The topic in this year’s festival is intertextuality between different texts. Intertextuality allows us to draw on existing ideas to create interesting new works and these texts are strongly influenced by society and culture. Shakespeare’s plays are some of the most well-known and adapted texts. His play Taming of the Shrew written in 1590 was adapted in 1999 into the film directed by Gil Junger, 10 Things I Hate About You. In adapting Taming of the Shrew into a modern context, Junger brings new meaning to Shakespeare’s classics and communicates Shakespeare’s key concerns for a modern audience. Most people would say why is Shakespeare so important? He isn’t part of our society now so why is he still relevant? The Taming of the Shrew goes on living because it has, in the first place, that necessary quality of all good drama, a delight in vigorous events subjected to the discipline of a coherent, well organised, and significant plot. 10 Things I Hate About You is still relevant to today’s society because it defies rom-com conventions by giving a misfit female lead a happy ending, without requiring her to shove herself into a conventional mold. In 2019, when so much of the cultural conversation is about accepting people the way they are, Shakespeare’s work takes on more relevance.
In Taming of the Shrew, the characters are both similar between the hypo and hypertext. Some of the character names are similar and some have completely been replaced. For example, Katherine has changed to Kat, Petruchio to Patrick, Bianca has stayed the same between both, and Lucentio has changed to Cameron. The character’s personality has stayed the same, so the audience is still able to identify who is who. Lucentio and Cameron are both tutors to their versions of Bianca. Although in taming of the shrew it’s a lot more complicated than it is in the film. The last names of some characters have also changed. In Taming of the Shrew, Katherine’s surname is Minola and has been changed to Stratford, and Petruchio’s surname is not stated in the text but in the film, Patrick’s last name is Verona. His surname in the film comes from the birthplace of where Petruchio was born. And then there are these two – Hortensio and Joey. Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew is an honest, kind character who wants to get closer to Bianca because he really likes her. Joey in 10 Things I hate About You is a self-centered boy who only wants Bianca for the challenge of getting her and isn’t in love with her. The difference between these two characters are significant because Hortensio isn’t a character that many people can relate to, but people can relate to the Joey character which is the ‘high school jerk’.
The Taming of the Shrew begins with an introduction or a framing device. In the first scene a nobleman finds the beggar, Christopher Sly, passed out at an alehouse and decided to play a practical joke on him. He orders his men to have Sly bathed, groomed, and dressed as a mighty lord, then carried to the finest bedroom in the lord’s manor. When Sly wakes up, the servants convince him that he is actually a nobleman and that his previous life of poverty was a delusional dream. Sly then settles down to watch a play, The Taming of the Shrew. The wealthy merchant Baptisa, who resides in Padua, Italy, has two beautiful daughters, Katherine and Bianca. The younger of the two, Bianca, is a sweet and kind girl while the older, Katherine is ill-tempered. Baptisa decides that Katherine must marry before Bianca and he is well aware that no man is interested in a ‘shrew’ but stands firm in his decision. Meanwhile, a suitable, rich young man, Lucentio and his servant, Tranio, arrive in Padua. Lucentio falls in love with Bianca but he soon realises that he can’t marry her until Katherine gets married. So, what does Lucentio do? He pretends to be a tutor, while his servant pretends to be Lucentio. Now while that is happening, two other men that have also fallen in love with Bianca, have come up with a plan to find someone that will marry Katherine. Lucky them because one of the two men’s friends, Petruchio arrives in Padua looking for a wife. Petruchio marries Katherine and manages to ‘tame’ her much to the surprise of everybody else.
A plot summary of 10 things I Hate About You is that popular, pretty Bianca Stratford is in a dilemma. A family rule forbids her from dating until her popular, rebellious, boy-hating older sister Kat does. In an attempt to win Bianca, potential boyfriend Joey desperately attempts to set Kat up with Patrick Verona, another rebel who may be able to win her heart.
The setting of both of these texts is called Padua. In the play it is Padua, Italy and in the film, it is Padua High School. The taming of the shrew was written in 1590 so the time period was probably around the Italian renaissance which was the 14th to the 17th century. 10 Things I Hate About You was released in 1999 and it is set in a 90’s American high school. The audience call tell that it is set in the ’90s because of the costumes and backgrounds like the hip-hugger jeans and tank tops of the period.
