“The Taming of the Shrew” is a comedic play written by William Shakespeare in 1593, whereas “10 Things I Hate About You” is a Hollywood film produced in 1999, which is an adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew”. There are several fundamental similarities between the two works. Each plot of the different works center around two young teenagers, their suitors, and their strict father.The classic Shakespearean play, “The Taming of the Shrew”, was published in the late sixteenth century, a time when feminism was at its peak. The current events taking place duringthis time influenced Shakespeare's work as the central theme of the play is gender and misogyny. The Hollywood film centralizes around the theme of feminism. The modern-day film "10 Things I Hate About You," adapted from the classic play "The Taming of the Shrew," was not only changed to conform with a different audience of the time period, but also contains more modern features by differentiating the characters, the main structure of the plot, and the theme.
Kat Stratford serves as the film’s main protagonist. She was created form the image of Katherine Minola, the protagonist in “The Taming of the Shrew”, therefore serving as a modern-day Katherine. Both leading ladies are independent and do not conform to society. Petruchio, Katherine’s love interest, describes her as “crust and shrewd” (Shakespeare 43). In both works of literature, the two women are portrayed as rude and abrupt. In contrast to Kat Stratford and Katherine Minola, both Bianca Stratford and Bianca Minola are the apple of everyone’s eye; they are adored and far more popular than their sister. In both the play and movie, Kat is pushed to be more like her much-loved younger sister, yet she stands her ground and does not let society get the best of her. Patrick Verona serves as a modern-day Petruchio in some aspects. Patrick is bribed by Cameron James, otherwise known as Lucentino in “The Taming of the Shrew”, to go out with Kat. Baptista, who is later known as Walter Stratford, forbids Bianca to have a relationship with anyone unless Katherine forms one of her own. Katherine Minola is incredibly intelligent and is not afraid to speak her mind. Unfortunately, she is portrayed as an angry, hostile person. In the sixteenth century, this kind of behavior and attitude was not tolerated, therefore making the person an outcast. It can be hypothesized that Katherine could be behaving this way due to the fact that her father clearly favors her younger sister. This character analysis of Katherine from “The Taming of the Shrew” also matches alongside with Kat’s, from “Ten Things I Hate About You”. While Katherine is directly referred to as a “shrew” in the play, Kat is not; her behavior and attitude fit the description of what it means to be a shrew. “The Taming of the Shrew” is complied with characters who fit and do not fit the gender roles that have been preset by society, particularly the idea of the males being the dominant gender; females were viewed as submissive and unassertive. The quiet, tame, mild-mannered Bianca fits the role of a traditional woman perfectly. The traditional woman is viewed as someone who keeps to her own, speaks when spoken to, and maintains a pleasant attitude Katherine rebels against this stereotype with her constant refusal to be ordered around by men, as seen in Act 5, Scene 2 when she states,“…now I see our lances are but straws, our strength as weak, our weakness past compare[…] and place your hands below your husband’s foot: in token of which duty, if he please, my hand is ready; may it do him ease” (Shakespeare 221).Katherine appears to be admitting that a woman’s role in society is to obey her husband. However, due to the fact that this speech appears on paper, it can be interpreted as sarcasm, which compliments her sarcastic attitude perfectly.
While both men and women in the play do not always behave in accordance with standard, traditional gender roles, only the women seem to be punished for such behavior. Katherine's stubbornness cause her to be insulted and abused throughout the play by her own husband. She is less highly valued as a potential wife than her sister and humiliated by several different male characters. This would seem to make Shakespeare's play rather sexist and misogynistic, especially since it portrays Petruchio's abusing Katherine as comedic.
