How does each composer’s use of this story reflect the time in which each was composed? Critical Response – The story of The Taming of the Shrew is one that raises important issues both in the classic Shakespearean text and in the modern appropriation 10 Things I Hate About You. Despite the differences in the style of language, medium used and the changed values, the idea behind the two is similar. In both texts, the story is of a wild girl, the ‘shrew’, who then goes through the process of ‘being tamed’ by a man who is paid to marry her, or go out with her in the case of the film. The play is written by the great play writer, William Shakespeare, and the film is directed by Gil Junger.
How women are viewed as and treated in society has changed over time and this is portrayed in the two different texts, and so is role of men. The nature of the relationship between men and women are also different between Shakespeare’s play and Junger’s film. It is in the way that Shakespeare and Junger has composed each piece that differs it from each other, thus reflecting the difference in time and culture.
The style of language used in the two texts is noticeably different. The Taming of the Shrew is a 16th century play written by the great William Shakespeare, whereas 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern appropriation of Shakespeare’s play. It is fairly obvious that there is a difference in the language style – they have been written in different times and for different audiences. The Taming of the Shrew is written for an Elizabethan audience in the 16th century, who are used to Shakespeare’s style of writing, while Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You is produced for a relatively younger audience and targeted to mainly high school students.
The language style used has to suit the understanding levels of the targeted audience, and both texts fulfill that criteria. The style of language used reflect the time in which each was composed, the play is written in the 16th century with some of the other plays by Shakespeare and the film is made in the 20th century as it has modern dialogue. The only similarity they have in language style is when some characters in the 10 Things I Hate About You quote a bit of Shakespearean language and makes references to the play such as the school being named ‘Padua High School’.
The form of the two texts are different as well, one is a classic five-act Shakespearean play compared to a 20th century teenage film. The different media show what time each was made in. The play is written in a period of time when going to the theatre was one of the only means of entertainment because cinemas and televisions have not yet been invented; the film is in full colour and also features a modern soundtrack therefore illustrating the fact that it was made more recently.
Another obvious fact that shows the difference in time is that the values have changed between the time of Shakespeare and the 20th century. In The Taming of the Shrew, all women are supposed to act in the same way, like Bianca in the play, who is gentle and passive. In 10 Things I Hate About You, there are two clear perceptions of the women of the time, one who is still gentle but less passive and the other is independent and has a mind of her own. Both perceptions of women in the film are accepted in our post-feminist society, females have a stronger voice in the world but males still have more of dominance.
Despite this, the plot has been changed to fit our post-feminist society, we would not allow or accept a woman to undergo total submission to a man. Women are no longer expected to attend on everything their husbands tell them to do and can have opinions of their own, and also be heard in the world compared to being conformists in the 16th century patriarchal society. Kat in the film is strong and actually has power – the girls in the opening scene are afraid of her, she breaks school rules, she is able to talk back to her father, and she is able to walk away and leave her formal date near the end of the film. She is different and a non-conformist whereas in the play Katherina is ‘tamed’ by the end of the play. The society now is one that accepts individualism. This shows that the role of women has changed significantly four centuries later, and values and context has changed but women are still more like Bianca, both in the play and film.
The role of men in society has not changed as much as the role of women. Men do not conform to the standards of the society and they do not need to, as they are not expected to do so. In both texts, we can clearly see how the man constructs himself in the different characters. The audience gets a clear view of the role of men in society in both the play and the film.
The nature of the relationship between men and women is similar but with just a little difference from the play to the film. In both, there is the sense of using money as a means of motivation to get Petruchio, or Patrick Verona in the film, to go for the shrew. In The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio goes for Kate because of the dowry her father has to offer and Hortensio, who is a suitor to Bianca, makes an offer to pay Petruchio to go for Kate. In 10 Things I Hate About You, Patrick Verona is paid by Joey Dona, who wants Bianca for himself, to ask Kat out. Although money is involved in both texts, in the film Patrick falls for Kat, as being a ‘shrew’ in the 20th century is more accepted and he does not seem to mind her being an individual. In the play, Kate is entirely tamed by Petruchio and has no say in any matters. This again shows that females in the 20th century are freer to do what they please.
Lastly, another element that varies in the two texts is the role of the father. In Shakespeare’s play, Baptista plays the paternalistic role that has all power and authority over his two daughters; all the rules are enforced by him. In 10 Things I Hate About You, Kat and Bianca’s father is still trying to exercise this power and authority but he is more humane and allows rules to be altered according to the situation, and Bianca is allowed to date when Kat does because he believes Kat to be more mature and independent.
In conclusion, the issues that are raised in the story of The Taming of the Shrew are carried onto the modern appropriation 10 Things I Hate About You. However, the two composers use different techniques, such as the style of writing and medium that differ from each other in the two texts. They also incorporate the values of the society at the time into their works, which means the latter version of the story has altered values and context because the society we live in now has since evolved from the Elizabethan times. Through the different elements used, each text reflects the time and culture in which it was composed.