The language has been substituted to modern English instead of keeping it as Shakespearean so it’s easier for a modern audience to understand and for the message to get across clearly. By changing the language, it also changes the target audience. The target audience for the film is now teenagers around 14-18-years old. So, you might be wondering how did Petruchio manage to tame this unruly hot-headed shrew? Well, Petruchio used many different techniques to achieve his desired outcome which included refusing her clothes and food and not letting her get any sleep. Petruchio, in an attempt to add validity to his actions, claims in the text that his goal to transform Katherine and to make sure that she is only getting the best. Act 4 scene 1 shows Petruchio talking about how he is getting Katherine to do what he wants. This is obviously a problem in today’s society and couldn’t be reproduced in the film.
The inequality of genders that has remained a constant value within any society, until the large-scale feminist movement began in the 1800s, is a commonly explored theme in literature and heavily impacted on several aspects of life, i.e. roles within the home, literature, art , politics, and overall the opportunities available to women. The Taming of the Shrew is no exception to this. Shakespeare explores the gender conventions of his time through characterisation and plot development, mainly portraying women in a negative and defenseless role. One exception to this is Katherine, the female lead in Taming of the Shrew. Initially in the play, Katherine has a sharp tongue and has a dominating persona that she uses to hide her insecurities, but as the play evolves, Shakespeare develops the character of Katherine. The male lead, Petruchio appears to have “tamed the shrew” by revealing Katherine’s true self and maintains the dominating male role in the relationship. At the end of the first scene in act 5, Katherine, under pressure from Petruchio, kisses him and says “Nay, I will give thee a kiss. Now pray thee, love stay”. At this point in the play, Katherine has finally accepted her natural role as wife; hostility, petulance, and recalcitrance have been replaced by affection, good humour, and partnership. Katherine and Petruchio’s alliance are sealed by the longest and most eloquent speech in the entire comedy, Katherine’s proclamation of the submission of wife to husband as a law of nature, something essential to the harmonious working of their universe, and therefore to be accepted gladly and not rebelled against begrudgingly.
The part of the monologue where Katherine says “And place your hands below your husband’s foot”, is a reference to a traditional act of allegiance, but the basic idea is clearly set out in the homily entitled ‘Of the State of Matrimony’, where wives are advised to submit to their husbands in respect of the commandment of God, as St Paul expresses it in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord; for the husband is the head of the woman, as Christ is the head of the church”. There was a lot of social pressure placed upon women in the 16th century and the taming of the shrew shows what happened to women that disobeyed their masters and decided that they wanted to have a life of their own. The 16th century is the same time period that the witch burnings happened. A quote from the book ‘The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth’ says that “The whole secular ‘Enlightenment’ in fact, the male professions of doctor, lawyer, judge, artist, all rose from the ashes of the destroyed women’s culture. Renaissance men were celebrating naked female beauty in their art, while women’s bodies were being tortured and burned by the hundreds of thousands all around them”.
In this film, women, particularly Kat, have power and are allowed to be opinionated and ‘disobey’ the men. Kat’s speech is about her acceptance of Patrick’s dishonesty and she forgives him. One of Kat’s lines “in this society, being a male and an asshole makes you worthy of our time” is a statement that still rings true today. In this statement, Kat uses sarcasm to get across her point of how the whole of society gives all their attention and glorifies the action of all men. Through these two snippets of text that is on the screen, it is apparent that the role of women in today’s society and the effect of feminism on women is that it “is impolite to be a feminist. That calling other people out for their sexist tendencies is rude and disrespectful”, -that means being sexist is still an acceptable way to act. Kat does call people out for it and receives the slurs that inevitably come with it but that doesn’t change who she is and what she stands up for.
In recognising and understanding intertextuality we are then presented with a richer reading or theatrical experience. New interpretations and contexts are viewed which can also be applied to contemporary literature and film. Drawing from our own knowledge and experiences we are able to see ourselves in these modern interpreted roles and consider our culture and society of today compared to the times of the original writings. Intertextuality works perfectly with Shakespeare.