While Katherine Manila is viewed as a fictional feminist of the sixteenth century, there are several other non-fiction feminists who are far greater than her. Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I are two of the many great sixteenth century feminists. Having a female serve in a court was far from traditional in the sixteenth century, “Anne Boleyn served at the court of Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, between 1513 and 1514” (History Extra). She served this important role in as early as her teenage years. Later on, she chose to wed King Henry VIII, who was looking for a woman who was able to bear a child, specifically a male child. Henry tried several different tactics to get Anne to reproduce with him, but Anne would refuse, “She would not go to bed with him, even though he wrote her love letters in his own effortful hand” (Mantel). Shakespeare could have used Anne Boleyn’s fierce attitude to form his very own fierce and stubborn protagonist, Katherine. Katherine’s tendencies are similar to Anne’s as seen when Petruchio tries to woo her, but Katherine simply denies and ignores him. Elizabeth I is viewed as one of England’s greatest and most powerful leaders, serving for 44 year, making her the ninth longest reigning British monarch. The reign of Elizabeth I is called the Elizabethan Era, otherwise known as The Golden Age. During this period, England enjoyed stability and peace, “This was in sharp contrast to the previous and following periods which were marred by religious battles between Protestants and Catholics” (Anirudh). Elizabeth I’s reign was proved to be the most prosperous reign in England’s history. Just like Elizabeth I, Katherine Minola is a fierce, independent leader. Elizabeth I took charge of her own life and did not let anyone stop her, let alone tell her what to do. Katherine’s behavior mirrors Elizabeth I’s fierceness and carefree attitude when it comes to taking charge of their lives. The late Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most famous feminist writers of the 20th century. “Her works, which include great titles like The Second Sex and She Came to Stay, often explored women's roles in society — and called out the wicked double standards that she grew up with” (Kennedy),much like Kat Stratford, who does not care for the double standards for women that have been set by society.Kat opposes social norms and refuses to blindly conform just because it is what she is "supposed" to do; she does her own thing, and she is proud of it. Virginia Woolf is one of the most widely read feminist writers of the 20th century. “Woolf was one of the first writers who brought a woman's inner life to the forefront and also was one of the only women who noted that misogyny and militarism tend to go together” (Kennedy). During the 20th century, having popular stories written mainly about women was not common. Kat Stratford, just like Virginia Woolf,did not care about the double standards for women that were set by society Woolf managed to look past society's rules about what women can and can not do, which managed to make her the famous feminist she is today. Kat’s transformation from feisty feminist to tame girlfriend can be viewed as a metaphor for the cultural shift from second to third wave feminism. Kat embodies many qualities of a second wave feminist (career focused, driven women who are concerned about equality) and it seems that by the end of the film, the angry feminist has been transformed into something much milder, hence the parallelism to “The Taming of the Shrew”. Although Kat does not clearly denounce feminism in the film, she makes subconscious changes to her attitude and image, along with her independence. Kat Stratford’s characteristics alludes to a time in history when women like Kat wanted to make a difference in the world. The Women’s Rights Movement, which took place from 1848 to 1920, was a powerful movement to grant women the right to vote. These women who took part in this movement did not care about the traditional roles of women in society, similar to Kat’s way of thinking. The structure of both “The Taming of the Shrew” and “10 Things I Hate About You” differ immensely. Both structures differ as the author/writers of both works had to conform with a different audience of a different time period. The tone in “The Taming of the Shrew” focuses on the inferior status of women while maintaining comedic aspect. On the other hand, the film focuses solely on social status. Not only does it have a comedic tone, but it also has several dramatic scenes to enhance the plot. “The Taming of the Shrew” is set in sixteenth century, Padua, Italy. The Italian Renaissance peaked in mid 16th-century. The Renaissance serves as an inside look at the way the people of the current time period thought, worked, and acted, “...many of the scientific, artistic, and cultural achievements of the so-called Renaissance do share common themes-most notably the humanistic belief that man was the center of his own universe” (History.com Staff). Although not explicitly mentioned in the play, the general theme during the ItalianRenaissance helps formulate the theory that Shakespeare let his surroundings influence him.Both the Italian Renaissance and the play centralize around the male gender being the more superior gender. While the twentieth-century American film may not take place during a Renaissance period, it took place after one of the most important movements in American history. Just as Shakespeare incorporated current events in his play, both Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah, the writers of “10 Things I Hate About You”, took advantage of previous historic events. The high school that the characters in the film attend serves as another form of parallelism between the film and play. The characters attend Padua High School in Seattle, Washington, referencing the setting of the play. This direct parallelism shows the audience that although both works occur in extremely different time periods, they still manage to incorporate a few similar aspects. Just as the structure of each work differ (play vs. movie), the structure of the plots differ as well. A majority of the comedic play is centralized around deceit and lies. Most of the deception in the play have certain motives behind them to benefit the antagonist.Character deception in the play is used frequently;, Lucentio is one of the main characters who uses deception in the form of pretending to be a tutor to get closer to Bianca despite the fact that her father, Baptista, forbids it. Another example of character deception is Petruchio’s deception of Katherine. Petruchio pretends that he loves Katherine so much, that he has to protect her; he cannot allow her to eat distasteful food or sleep in a bed that is unmade,“That bate and beat will not be obedient. She eat no meat today, not none shall eat; last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not,” (Act IV Scene I The Taming of the Shrew). The motive for this deception is that Petruchio wishes to tame Katherine; she is portrayed as the shrew of the play and needs to be tamed by the actions of love instead of violence. Although the film was produced several centuries after the play, the structural plot of deceit still carries forward. Just as in the play, deceit is used to benefit the opposing party in the film. Patrick succumbs to bribery t