Darlenny Rodriguez Visual Essay

Taming of the Plastics

A compare and contrast of the play “Taming of the Shrew” and the movie “Mean Girls”

Romantic relationships are by far the most difficult to comprehend, despite the time period or parties involved. The play “Taming of the Shrew” and film “Mean Girls”  sheds lights on these complexities. Mean girls follows an extremely mathematically gifted 17-year-old Cady Heron who after being homeschooled her entire life is about to start High School. There she meets three “it” girls named the Plastics whom Cady grows fund of, ultimately mimicking their behavior to gain the attention of one Aaron Samuel. The play Taming of the Shrew follows newlywed Katherine and Petruchio, Petruchio only having married Katherine to receive the dowry from her father. Katherine is a very dominant personality, but so is Petruchio, but over time becomes more submissive to avoid confrontation.  Both the film and the play show this idea of women altering themselves to please a man. The difference in Mean Girls is that this concept is much more frowned upon because of how the idea has evolved.

Petruchio: [to servants.] Go on, and fetch our horses back again.-

Evermore crossed and crossed, nothing but crossed!

Hortensio ,[to Katherine]: Say as he says, or we shall never go.

Katherine: Forward, I pray , since we have come so far, And be it moon, or sun, or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush candle”

(Act 4, Scene 5, Line 9-17)

While on their way to Baptista Minola's house in Padua, Petruchio notes that the moon shines brightly, despite it being midday. Katherine tries to argue this claim, but when Petruchio threatens to turn around and go home, she agrees with him to prevent an argument. She is usually more opinionated and strong willed, being referred to as “fiend of hell” by characters in the play. However, to avoid a bigger issue with her husband, she agrees with his thoughtless comment.

This is much like the math class scene in Mean Girls.

(Screenshot, 0:40:17)

In this scene, Cady has purposely failed a test. When all else attempts of getting Aaron Samuels’ attention fail, Cady has decided to step up her game. When asking for help won't suffice, an extremely keen-at-math Cady fails her math test so that she can request Aaron’s tutelage. This will give her a chance to spend more time with Aaron and relate to him better since he is not so math savy himself. Both Cady and Katherine were very different before meeting their significant other, but once meeting them they alter their personalities for them. Katherine to please her husband and Cady to grab Aarons attention.

“Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebe

(Act 5, Scene 2, Line 171- 175 )

This quote was apart of Katherine’s grand soliloquy life explanation of a wife's duty to her husband.  She compares husbands and wives to princes and subjects. She goes on to bow down to her Petruchio's feet and fondle them. This is the same Katherine who at the beginning of the novel smacked Petruchio across the face because of a disagreement they had. That smack showed her dominance, but this Katherine is much more submissive to her husband.

This is much like Cady who instead of changing her opinions, changes her physical appearance

(Screenshot, 56:11)

This is where Cady's big change appearance wise is highlighted. She is having a party at her house, where she has invited Aaron Samuels. In this scene she speaks about how Aaron is going to see her all dressed up instead of in the horrible halloween costume she wore in previous scenes in the movie. At the beginning of the film, Cady wore a “bride of frankenstein” costume to a high school halloween party Aaron invited her to but didn't get the memo that in the film,  halloween was an excuse for the women in the film to dress provocatively. Most of the girls showed up in one pieces and bunny ears, while Cady came dressed as the bride of Frankenstein blood and all. That scene really highlighted Candy's personality, while this scene highlights her transformation from bold Cady to trying to impress Aaron Cady. Much like the two distinct scenes about Katherine where she goes from smacking her husband because she disagreed with him to saying that wives are a husband's subject and are to do whatever to please them. The one common thing these two storylines have in common is the motives behind each characters metamorphosis, the men in their lives and their need to please them by altering themselves.

“For I will board  her, though she chide as loud

As thunder when the clouds in autumn crack”

(Act 1, Scene 2 ,Lines 96- 97)

After Hortensio and Gremio, two of Katherine’s sisters’ suitors, go on about Katherines shrew like ways, Petruchio proclaims that he can tame her. He says this as a way to impress the other, because to them the person who is able to change Katherine is manlier. Women changing to please men is praised in this era.

This is not the case in Mean Girls

(Screenshot, 50:13)

Cady has been pulled aside by her teacher after she notices she has been failing on purpose to woo Aaron Samuels. She tells her that women do not have to change themselves to please a man and that she shouldn’t dumb herself down for him either. Her view on this is much more disapprovin than that of the suitors towards Katherine changing for petruchio. Cady’s teacher views it as a negative thing that shouldn't be done because she thinks Cady should be herself and not change for a boy. Meanwhile, the suitors would praise Petruchio if Katherine were to become more submissive and subject-like. There is a difference as to how people view this concept because of how a female's role in a relationship has evolved through the years.

In the end, ultimately Cady ends up exiled from her friends who disapprove of her new personality and man pleasing ways. Which reinforced this concepts of how a woman changing herself for a guy is much more frowned upon than Katherine submitting to Petruchio. While this idea is still around because Cady had to dress much more provocatively to get Aaron's samuels to take a liking unto her and Katherine had to submit to make her marriage work. While both plot lines have its differences, the similarities are uncanny.