“The Taming of the Shrew” and “Kiss me, Kate” Essay

“The Taming of the Shrew” and “Kiss me, Kate” movies comparison:

“The Taming of the Shrew” was written by a popular English author William Shakespeare in about 1592. The play was written in the form of the comedy, and its aim was to illustrate the unfair and ridiculous customs of that time. The main characters in the play are Katharina and Petruchio. Both characters are strong individuals with their own views on life and the ways of expressing their emotions.

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Before the paths of two young people have crossed, Petruchio was never thinking seriously about finding a right person to marry and create a family. All he cared about is how to make a lot of money and become wealthy and influential. He came to a conclusion that marrying a daughter of a wealthy man would be a solution and would bring him the desired position in the society.

While Petruchio was obsessed with an idea of finding a rich wife in order to become wealthy, Katharina seemed to have a different view on the marriage and the right person for her. While fighting with her father and sister and pretending to be a tough woman who is hard to get on with, like every other woman she dreamed of a strong husband, who would love and protect her from the outer world, which she did not seem to like.

Katharina was jealous of her sister, Bianca, who was getting a lot of attention from the young men. However, the father of the young women did not want to break the custom and let the younger daughter marry before the older one. Katharina felt angry and ashamed of not being able to find a right man to marry and expressed her anger through attacking her younger sister and everyone else who was around her.

Katharina also felt her father loved Bianca more than her:

[..] now I see
She is your treasure, she must have a husband;
I must dance bare-foot on her wedding day
And for your love to her lead apes in hell.

Because of not being able to get married she felt as if she is letting her family down, and they no longer love or care about her. Katharina’s aggressive behavior scares her family and other people living in the town and pushes everyone away from her, which makes the whole situation even worse.

Petruchio decides to meet Katharina and make her his wife, because he hears that her father is a wealthy man and is ready to give a part of his possessions to Katharina’s husband. Since he does not care who his wife will be and how she looks, he decides to marry Katharina without seeing her and comes to the house of Baptista, Katharina and Bianca’s father.

A movie ‘The Taming of Shrew’ was made based on the play of William Shakespeare by Franco Zeffirelli in 1967. The musical ‘Kiss me, Kate”, which was first written in 1953 by George Sidney, is another version of the Shakespeare play, where, according to scenario, Katharina and Petruchio were played by the divorced actors, Fred and Lilli. The text of both movie and the musical was taken from the original work of William Shakespeare.

Even though, both movies are based on the play ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, certain scenes differ in the way they were performed in each work.

The scene where Petruchio comes to Katharina to tell her she is going to marry him in the movie ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is slightly different from the one that is in the musical ‘Kiss me, Kate’. Mainly, it is because the musical ‘Kiss me, Kate’ initially has a different story line. In the musical Fred and Lilli, who have to play Petruchio and Katharina in the upcoming theatrical performance, are the divorced actors. Their relationship is complicated, and they are not yet completely sure about their feelings toward each other. This affects their performance on stage and makes it more of a comedy than a movie ‘The Taming of Shrew’.

The similarity that both movies have is the negative attitude of Katharina toward Petruchio and Petruchio’s unbreakable self-confidence and the assurance of his success in this matter. In ‘Kiss me, Kate’ Fred and Lilli have talked before the performance about their feelings, both of them were sure that they are not over each other and want to give each other a second chance. However during the scene, where Petruchio meets Katharina, Lilli suddenly finds out that the flowers that she thought Fred has sent to her before the performance were meant to be given to somebody else.

This fact helps actress to express Katharina’s feelings in more natural and convincing way. However, the situation between Fred and Lilli distracts watchers’ attention from the original Shakespeare’s scene between Petruchio and Katharina and shifts all the attention to the scandal between a divorced couple. This makes the musical a little different from the original work, since there are other emotions involved in it. There are two different situations in the musical ‘Kiss me, Kate’, which are skillfully combined, but have nothing to do with each other.

The emotions are very strong in this scene in both movies. Two strong individuals with their own views on how they should live this live have met like two flames of fire. Petruchio is very optimistic concerning the upcoming meeting:
[…] I am as peremptory as she proud-minded;
And where two raging fires meet together
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury.

In the movie ‘The Taming of Shrew’ the emotions of both Katharina and Petruchio are clearly shown in this scene. The minute Petruchio enters Katharina’s room, she looks at him with an interest and calms down for a while. Subconsciously she feels that a man with a strong will is standing in front of her. Suddenly, she is not the only aggressive person in the house, and the person who might be even more aggressive and emotional than her claims that she will become his wife.

For a second she feels weak, but after some time she remembers that she has to play a tough woman who does not need anyone and who is hard to get. But since Petruchio came to her house with one aim- to make her his wife, he would not give up. The arguing and fighting between two young people finally make Katharina loose her strength and cry. Unlike with her sister and father, she feels weak and helpless with this man. Despite the anger she feels toward Petruchio, something inside of her is ready to give up and accept his victory. When Petruchio announces to her father that they are getting married on Sunday and that she is madly in love with him, she does not say a word.

[…] I tell you, ’tis incredible to believe
How much she loves me: O, the kindest Kate!
She hung about my neck; and kiss on kiss
She vied so fast, protesting oath on oath,
That in a twink she won me to her love.

The scene of Petruchio and Katharina’s meeting is emotionally stronger in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ than in ‘Kiss me, Kate’. Even though the play by a William Shakespeare was meant to be a comedy, in the movie there is a lot of action and the emotions are very strong. When watching ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, despite of all the funny and absurd moments, there is a strong feeling of how it is important for a person to know who she is and what she wants from life.

Even though Katharina felt weak next to Petruchio from the very first moment he entered her room, she did not let him treat her as if he can decide for both of them whether she will be his wife or not. She has shown him that in their relationship she will not be the one who will “bear”, even though, he tried to prove her wrong:

Women are made to bear, and so are you.

Generally, “The Taming of the Shrew” is a deep movie, as well as the original play, which illustrate how different circumstances make people behave in a certain way and how it is important to stay true to oneself when something unexpected happens. On the other hand, it also shows that sometimes it is necessary to put away the old habits and go for something new in order to change the things that a person feels uncomfortable with.

“Kiss me, Kate” has an interesting and entertaining story line; however, it does not have as deep meaning as “The Taming of the Shrew”, and the scene where Katharina meets Petruchio proves it. The aim of this musical is to make people laugh and show the absurd situation Fred and Lilli have ended up in. In the above mentioned scene, the emotions of the main characters are based on other circumstances, and it makes the watchers to forget about the real reason of the Katharina’s aggressive attitude toward Petruchio.

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