts which is to position the audience in where they are, it creates time and place. In Ten Things it also gives a slight subtle references to scenes and references from ‘Taming of the Shrew’. Shakespeare shares some insight through the play from his time, he shows the inequality and the patriarchy of women. Women were controlled by the men, expected to be obedient and docile to their husband as if they were the men’s property. This is shown within the play ‘Taming of the Shrew’ when Petruchio says ‘I am the master of what i own’ Petruchio stating that he owns Katherina now that they have married. ‘She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house, My household stuff, my field, my barn, My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.’ Kate is a hot-headed old maid with a fiery temper. Since women are supposed to be compliant and dutiful, all the suitors have an instant liking for Kates sister Bianca. Bianca is loved, desired by all and favoured by her father, Baptista. Bianca appears as a chaste and silent girl. The only obstacle preventing her marriage to the highest bidder is her older sister Kate who must be married before Bianca is allowed to wed because Kate is the oldest and refuses to marry. There was a patriarchal society in Ten things except it has changed from men and women to high school groups. This is shown at the beginning of the film. Michael walks through the courtyard with Cameron and informs him about the different social groups at Padua High School. This shows the way high school is often perceived in real life. The scene, with a long camera shot, shows how judgmental they are putting everyone into groups and putting a label on them.

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However, Kat is not trapped in a society like Kate is. Kat is allowed to attend at her chosen university and has the freedom to wear whatever choice in clothes she has and any music genre that fits her choice. This shows the difference in times and how the times have changed within both texts.

Similar to Kate, Kat is a loud teenager and is seen as an outcast with no friends by her peers in her school as a result for her feminist perspectives. People mock her and when Michael is showing Cameron around the school, Kat yells at Michael leaving Cameron to question who she is which then he replies to ‘Shrew. The mewling wretch’. The perceptions of Bianca however is that she is ‘beautiful and deep’. Cameron comments on her physical appearance ‘Look at the way she smiles. And look at her eyes, man. She’s totally pure’. Despite her being ditzy and shallow, the boys in this film admire and yearn for this ideal, similar to Bianca in ‘Taming of the Shrew’. ‘I burn, I pine, I perish’ is a iconic line used in both of the texts by Lucentio/Cameron when they see Bianca. Even though the plot is about love and relationships, the fact remains that the time periods as well as the idea of marriage/relationships are very different compared to Shakespearean time and that of the late 1990’s.

In Taming of the Shrew, the relationships were very forced. There was a hierarchal expectation that everyone followed eg. Wealthy were with the Wealthy. Petruchio was looking for a wealthy wife, Baptista thinking he will not be able to handle Katherina unless he paid Petruchio 20,000 crowns. Petruchio agrees to marry Katherina after meeting her despite Katherina not be thrilled about it shows us how this marriage is one-sided and who the dominate gender was in this play and time.

In Ten things i hate about you, the relationships are similar to Petruchio and Kates marriage with the money involved except this time Patrick had to woo Kat. The difference between the two is that Petruchio made up his mind and ordered that Katherine and him would be married on Sunday which Kate wasn’t pleased about. Petruchio and Patrick were both the new guys in town, both labelled as strong, tough and could handle anything. However, they both took on different roles when it came to Kate/Kat. Petruchio would often humiliate Katherine to prove a point and example of this is their wedding day. Petruchio arrives late leaving Katherine stranded at the alter. When he does arrive he is dressed in old apparel, like a clown. He tells Kate that she is marrying him, not his clothes. After the ceremony, he carries Kate off on an old horse before she can enjoy the wedding feast.

In Ten things when Kat went to kiss Patrick and he declined she felt humiliated and didn’t talk to him. Patrick decided to make things up to her by serenading her in front of the school.

Throughout the film, Kats true self begins to show and she isn’t so negative all the time. Kat starts to fall for Patrick and this is a similar change to when Kate’s behaviour changes for Petruchio, she suddenly becomes more loyal and obedient. Patrick is able to ‘tame the shrew’ in Ten things by being overly nice to Kat eg. At the end of the movie Patrick bought her the guitar she wanted with the money he received from going out with Kat as a way to say ‘I’m sorry’. However in ‘Taming of the Shrew’ Kate is treated badly just to be proven a point. The similarities is the characters. Petruchio and Patrick are both getting paid to go out/marry the shrew. The expectation is that the marriage is a one-sided marriage, with no genuine emotions/connections of love. Since Petruchio was looking for a wealthy wife and got the dowry he needed to then tame the shrew since he was going to be married to her.

This plan of Petruchio’s worked and Petruchio wanted to see which wife was most obedient, Katherine comes when he commands unlike Bianca and the Widow who refuse. When Kate goes to fetch the other ladies she chastises them for the lack of duty to their husbands and that is when Kate delivers one of the most controversial speeches in the whole of Shakespeare.

As much similarities as these two texts have, their differences show how the women were treated, their roles etc. Taming of the Shrew clearly depicted the contention of male dominance and more of one-sided marriages. Ten things I Hate About You which was about more of dating and relationships, it brought out the female’s ability to have influence and/or control and it appeared to portray genuine feeling and are a result of compromise. Both of these texts give off a great message that is that you shouldn’t judge people off by their appearance. In Ten things they when they show you around the school you instantly see these stereotypes and judge based on what clothes they like etc. As much as it is entertaining, Kat and Patrick show the audience that if we judge someone based on their appearance, you could be missing out on a great friendship or relationship.   


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