Bean, Sabine, and What's in Between

Bean, Sabine, and what’s in between

Comparing “Taming of the Shrew” to “Mr. Bean’s Holiday”

“Taming of the Shrew” is a play about the drama that is going on behind the wedding of two daughters, Katherine the eldest, and Bianca the youngest. It presents the ideas that romance was once much more exuberant than it is today, and that the heart was something to be conquered. “Shrew’s” characters Lucentio, Petruchio, and Hortensio, all went to far ends in attempt to get what it is that they desired. Similarly, In “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” Mr. Bean is a character who embarks on a quest to reach his vacation place: Cannes’ beach.

The journey that Mr. Bean takes, somewhat resembles the trend that Lucentio had in “Shrew.” When he was going to the city, his intentions were to study philosophy, just as how Mr. Bean’s intentions were to have a vacation at the beach. However, in “Shrew” Lucentio finds himself to have postponed his plan out of the love for another woman, just like how Mr. Bean ended up accompanying Sabine. Sabine is another character in Mr. Bean’s holiday who is a french actress that participates in the Cannes film festival. They run into each other when they both attempt to go to Cannes.

In general, the movie shares a rather humorous connection with “Shrew.” It can be observed in the entire structure of the story. Both are presented in a way that serves as a comedy, and one of the things that makes “Shrew” appeal to the audience’s humor is the disguise factor that the characters undergo. Mr. Bean disguises himself as multiple characters to gain some form of profit in his quest to reach the beach, and later on, reach Sabine. In “Shrew,” the characters who intend to court Bianca dress up as other people to acquire a better advantage.

We live at a time where the romantic idea of lovers is at a blunt intersection with the realist, less poetic, but more systematic reasoning of psychology. “Shrew” takes place at a time where many modern social values, such as equality, haven’t been developed yet. The action of “taming” a bride was considered the norm and while many lords would disguise their actions through metaphors of love, the idea of romantic love has always remained as an illusion to hide lust. However, looking at the present society, we can see that values are being altered, where now the “taming” is being brushed aside, still present but hard to find. In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, there is a depiction of love at first sight, however the characters do not seek official titles or affirmations. Instead, they wish to learn more about one another and remain curious as to what adventures can be shared. In this sense, modern love has become perhaps less romantic but more harmonious.


“Such wind as scatters young men through the world To seek their fortunes farther than at home, Where small experience grows. But in a few, Signior Hortensio, thus it stands with me: Antonio, my father, is deceased, And I have thrust myself into this maze, Happily to wive and thrive, as best I may. Crowns in my purse I have and goods at home, And so am come abroad to see the world."

(Act 1, Scene 2, line 51)

Petruchio is a newly arrived character in Padua. Upon his arrival, he was told about Katherine and how it might be beneficial for him to woo her. Petruchio ageres to start a campaign for Katherine and to assist his other friends with their disguises and their quest to woo Bianca.  In this quote, Petruchio that is talking about his mission to acquire a bride and to live on life well since the death of his father. In other words; to set forth onto conquering his desires. This shows how back in the day: society’s love was this journey that the man would set forth to acquire out of a lustful desire (“ seek their fortunes farther rather than at home…”) that is then labeled as romance (“Such wind scatters young men through the world… And I have thrust myself into this maze… And so am come abroad to see the world”).

Mr. Bean’s holiday follows a similar pattern, except, it is completely inverted. Rather than someone who is lead by lust disguised as romance, it is someone lead by romance which is disguised as lust.

In this rather awkward instant, both of Mr. Bean’s travelling partners have fallen asleep, and he attempting to grab control of the car to avoid crashing. Sabine (right) is the movie actress that offered to assist Mr. Bean when he was stranded without a method of transportation. Behind them is a boy who Mr. Bean accidentally separated from his father in an accident at a train station; where the father did not make it in time on the train. Sabine currently thinks that Mr. Bean is the boy's father, as that was what she was told, however she has been deceived because she does not know that Mr. Bean and the boy are both wanted by the police due to a misunderstanding where officials believe Mr. Bean kidnapped the boy.

Mr. Bean and Sabine are both headed to Cannes but for two completely different reasons. Sabine wishes to attend a film festival that she’s starring in whereas Mr. Bean is simply trying to enjoy a vacation. The specific scene is packed with symbolism which can be directly tied to the events that are happening in “Shrew.” In this case the car they are in could be representative of society and its absent driver is the direction in which its standards are freely roaming. Mr. Bean, like Petruchio, is making a choice to take control of his life and the way the world expects him to act. However, while Petruchio is surfing this wave of societal standards and shooting forward with its gained momentum, Mr. Bean is actually acting against it; remaining true to himself. This can be represented by Bean’s struggle with the steering wheel.

