Taming of the Shrew

I always thought it was so cool to see the many different stage productions of Shakespeare and compare them to the original text. Last semester, I was in Shakespeare I and for my final project I created a lesson plan that included Twelfth Night and how it relates to the movie She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes (which is a classic). Now we get to start off this semester by reading Taming of the Shrew, off of which 10 Things I Hate About You is based (another classic). I know the movie so well and I’m excited to discover all of the similarities and differences. So far, the fact that Bianca cannot marry before Katherine does resembles the fact that Bianca in the movie is not allowed to date before her older sister does. The powerful male gender roles are very present; their father oppressing their right of choice to marry who they wish, or to marry no one at all. Tranio falls in love with Bianca and decides to disguise himself as a teacher, like his character in the movie does by becoming a French tutor (when he knows no French at all). This was another interesting thing to think of: the disguises and how they’d be portrayed on stage back in Shakespeare’s day. First we have Bartholomew pretending to be Sly’s wife, dressed in lady attire and then there’s Tranio, playing a character in a play who’s in a play, disguised as someone in a profession he knows little about. It makes me wonder if there’s a social comment about the people of the Shakespearean time period about whether they frequently cross-dressed and lied about their identities, or if Shakespeare just liked to shake things up a lot. Considering that he places so many of these themes in his other plays (like Twelfth Night), I would assume it’s a combination of the two. It’s interesting to consider the cultural time period of the work itself.

The meta characteristics are interesting to think about, because the play that Sly watches the actors put on becomes the plot, and the play is aware that it is also presenting a play, if that makes any sense. When Sly breaks into the scene at the end of act 1 scene 1and speaks of his enjoyment of the play, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy. He was just your average drunk going about his business until the Lord peeled him off the street and fed him this elaborate lie. It can’t turn out well for any of the parties.

“I smell sweet savors and I feel soft things” (induction ii, line 69)

I loved this particular line for a few reasons. The alliteration and the way it flows are very poetic, and it was one of the lines that made me stop and think “oh, that’s why I’m taking Shakespeare again.” But more than that, it really shows the genuine awe that has risen inside of Sly in finding out that he is a Lord (although we know he isn’t in fact). I’m excited to see what the rest of the plot brings, which hopefully will be a somewhat happier ending for Sly than for the Lord, because nice guys should always finish first.

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One thought on “Taming of the Shrew

  1. n02400919

    Excellent post Alexa. I also felt somewhat bad for Sly in the opening of the play but at first, mostly due to confusion about what he did in the first place to deserve getting thrown out of the tavern. The hostess says it is for breaking a “glass” but then as the the Lord’s First Servingman describes Sly’s supposed sleep-talking he claims that the reason was “Because she brought stone jugs and no sealed quarts.” In this case I’d feel even worse for Sly because all it seems he was upset at was the tavern’s aberration as far as official regulation is concerned.

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