I'm participating in A Shakespearean Summer, a challenge hosted by Liv of Liv's Book Reviews. For this challenge, you read three of Shakespeare's plays and post about them. I love Shakespeare and I'm thrilled to be participating. So for my first play, I reread The Taming of the Shrew.
Summary: The Taming of the Shrew is framed by the story of a Lord who tricks the drunken Sly into believing he is a nobleman. The Lord proceeds to have a play enacted out for Sly, and it is this play that most people recognize. The Taming of the Shrew centers around four individuals: Katherina Minola, her younger sister Bianca, Petruchio Guicciardini and Lucentio della Rovere. Bianca, with her many suitors, is frustrated as she is not permitted to marry until her elder sister does. However, with Katherina’s insolence and temper, this shrew frightens off any man who dares to get to close. In the meanwhile, Lucentio and Petruchio arrive in Padua. In order to compete with Bianca’s other suitors, Lucentio disguises himself as her tutor in order to get close to her. At the same time, Petruchio, aware of Katherina’s wealth and reputation, sets forth to marry her, return her to his home, and ultimately, tame this shrew.
My thoughts: There's something weird about reviewing a Shakepeare play (maybe it's all those analytical English lit courses), so instead I'll just say what I think about this play. This is one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies, mainly for the witty banter. Plus, in my personal opinion, Grumio (Petruchio’s servant) is one of the funniest characters in any of Shakespeare’s plays. The ending, of course, is controversial. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think it’s pretty well-known (or at least predictable) that Katherina is tamed by the end of the play. I don’t read The Taming of the Shrew as a completely anti-feminist work (trust me, if I thought that was how this play should be interpreted, I wouldn’t like it). Instead, I think the taming and Katherina’s speech can’t be taken at face value, but rather read in a Shakespeare’s-bringing-an-issue-to-the-table and Katherina’s-speech-is-tongue-in-cheek sort of way. But that’s just my take, of course. Anyway, as far as Shakespeare goes, I found this play easier to understand, and all of the plotting and messing around with identity is very entertaining.
- Kiss Me Kate – This Cole Porter musical has an interior play that’s a musical version of Taming of the Shrew. Great music and lots of witty banter. You can see it on stage and there’s also an OK video version.
- 10 Things I Hate About You – Teen romantic comedy featuring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles set in high school. Full of other Shakespeare references (including his sonnets, Macbeth, and more). I love it because it’s part of a golden age of teen movies (gotta love the 90’s). The new TV series, though, you should avoid.
- Deliver Us From Eva – A modern, urban adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew with LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union. It’s pretty awful, but I’ll admit that sometimes I love those movies that are so bad they’re almost good (well, at least good in the entertaining because you can poke fun sense).