How Petruchio got his Groove Back

“Taming of the Shrew” and “How Stella got her Groove Back”

“Taming of the Shrew” is a Shakespearean romantic comedy about a man (Petruchio) who tries to force his wife (Katherine) into obedience after her and her sister are married off. The movie “How Stella got her Groove Back” follows Stella, a 40 year old divorced, workaholic mother who travels on vacation to Jamaica and meets a 20 year old native named Winston. They eventually fall in love, but find complications in their relationship because of the huge age difference.These stories may be from different backgrounds and time periods, but they are very alike. Over the centuries, love and marriage has proved to be about control rather than actually caring about each other and your differences. These texts show that, no matter what century the story is set in, people are more concerned about their own image than the feelings they have for another person. This results in someone trying to control the relationship in order to look good in front of their peers.

"That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter before I have a husband for the elder."

  • Baptista

(Act 1/ Sc. 1/ Pg 35)

This Scene shows Baptista trying to marry off his two daughter and explaining to the various suitors that the only way Bianca can be married is if his eldest daughter, Katherine, is married first. During shakespearian times (15-1600s) a woman’s purpose was to get married and have babies, so if a women doesn’t she is known as an “Old maid”. Baptista wants to Katherine to get married get married first so she doesn’t become one herself and have no source of income one he dies. Katherine must surrender her freedom to some random man in order live a “normal” life. If she doesn’t she will be left poor, judged, and labeled by the rest of society. Whatever relationship she is forced into, it will be about control, rather than love.

In this scene of How Stella got her Groove Back, Stella’s sisters are talking about her love life behind her back while at a spa. Stella walks into their conversation and and tells them she’s fine without dating. One of her sisters then responds with  She still needs a man in her life”, but Stella doesn’t actually need one. Stella is a rich, successful stock broker who can obviously take care of her son. There is no reason she “needs” a man  in her life other than the fact that it makes her look good. In many romantic comedies, dating and marriage is showed as an essential in life, so if you aren’t in a relationship there is something wrong with you. Like Taming of the Shrew the movie takes place in a society where it’s essential to be in a relationship. The difference between the two is that in “Shrew” people have to marry in order to distribute wealth while in “Stella” people are just accepted to be in a relationship because their life looks more stable. Either way both these women are judged if they have no man in their life.

“This is a way to kill a wife with kindness; And thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humour. He that knows better how to tame a shrew, Now let him speak: 'tis charity to show.”

  • Petruchio

(Act 4/ Sc. 1/)

In this scene Petruchio is explaining to the audience how he is going to tame his shrew wife, Katherine.  Petruchio wants to make Katherine an obidient wife so he can have control in the relationship. He has no intention of loving and caring for Katherine, he just wants people to see he has control over his wife. This shows he thinks of his wife nothing more than a status symbol because her obedience makes him look like a powerful man.

Stella and Winston get in a fight during dinner about their relationship after Winston insists on paying, but Stella says he doesn’t have enough money so she should pay. Winston then yells at her for trying to control him and the relationship. Stella then says that Winston is childish and she has to make all of the big decisions on her own. Winston says that’s because whenever he makes a decision she judges him for it. Like Petruchio, Stella has to control every aspect of the relationship in fear of being judged herself. For petruchio, it’s for being less of a man/husband, while Stella fears looking immature and “whorish”. If Stella’s in control, that means she can mold Winston into the perfect man everyone expects her to have.

“I am ashamed that women are so simple to offer war where they should kneel for peace; or seek for rule, supremacy and sway, when they are bound to serve, love and obey.”

  • Katherine (Act 5/ Sc. 2)

At the end of the Play, Katherine and Petruchio attend Bianca’s wedding where Petruchio ends up making a bet with the other men on whose wife is the most “obedient”. Each man tells their wife to come over to them, but Katherine is the only one who obeys. She then makes a big speech on how important it is to obey your husband. What stood out in this scene was how happy Petruchio was with Katherine's obedience and how they instantly fell in love after the speech. Before, Petruchio admitted to Katherine that he didn’t even care about her, but now that she’s “tamed” he’s finally in love with her. This is because her obedience made him look good in front his peers, who made fun of him before for having Katherine as a wife. Only when he’s in control does their relationship work out, but that’s just because Petruchio loves being respected, rather than being married to Katherine.

The final scene of how Stella got her groove back is a cliche airport scene, where one person stops another person from going on a plane to confess their love. This is of course after the discussion they had about Winston leaving for Med school and them breaking up because he proved to be too young for Stella. Before Winson can even walk into the airport Stella is already there looking for him. They then start to make out, and it is assumed that they get back together because the movie ends right there. Like “Taming of the Shrew”, this movie also has a very obscure ending, that goes against the rest of the movie. Most of story shows Stella and Winston fighting over age and who's in control, but it’s all resolved after one airport kiss. This leads me to believe that Stella is still in control of their relationship. She’s the one at the airport looking for him, trying to stop him from leaving even though they just broke up. She’s the one who was in the wrong for trying to control who Winston was, while Winston’s only fault was being himself. Once he saw her at the airport they immediately got back together because this wasn’t his decision; it was her’s. Now once again Stella has Winston in her clutches to make her life look more stable by having complete control over everything.

Both the Play and Movie show that society thinks when two people are in a relationship someone should be in control. Stella and Petruchio act like they control their partners for love, but it in the end they are only think about themselves and the control they have over their own lives. Winston and Katherine are just status symbols or tools they use to their own advantage, not life long partners they actually care about.

Comments (3)

Niah Lombo (Student 2017)
Niah Lombo

I liked how you touch on the idea that society sets is that someone has to wear the pants in the relationship and you used both dominant characters.

Joel Johnson (Student 2017)
Joel Johnson

I second on what tianna says. I appreciated how you focused on the Stella & Petrucio. I agrre with the fact that society thinks when two people are in a relationship someone should be in control.

Tianna McNair (Student 2017)
Tianna McNair

I really enjoyed how you focused in Stella and Petrucio. I was a nice fit for the assignment. I had a similar thesis so I also argued the same points. Overall I liked this project.