“I’m not a smart man, but I don’t know what romance is”

Forrest Gump is a romantic-comedy-drama film created in 1994. The story follows the life Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), who is a dim-witted, but kind-hearted and athletic man from Alabama. Between the time of his birth in 1944 and 1982, Forrest witnesses and in some instances, influences key defining points in the latter half of the 20th century. It would be remissive however to not acknowledge the importance of Jenny Curran (Robin Wright). Jenny Curran is Forrest Gump’s childhood friend and love interest, though her role transcends these titles. Throughout the whole movie Jenny always turns to Forrest in her time of need. This is crucial because in spite of all of her failed relationships she always turned to Forrest for solace and comfort. Even though this movie is a “romantic-comedy” it is centered around an atypical romance. Similar to this, the shakespearean play, “The Taming of the Shrew” offers a plethora of atypical romances. One particular atypical romance is between the two characters Katherine and Petruchio. The reason for this relationship being atypical is that neither Katherine and Petruchio particularly care for eachother. As displayed in both The Taming of the Shrew and Forrest Gump, these unusual relationships reflect that nobody has a set definition of love or romance.


“I will be master of what is mine own.

She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,

My household stuff, my field, my barn,

My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.

And here she stands, touch her whoever dare.”- Petruchio (3.2.235-239)

In this scene, Petruchio’s words about Katherine exemplifies his true feelings. Petruchio sees Katherine as nothing more than property. This can be supported by the words “She is my goods.” He is comparing Katherine to a material possession and neglecting the fact that she is a human being.


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Jenny goes from being angry at Forrest for killing the mood with her momentary lover, to talking to Forrest about her hopes and dreams. While she is doing this she is undressing in front of him. Jenny then goes on to ask him if he “had ever been with a girl” and guides his hand to feel her naked breast. This symbolizes that Jenny views Forrest as a “second option” or a “back up plan”


These two scenes are similar because because both Forrest and Katherine are used to suit the needs of both Petruchio and Jenny. However the difference between the two scenes is that Jenny uses Forrest as something to fall back on when any relationship she has fails, in order to ease the pain of her loneliness and Petruchio objectifies Katherine not for emotional purposes, but for the pursuit of domination and power.


“Be patient, gentlemen. I choose her for myself.

If she and I be pleased, what's that to you?

'Tis bargained 'twixt us twain, being alone,

That she shall still be curst in company.

I tell you, 'tis incredible to believe

How much she loves me. O, the kindest Kate!”- Petruchio (2.1.321-326)

In this scene, Petruchio is lying about both Katherine’s love towards him and Kate agreeing to marry him. The fact that Petruchio says “Tis bargained ‘twixt us twain, being alone,” shows two things. The word “bargained” shows that Petruchio treats this “marriage” as a deal, rather than a mutual love. Another thing that can be seen is that Petruchio’s lie shows that he doesn’t value Katherine’s opinion or her love. He doesn’t even value her hand in marriage, but rather the title that comes with it.


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In this scene, Forrest says to Jenny, “Will you marry me?...I’d make a good husband Jenny.” Jenny then responds with “You would Forrest….You don’t want to marry me.” This prompts Forrest to ask “Why don’t you love me Jenny?” Even though Jenny later tells Forrest that she does love him, this doesn’t dismiss the fact that Forrest feels unloved. Even though Forrest gives 100% into his pursuit of Jenny, he feels as though he is not getting what he truly seeks, and that is Jenny’s love. Jenny realizes this as well, as shown in her statement “you don’t want to marry me.” Jenny feels as though Forrest doesn’t know what he would be getting into if they were to get married and the statement “you don’t want to marry me” serves as a warning to Forrest. However, this should not be taken as Jenny not being interested in marrying Forrest, but rather her wanting what is best for him.


These two scenes show that Katherine doesn’t want to marry Petruchio for the fact that he doesn’t value her as a person or what’s best for her. Jenny on the other hand, doesn’t want Forrest to marry her for the fact that she thinks Forrest deserves better. Both the film and the book show that traditional means of romance don’t necessarily need to be involved in these relationships in order for them to work.


As shown in both The Taming of the Shrew and Forrest Gump, no one has a set definition of romance. Through both of the atypical relationships between Forrest and Jenny and Katherine and Petruchio, it is shown that for some reason these relationships work out in the end, where both Forrest and Jenny and Katherine and Petruchio end up getting married (respectively in the the book and movie). Despite what society believes as an ideal romance or relationship, there aren’t any. Just as people are unique and different, so are romances and relationships.

Comments (5)

Tomas Arango (Student 2017)
Tomas Arango

I really like this essay. You compared the Taming of the Shrew to a movie I never would've thought of. I was able to look at Forrest Gump in a new and different way to what I was used to.