Ideas About Love Transcend Time

Ideas About Love Transcend Time

By Tianna McNair

“Taming of the Shrew” and “Brown Sugar”

“The Taming of the Shrew”,written by Shakespeare, is about a bunch of suitors, dressed in disguise, trying to compete for a young girl's hand in marriage. Her father, the king, would not allow her to be married off until her older sister Katherine was married first. The majority of the play centers around the a man named Petruchio and how he managed to turn a feisty women into a dainty lady. This fifthteenth century play addresses ideas about love and expectation that are present  in the 2002 film, Brown Sugar. Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan both star in Brown Sugar, which is about two childhood friends that reconnect. Sidney, played by Sanaa Lathan, feels a way when she finds out the Dre suddenly gets engaged. One thing that is pretty consistent throughout the movie is the idea that women seek mainly to please the man because it is expected of them. Marriage is not really about love but more so about control and based off of expectations set by gender roles for men and women.

To help better explain, look at  Act iii of Taming of the Shrew.  Petruchio and Katherine get married and arrive at Petruchio's house. Here Petruchio decides to "tame" Katherine by depriving her of many things.

"But for my bonny Kate, she must with me. Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret; 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”

In this scene, Petruchio makes it very clear that he is the one in control of the relationship. He controls when she eats or sleeps,and even what she wears. He then goes on to compare Katherine to a bunch of different objects. This directly shows that she is a possession to him.

Over the past 423 years, there has not been many changes to the way that men and women perceive love, relationships, and marriage. Men still think that women are there for their pleasure and in ways still object them. Petruchio, from Taming of the Shrew, says that Katherine has to be delicate and submissive while Dre, from Brown Sugar, says that his wife needs to be sexually submissive which is another way of objectifying her.

In this upcoming scene, Sidney and Dre are hanging out and Sidney asks Dre how did he know that his fiance is “the one”. He goes on to explain to her his reasoning.

“You know, we all looking for wifey material. A woman that's fine, smart, classy, but not a snob. You know, hella... hella sexy, but not a ho. That's brown sugar. That's my Reesey. I mean, don't get confused by her business suit. She is a freak in the bedroom…”

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Dre describes what he seems to think that all men look for in a woman. He is saying he scored because he found a woman like that. In both the play and the movie, the male lead seem to use the male expectation of their time to objectify the women in their lives. In present day men are encouraged to be hypersexualized, Dre demonstrates that activity when talking about Reese because he never mentioned a thing about her personality or even loving her. In the play Petruchio objectifies Katherine but takes a different approach in doing so. He speaks of Katherine in a very possessive way. He talks about how she is like the things he owns which shows that she is less than a human, an object, because there is no positive connotation associated with a person claiming to own another person.

Petruchio was very set on trying to get Katherine to agree with marrying him. On page 95 he went on a small rant.

"Marry, so mean, sweet Katherine, in thy bed. And therefore, setting all this chat aside, Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented That you shall be my wife, your dowry ‘greed on, And, will you, nill you, I will marry you. Now, Kate, I am a household for turn, For by this light, whereby I see thy beauty, Thy beauty that doth make me like thee well, Thou must be married to no man but me. For I am he am born to tame you, Kate, And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate Conformable as other household Kates.”

In this piece of dialogue, Petrucio blantly says that he wants to marry Katherine and spends his time thinking of a way to make Katherine submissive. In many movies today and even in real life people will be attracted to someone but try to tweak their personality to make it more appealing to them instead of finding someone who they were ok with from the beginning. Another way that this scene from the play seems to be showing that marriage is not about love because Katherine and Petruchio are pretty much very similar as far as their wild, violent, and straightforward behavior. This makes it hard to understand why he would want so badly to change would her when it would seem more fitting for him to be in love with the idea of having a woman who is just like him.

In this next scene Dre and Sidney are talking and bonding after they find  out that Reese has been cheating on him.

“Something happened between me leaving the house… and, uh… getting to the wedding. But, you know, I shook it off, 'cause, damn, I had a beautiful woman that loved me to death. So, you know, I took all those feelings and... locked them away, 'cause not everybody can marry their one true love. It was a pretty difficult situation.”

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When Dre says that not everybody can marry their one and true love then it automatically goes to show that marriage is not about love. Perhaps he married her because she is successful or maybe even because of her looks but either way love was not in it. There is also the possibility that her married her simply because it is expected for a man of his age to do so. The theme of marrying because you have to not because you want to is present in The Taming of the Shrew. Katherine did not want to get married but she had to because of her father and the societal norms of that time.

In man ways people today are different from the people of the past. But male and female expectations in relationships transcends time. Although “Brown Sugar” and “The Taming of the Shrew” are two completely different stories in two completely different time periods the dynamics of the relationships in both stories are similar. They both prove that society on a large scale affects the way that people approach different things, in this case relationships. So something as timeless as the male’s role when dating or marrying a woman makes it so a man from the fiffthteenth centry and a man from present share the similar ideas about love.

Comments (2)

Chloë Epstein (Student 2017)
Chloë Epstein

This essay showed me how men will create a checklist on what type of woman they want to be with, but none of it matters unless they are in control of the relationship.