I always have considered myself a harsh critic of literature, unafraid of stating a book as either loved or hated, and with all of these statements I...moreI always have considered myself a harsh critic of literature, unafraid of stating a book as either loved or hated, and with all of these statements I stay true to them, my opinion rarely wavering. Like all adults who use and abuse Shakespear until I'd rather be sick than read another one of his works, my high-school english teacher was no different. She threw massive amounts of him at us constantly, tossing away any comment made about his unoriginality or sexism. Though, surprisingly enough, I don't despise Shakespear... There are a few of his plays that I've rather liked even, and I didn't mind reading him as much as some of the other students did. But The Taming of the Shrew? An entirely different matter, of course.
There has never been a book/play I've hated more than this. Clever comedy? No. Sexist poop? Why, I think yes...even if that may sound a bit less than mature. After reading works of his such as Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing, I figured Shakespear was a bit ahead of his time when it came to strong women; I could appreciate the female characters in his writings, and so forth, so when I first saw The Taming of the Shrew on stage, at around age thirteen, my small feminist mind was appalled and horrified, and all respect I had had for the writer was officially wiped from existance. So two-ish years later when my teacher announced we'd be reading him in class, I was instantly ill at the prospect. I didn't want to have to go through all the "Make me a sandwhich jokes" of the boys, and have to put the girls (whether I liked them or not) through the same mortification I had been put through...but no amount of whining would sway her. She was dead-set on it, as sure as every other english teacher that Shakespear was utterly perfect, and the sexism in it? Well, that was exusable because...it's Shakespear.
Not at all.
Katherine was an interesting character, the plot for the play oozing wit as any battle-of-the-sexes tends to do. Petruchio (if I got his name right) was even an intriguing person in himself, while unlikable at the same time. I would have enjoyed the subject matter and thoroughly enjoyed the play had he not written the ending the way he had. I think it would have been more clever, more realistic, and more...well, likable had he made it so Katherine had never been 'tamed', that Katherine had held to her own, fiesty ways, or at least moved down to an equal with Pet, rather than become a completely subservient, obediant wife. Oh, and I forgot to say...spoilers... Had Shakespear ended it the right way, I would never have hated this, or suffered in english class.
Call me a raving feminist, whatever. If there had been a play written in an opposite format where it had been a man a woman was trying to tame; it wouldn't have ended the way this did, and it wouldn't have been taught famously in high-schools everywhere, no matter how witty it was. So why is it okay to teach this? I'm not at all for cencorship, but I merely don't see the point in picking this exact comedy, when I would have much rather been taught a different one...and a more, tasteful one at that. I'm sure everyone is hating this reveiw already, and blah blah blah, but I honestly don't care. My passionate hate for this will never be able to be ended in words.
Some argue that in the end Katherine was still the dominant one, just finding a different tactic to get her way by pretending obedience, while in the end she was still the fiest 'shrew' I HAD loved. Others say since it was written so long ago, in a time when this was usual, that the sexism was understandable, etc. Is it ever understable? Had it been a play about slavery condoning it, it wouldn't be considered understadable nowadays...Why this!?
There is no way you can go about the last monoglue Katherine gives after Pet proves her obediance in a wager. That's not the sort of thing you say just because she finally love and understand a man(read a couple of reveiws saying that), and if you do say that to your husband/boyfriend, well, then you are putting yourself in that sexist position. If he had said the same thing back to her, that's one thing, but this entire play was based around Katherine being unlike other submissive women, and that somehow being bad, so she is 'tamed' into that very role. Is this a good lesson to be taught...at all? It's showing that that's all womens place and it just takes a man to come along and dominate them to teach them this. This is pure sexism, and though it is a comedy and meant to be witty and exagerated, I still find that had she kept her indipendence, I would have much preferred the play, and it would have still kept to its comedic value.
Anyway, this long shpeel basically says: my reputation and liking of Shakespear has been forever tainted from this, and once again it all rests on the ending of the book/play to hold my ultimate opinion of it...and this ending was aweful. (less)