The Taming of the Shrew
Through his writing, Shakespeare explored the human condition and gave an insight into not only his world, but the modern and future world too. In his play, the Taming of the Shrew and Wainwrights modern adaptation, we gain an insight into how money affects relationships, the position of women in society and how parental favouritism and sibling rivalry can affect an individual. Both composers use their respective forms to address these occurrences in our society.
As a romantic comedy, The Taming of the Shrew focuses on romantic relationships and specifically the economic aspects of marriage. Both texts demonstrate how money and social status often determines who marries who. In Shakespeare’s play, Baptista decides who Bianca will marry based one which one of her suitors is richest, without taking her feelings and wishes into consideration. Similarly, in the movie adaptation, Patrick only wants to marry Catherine because of her wealth and is even willing to put up with her shrewish behaviour, claiming to Harry “thou know’st not gold’s effect.” Both texts show how love is not always the only component of marriage and how external factors such as money, parents and social status are also involved.
Position of Women in Society
The position of women in society vary between the play and movie adaptation as the texts are set in different time periods. Shakespeare’s the Taming of a Shrew which is set in the 16th century represents women as obedient and submissive. This is shown when Baptista decides whom both of his daughters will marry, with Bianca and Katherine having no say in the matter. Pertruchio tells Katherine that “your father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry ‘greed on,” meaning that since her father has agreed, they will be married whether she likes it or not. On the other hand, in Wainwrights adaptation, women are independent and make decisions on their own. Both Catherine and Bianca are successful and have acquired wealth on their own. The texts demonstrate how the role of women in society has evolved over time.
Sibling Rivalry/Parental Favouritism
The Taming of the Shrew also explores parental favouritism and sibling rivalry and the effect it can have on those who are subjected to it. In both texts, Katherine’s shrewish behaviour and negative attitude is further brought out when she is continually downgraded and humiliated by not only her family but the public too. Wainwright emphasises sibling rivalry by highlighting the stark differences between Catherine and Bianca through language, appearance and behaviour. Wainwright emphasises how Katherine has little in common with her mother and sister and therefore makes her seem lonely and isolated. Towards the end of the story however, after she meets Pertruchio, she becomes more positive and her true personality begins to appear.