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Appropriation of a Key Text from the Past Critical Essay - William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew

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Introduction

Year 11 Preliminary Assessment Task English Extension Vivienne Tran 11EF Appropriation of a Key Text from the Past Critical Essay YEAR 11 PRELIMINARY EXTENSION ENGLISH William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew raises many important issues, reflecting the context of the times it was composed and their values. In its modern 20th century reproduction, 10 Things I Hate About You, many of these issues are appropriated into different and also similar values and themes with the same relevance it has in the society. The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, focusing on courtship and marriage, while also sharing the essential characteristics of a romantic comedy - disguise, deception, slapstick humour and a happy ending. The concerns of married life and in turn the roles of men and women in the society, would have been particularly relevant to English audiences of the Elizabethan times. An important issue regarding Elizabethan marriages of mainly upper class society would have been the motives behind these: that being money, land and power. In the play, Baptista chooses the suitor to his daughter Bianca by their offer of wealth. "'Tis deeds must win the prize, and he of both That can assure my daughter the greatest dower Shall have my Bianca's love." ...read more.

Middle

In many Shakespearean works, the father is often entitled to give his daughter away in marriage to whoever he prefers. Since patriarchal values have since then been abandoned and today, we adopt the idea of 'equality of the sexes' and the shifting roles of women in a society. Shakespeare's audience expected the idealised woman to be acquiescent, passive and "below their husbands foot". However, Bianca from 10 Things is admired not for these reasons. Although adopting the identity as the 'ideal woman' empowers both Bianca's with popularity, the definition and values of 'ideal' has ever since changed as the film illustrates the perception of ideal young women as beautiful and fashionable. Hence, Kat in 10 Things, is marginalised for being rebellious, difficult and different, "Why should I live up to people's expectations and not my own.", who was unlike the Taming Katherina who possessed none of the submissive attributes. She was branded as a 'shrew' - a name, in the Patriarchal society, used to indicate a domineering, sharp-tongued woman or those who resist the assumed authority of their husbands. Not only is the freedom that Kat acquires in the film is particularly significant, but the degree that she submits and conforms is also relevant. In the Taming, Katherina was tamed "...from a wild Kate to a Kate Conformable as other household Kates." ...read more.

Conclusion

Petruchio's domestication of Katherina and use of the 'falconry' imagery reoccur throughout the play. She is constantly referred to as a wild animal, where Petruchio as the tamer, calls her a "falcon". The perceptions of the roles of men and women have changed since the 16th century. Women were like falcons who were to be controlled and tamed by the falconer, men, where the audience would find this relevant and agreeable. The medium of production was adapted to the context of the times, appealing to the intended audiences. Although Taming of the Shrew was originally written as a theatrical play, Gil Junger produced 10 Things I Hate About You as a film, reflecting the change in values of entertainment. Using film as a medium of delivering his appropriation, with the advanced visual features that can be created, is able to use features of the story in different ways that were once restricted by the simplicity of the Elizabethan stage theatre. Scenes of greater action are more attractive to modern audiences, especially adolescents - the targeted audience of the film. The context of the time and the audience determines the values and themes that a text addresses. 10 Things I Hate About You alters the issues that are not relevant today, from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew to something that is appropriate to satisfy the levels of expectations of a film's suitability to modern 20th century. Word Count: 1348 ...read more.

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