Analysis of the Character of Katherine in the Novel The Taming of the Shrew and the Movie 10 Things I Hate About You
As the saying goes “seasons change, but people don’t”, and oh, how it shows between “The Taming of the Shrew” and its 1999 adaptation “10 Things I Hate About You.” They both focus on a “shrew” of a girl named Katerina, or Kat, and how she is used as a pawn in a game by men so they can be with her sister, Bianca. While the story line stays the same, the devil is in the details, and they show a drastic difference in the motives and actions of the characters.
Our favorite feminist, Kat Stratford, has a reason for why she gives everyone the cold shoulder; the answer? Betrayal. At one point she was content to act like everyone else, until her at time boyfriend dumped her because she did not want to have sex with him again. After this, she closed herself off to the world as a way to not be hurt again. On the other hand, we never see why Katerina acts how she does.
It can be speculated by how she is treated by men around her, as shown in Act 1, scene 1, lines 59-66, “ Hortensio: “Mates,” maid? How mean you that? No mates for you, unless you were of gentler, milder mold. Katherine: I’ faith, sir, you shall never need to fear. Iwis it is not halfway to her heart. But if it were, doubt not her care should be To comb your noddle with a three-legged stool And paint your face and use you like a fool.” That she is fighting back against how they treat her, and that she refuses to be made a fool of.
One of the biggest plot devices of the storyline is how the sisters’ father says that Katerina must be “carted off” before Bianca can be married. Even though the reasoning is the same, how their fathers treat the girls is different from the book to the story, making a drastic change in why the individuals Kats do what they do. In the play, their dad’s motive is money, as shown in the lines, “BAPTISTA : Content you, gentlemen. I will compound this strife. ’Tis deeds must win the prize, and he of both
That can assure my daughter greatest dower Shall have my Bianca’s love.” (2.1.361 – 2.1.364) because of this, the girls are pitted against each other. In the movies, the girls’ dad is doing everything he can to keep both girls from getting involved with boys, fueling Kat Stratford’s feeling that he has to protect her sister even more. Because of this, the Stratford sisters have more of a love/hate sibling relationship that we never get to see in the play.
While all of these this vs. that’s gets the point across, it does not show the full reason that the details are different from the play and movie. The fact is, we as a society have become desensitized to how outrageous it used to be for women to speak up when looked down on. Because of this, they had to find something that seems just as outrageous for our current times; strong women. While there may not always be a clear difference between women speaking up for themselves and being feminists, for this instance, there is.
In 1590s England, women had to be obedient no matter what, so a woman speaking out against a man was insane. To get the same reaction in this day and age, women would need to go out of their way to say “not only can I stand up for myself, but I deserve to be seen as an equal to men.” In the patriarchal society that has reigned long before 1590s England, and will continue to reign long after we’re gone, a woman will never be seen as equal, and a woman fighting for equality will always scare men. The first step to power is having a voice, and the leading ladies in both the play and film have shown how society has reacted to a woman with a voice.
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