Deception vs Truth

Comparing "Taming of the Shrew" to “Moonstruck”

     In the movie Moonstruck the main character Loretta, a strong willed widow decides to remarry a man named Johnny. She does not have feelings for Johnny, but believes settling is her only option. In the process she undertakes the responsibility of convincing Johnny’s younger brother Ronny to attend their wedding despite their bad blood. Loretta tracks him down to find a deeply angered, melodramatic and evasive man. He speaks what he feels, leaving no room for interpretation. This makes an impression on Loretta as she attempts to evade his temper. Loretta sees that he expects consternation out of her and gives him the exact opposite. When Ronny goes on an emotional tirade she shuts it down and he listens. Her authoritative behavior captures Ronny's attention because he's never experienced a combative response to his aggressiveness. Quickly Ronny develops an attraction to Loretta despite her being engaged to his brother. In the Shakespearean play The Taming of the Shrew a peculiar man named Petruchio takes on the task of domesticating a beautiful yet irascible woman named Katherine. She can’t seem to find a husband because of her erratic personality, but Petruchio believes he can change her. Although Petruchio purposely practices manipulation and reverse psychology to force to Katherine comply with his demands rather than using honesty to develop trust,  Loretta and Petruchio both find their way into Ronny and Katherine's hearts using a similar method.

“Say that she frown; I'll say she looks as clear

As morning roses newly wash'd with dew.

Say she be mute, and will not speak a word;

Then I'll commend her volubility--” Act II, Scene 1

     Instead of insulting Katherine's demeanor, when the two first meet Petruchio compliments and dotes on her to create the illusion that he truly cares and loves her. Katherine shows an interest in the way he handles her bitterness, but does not fall docile to this act. She immediately takes note of his odd mannerisms, but does not fully comprehend what he has in store. By tricking, Katherine’s father, Baptista, Petruchio convinces everyone that Katherine is in love with him and that her temperamental actions towards him were merely a form of banter. Katherine marries him against her will and is subjected to a series of tests Petruchio constructs to make her delusional and susceptible false kindness and manipulation. He comes up with elaborate ridiculous excuses for her not to eat such as the possibility that eating may worsen her mood, or the food is not fit to consume. During the night he does not allow her to sleep. After a few days of this torture Kate’s resilience dissipates, her judgement is warped and agreeing with Petruchio’s fabrications of lies proves to be much easier than trying to fight back.

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    In Moonstruck Loretta does not aim to forge a romantic relationship with Ronny. In fact she has no idea that her outlook has any effect on Ronny’s psyche. Loretta unleashes uncompromising truth when Ronny continues to pity himself for the unfortunate events in his life. She shows sympathy, but also perceives a majority of the unhappiness he feels is his own doing. Establishing herself as someone Ronny cannot just step on she successfully motivates Ronny to look at his life from a different perspective. Much like Katherine when she first meets Petruchio, Ronny acts repealed by Loretta’s personality, but cannot hide his curiosity for someone so different than everyone else. Loretta is the only person who dared to be straightforward. Petruchio is the only man who was sharp enough to keep up an arguement with Katherine.

“My mind hath been as big as one of yours,

My heart as great, my reason haply more,

To bandy word for word and frown for frown.

But now I see our lances are but straws,

Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,

That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.

Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,

And place your hands below your husband's foot,

In token of which duty, if he please--”

(Act 5, Scene 2)

In this last scene from The Taming of the Shrew Katherine recites a monologue about the duty of women to their husbands. It appears as if the inclination to resist Petruchio’s demands has disappeared entirely. She stand before a group of three other men’s wives and shames them for disobeying their husbands commands. The events leading up to her evolvement into a submissive housewife consist of the same methods Petruchio contrived being repeated, but in the end Kate does believe she loves him. Somewhere down the line an attraction was produced between the two and Katherine’s disposition seems to completely change. She sounds brainwashed by Petruchio’s expectations and willingly recites that the purpose for all woman’s existence is to tend to their partners needs and nothing else. In Petruchio's opinion changing her for the better.

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    Loretta and Ronny’s relationship progresses rapidly. As the become more intimate Loretta expresses her apprehension about cheating on her fiance. After Ronny claims he is love with her she refuses to take their affair any farther. Ronny opens up to Loretta advice and tries to show a side of himself she hasn’t seen. In this scene Ronny takes Loretta to the opera in a last effort to win her over by sharing something he cares about rather than arguing with her. By conveying his emotions without anger Ronny is demonstrating to Loretta that he can be the person she wants him to be.

     In society there is an expectation for people in relationships to change for their partners to become the ideal version of themselves. Both of these relationships end happily, but in each of these instances the partners of the more controlling person had to change in order to stay together. It is presented as a norm to alter each other's socially deemed personalities flaws and traits despite the humanity and depth it removes from a person. Society idealizes perfection by means of simplicity, guilting people for being anything different from what is expected. Attaching a negative connotation on to any behavior that isn’t considered agreeable, ordinary or easy to deal with.

Work Cited:

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Moonstruck by Norman Jewison

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