The situation becomes much more interesting when observing the interaction which characters in the scene have with one another. In “Shrew,” Petruchio is speaking to Hortensio in regards to a conversation about their future plans to conquer two different women (see quote above). It is a direct conversation that two characters are having which is motivated by the lustful profit of having a wife. They mention the ends to which they would go to in order to acquire what they desire, but they make a clear effort to disguise all their feelings with metaphors, thereby alluding to the idea of false romance. This is extremely different to the scene in the movie.

In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, there are three people in a car in the middle of the night who all come from different places and have different lives, but together they are united with a single spirit to reach a common destination out of their own personal motives that tap into deep levels of their own personal values. Sabine is on a quest to finally be respected as an individual actor, the boy is in search of his lost father, and Mr. Bean is looking for happiness. They do not know one another well, but together they remain bound by a sense which they believe is necessity. However, the fact that they believe that they are in need of what it is that they seek makes it so that it actually creates the opposite effect. They believe that they are doing what they do out of a functional cause, without noticing the deeper more harmonious meaning that links them together.


"A vengeance on your crafty withered hide!-- Yet I have faced it with a card of ten. ‘Tis in my head to do my master good. I see no reason but supposed Lucentio Must get a father, called “supposed Vincentio”-- And that’s a wonder. Fathers commonly Do get their children. But in this case of wooing,

A child shall get a sire, if I fail not of my cunning."

(Act 2, Scene 1, line 428)

This is during a bidding war that Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) has against another suitor called Gremio. They both are seeking to impress the father of Bianca as to have her hand in marriage. The reason why Tranio is disguised as Lucentio, his master, is because Lucentio wanted to disguise himself to be closer to the woman that everyone is seeking: Bianca. Therefore, he assigned Tranio, his servant, to take his place while he is disguised. In this quote, Traino realizes that for his master to marry, there needed to be a fatherly figure that approved of Lucentio’s marrige and provided economic stability. This really highlights the “business” aspect of how relationships in the past were, but it also shows the ends on which individuals would go for their romantic ideals. All this is different from Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

The quote is reflective not just of a specific moment in the movie, but rather reflects the whole trend of the plot. The movie is split into three different sections, beginning, middle, and end, where Mr. Bean at some point equips a disguise that he uses to advance his position in reaching the desired goal. The disguises are in order of time that they were introduced and each one contributed a unique benefit.

Unlike how in “Shrew” the characters who disguised themselves always did so for the sake of their own profit, (where their intentions always showed a connection to how romance in the olden days was more of a business,) Mr. Bean throughout the story shows evidence of having done the exact opposite. The three pictures show an almost perfect plot line where Mr. Bean goes from self-profiting strategies, all the way to taking on an entire strategy for the profit of someone else. In the first image Mr. Bean is disguised in order to have a better chance at getting paid by the people around him so that he can acquire food and a bus ticket to go to Cannes. That’s obviously self-profiting reason for a disguise. In the second image, Mr. Bean is disguised for the combined interest of helping himself, but also helping the movie production that Sabine is a part of. Finally, in the last image Mr. Bean actually put on the disguise because Sabine told him to do so. This is because he needs to babysit the boy but also because it helps Sabine not get stopped by the police.

The interaction and relationship which Mr. Bean has here is completely different from the one which characters in “Shrew” have among themselves. Here Mr. Bean goes through a complete transformation as he spends more time with the people around him. Towards the very end of the movie we can see that Mr. Bean is capable of taking on extensive strategies of advancement for just the benefit of the friends around him. This proves how the relationships in modern times are less about profit and more about ideas of companionship and general goodwill. It makes things lighter when thought about, and thereby providing a potential for more harmonious relationships.

“The Taming of the Shrew” is a play that tells much about the ideas of courtship back in the day. It was proved on multiple instances how the characters in the story all wanted to gain some sort of profit. The very same profit was the reason for why they went such extensive ways such as sabotaging an entire study on philosophy or taking on a disguise. It showed how before, people would disguise their actions through metaphors of love. In the time of “Shrew” the idea of romantic love has always remained as an illusion to hide lust. However, in “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” this was different on many occasions of the movie. Throughout, there was a clear trend that linked romantic love to a sense of companionship. When comparing the two pieces together, it can be noted that Mr. Bean’s motives were less business-like and more connected with the people around him. In this sense, modern love has become perhaps less “romantic,” (romantic as in: illusive,) but more harmonious.

Work cited:

Shakespeare “The Taming of the Shrew”

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Comments (1)

Pablo Salvatierra (Student 2018)
Pablo Salvatierra

This paper is really in depth, and I find it interesting that you decided to go into symbolism at times in the analysis of the movie. I commend you for using a comedic piece, albeit one from the total other of the spectrum of comedy. Finding romantic allusions at all from Mr. Bean is difficult to say the best, but I think you definitely managed to find meaning in his comedy.