Compare scene from training of the shrew

            The Taming of the Shrew is a timeless classic which, like so many of Shakespeare’s plays, has as much appeal in the modern world as they did four centuries ago - Compare scene from training of the shrew introduction. In particular, Shakespeare’s strong heroines tend to capture both the imagination and the heart of any audience. In The Taming of the Shrew, Katharina is a strong and outspoken woman who exists in a world where femininity was expressed by being subdued and modest. Because she rebels against this she is seen as undesirable. In the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, we are presented with a young woman who is equally rejected by her society because she is outspoken and unwilling to bend to any societal formula. In particular, the opening sequences of both of these works, show both the modern and ancient worlds bridged by the similar and age-old struggle of femininity.

            In the movie, Kat is introduced to the audience through a new boy at school, a boy who ultimately falls for her younger sister. She drives an old car and seems determined to be different. The audience quickly learns that she is disliked by the majority if the students, disliked by any of the boys and she is best avoided. She works hard to keep up this personae, but ultimately proves to be a person who is extremely sensitive and intelligent but has been hurt in the past. She uses the distance garnered by her shrewish and argumentative nature to protect herself from harm.

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            In the original play, Kate is unhappy with the attempts to be be married off by her father. He is trying to rid himself of a disagreeable daughter but the potential men of the town are only interested in his unavailable and more amenable younger daughter. The little she says is argumentative and derisive and she is observed to be either “mad” or strangely “forward” by one of the men. She is not interested in them, and they are not interested in her. It seems to be a mutual, uneasy agreement to have nothing to do with each other. But the suitors’ desire to get to Bianca overrides this disposition. In the end the suitors agree the only way they can woo Bianco is to find a man, however unlikely that may be, to marry the “devil”.


            Like in the movie, we see Kate from a distance, and she is described to us as a comparison to her more appealing and demure younger sister. She is described though the eyes of the men of society, who see her as little more than an obstacle on the path to winning Bianca. In the play, we do not get a chance to see a very realistic and vulnerable side to Kate as we do with Kat. Instead, in a comedic flow of events, her shrewish nature becomes a focal point for entertainment, as her outbursts of anger, and attempt to find her own identity within the confines of a patriarchal society, are laughed at and put down by the men.

            The fact that the men, in the opening sequences, are used as tools to describe the women in the play is an interesting method of showing a bias towards the main female characters. Yet both the movie and the play show very different ways in how they develop the characters of the heroine. The audience becomes more accepting of Kat. She is developed as someone who we come to realize has a lot more to them despite first appearances. Whether or not she is conformist becomes less important than the fact that she can find someone to love and have companionship, and this mutual respect allows her to become more than the bad-tempered and abrasive character we are at first lead to believe she is.

            As for the original Kate, we do not get to see another side of her until the end, when she becomes “tamed”.  Neither women wants to sacrifice who she is and her individuality. Kat finds someone who can embrace her for what and who she is, but Kate is forced to conform.

            The opening sequence of the movie also holds little hope of Kat finding a man. But it is toward the end of the movie that we see a far more significant character development for the heroine that we ever would have in Shakespeare’s original. Whether the modern Kat has indeed been tamed seems less of a focus as other aspects to her character are revealed. The modern Kat is humanized in every conceivable way and becomes a likable character. Kate is someone even women love to hate and really only becomes partly redeemed when she marries and learns to become a wife. This taming seems fake


and contrite in a world where being different is appreciated despite society’s demands that it is not the way to succeed. The two women, despite being the same character and despite being described by society in a very similar light in the opening sequences, ultimately diverge in character and become two very different entities. The modern and the old worlds collide to exhibit two women born of very different  eras who ultimately have little in common other than an apparent shrewish nature.



1.         Shakespeare, W.(author), Bevington, D. (editor), The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 4th         Edition, Barnes& Noble, 1994.


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