Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, the apparently ideal younger daughter of the wealthy Baptista Minola. But before they can marry, Bianca’s formidable elder sister, Katherine, must be wedded. Petruchio, interested only in the huge dowry, arranges to marry Katherine -against her will- and enters into a battle of the sexes that has endured as one of Shakespeare’s most controversial works.
Man v. Woman
Shakespeare really was a genius! He unknowing – or perhaps knowingly – created the first battle of the sexes (feel free to chastise me if there was something earlier). His idea was amazing and Katherine was such a rich character, but then it totally went downhill.
Having adored the 1999 film adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You, of the play The Taming of the Shrew; it pains me to have disliked the written version to the extent I did, and it being Shakespeare also hurt me because I LOVE Shakespeare (who doesn’t). The novel was good… until it wasn’t. This will never be my favorite Shakespeare book, basically because he took the fire out of Katherine’s eyes.
- Katherine – She’s my kinda chick. During this Elizabethan/Renaissance era I don’t know if it was common for women to have acted that way, but Kate was a 21st century girl all the way.
“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart
Or else my heart, concealing it, will break,
And, rather than it shall, I will be freeEven to the uttermost, as I please, in words.”
- Theme – The theme of a battle of the sexes was so before its time.
- Initial – Our initial introduction between Kate and Petruchio is hilarious. They were a contentiously pair – one comeback after another, like Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. They do seem perfect together, like Ying and Yang, and their acid tongues are just harmonious and the sexual tension is off the charts. But it ends there.
- The Drunkard – That guy was hilarious in his whole scene.
- Petruchio – Ugh. Say hello to the original douchebag, Petruchio. He’s the guy that only cared about himself and money, has a “taming” school for disobedient wives, and likes Kate to be quick-witted with everyone else except him.
“Be mad and merry, or go hang yourselves.But for my bonny Kate, she must with me.Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret;I will be master of what is mine own.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.”
Believe it or not, he gets doucheir (that’s so not a word) as the novel progresses. He basically tortures Kate by starving her, threatening others (like on Insurgent), forcing her to stay awake, etc.
“That bate and beat and will not be obedient.She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat.Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shallnot (…) This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.He that knows better how to tame a shrew,Now let him speak; ’tis charity to show.”
- Bianca the Bitch – She was so annoying because of her actions and holier-than-thou attitude. Just like Bianca in the movie, she’s vapid and just lacked spunk with all these guys fighting over her because she’s so beautiful and perfect. But then she pretends to be this seriously submissive and obedient wife, the quintessential wife of the Elizabethan/Renaissance era, until she’s good and married then shows her true “shrewish” personality. Please.
- Every Man – I think it’d be easy to just say every man in Katherine’s life was a complete waste of ink and parchment. From her hideous father Baptista who basically sold her off to the highest bidder, Hortensio is the lapdog of Petruchio, and Petruchio – as we previously established – is the ultimate abusive douchebag.
- The Ending – I don’t know why, but I half expected Katherine to Snap Out Of It (Arctic Monkeys) and tell off Petruchio, sadly this didn’t happen. The ending was so final, almost like a funeral. All the men are sitting around a table discussing the usual Elizabethan talk, the weather, the Queen, and who has the most obedient wife. Duh. Common topics. And then they make a bet on who’s wife would come the quickest: The Widow, Katherine, or Bianca. Katherine comes first and gives this lovely (sarcasm), lengthy (literal) speech:
“Fie, fie! Unknit that threat’ning unkind browAnd dart not scornful glances from those eyesTo wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fairbuds, And in no sense is meet or amiable.A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,And while it is so, none so dry or thirstyWill deign to sip or touch one drop of it.Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,And for thy maintenance commits his bodyTo painful labor both by sea and land,To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,And craves no other tribute at thy handsBut love, fair looks and true obedience—Too little payment for so great a debt.Such duty as the subject owes the prince,Even such a woman oweth to her husband.And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,And not obedient to his honest will,What is she but a foul contending rebelAnd graceless traitor to her loving lord?I am ashamed that women are so simpleTo offer war where they should kneel for peace;Or seek for rule, supremacy and swayWhen they are bound to serve, love, and obey.Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,But that our soft conditions and our heartsShould well agree with our external parts?Come, come, you froward and unable worms!”
What else is there left to say besides:
Overall, it was quite humorous and probably would have remained so if it weren’t borderline torture for Kate, and obsessive with Petruchio to tame her disobedient ways. Just didn’t hit my funny bone the right way, and I know that that’s the point of the novel but I’d have just rather it be the dark play it was meant to be instead of hiding under the mystique of humor.
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