Le fabuleux destin de Lucentio
Comparing Amélie and Taming of the Shrew
There has always been a debate whether love at first sight is real or not. Some see it as logically impossible and completely ridiculous, while others say they’ve even felt it themselves. However, there’s no objective way to know if it’s real or not. Because of that, fiction has always been a base for talking about love at first sight, and both Amélie and Taming of the Shrew show that.
Amélie Poulain, a woman living in France, has lived alone her whole life, and is looking for love. She falls in love with a man named Nino who spends his free time collecting discarded photo booth photos. Amélie later finds his briefcase, which he has left behind, and goes on a journey to find him and return the briefcase. It’s very different, but there are parallels with Taming of the Shrew. Amélie is a lot like Lucentio. She falls in love at first sight, much like Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, and they both spend the majority of their respective works trying to find who they love and win their heart. In addition, in the end, they both end up together with who they love. However, in Taming of the Shrew, this is shown as a bad thing- Lucentio is unable to summon Bianca during a bet, while Petruchio, who manipulates Kate, is able to. Therefore, while Amélie enthusiastically supports love at first sight, Taming of the Shrew refutes it as worthless and meaningless.
“Happily I have arrivèd at the last, unto the wishèd haven of my bliss.”
(Act V, Scene vii, 108-109)
“Sir, my mistress sends you word, that she is busy, and she cannot come.”
(Act V, Scene ii, 86-87)
At the end of Taming of the Shrew, the characters Petruchio, Hortensio, and Lucentio place a bet on whose wife is more obedient. They each call their wives and wait to see who will come. Lucentio, whose love was “at first sight”, cannot make his wife, Bianca, come, as she is busy. Petruchio, who “trained” his wife with cruelty, gets his wife, Kate, to come. It makes a point- Petruchio’s marriage, which is based on training Kate to be a good wife, is worthwhile, while Lucentio’s, which is more organic, is not.
This is the opposite of what Amélie shows.
In Amélie, the main character, Amélie, falls in love at first sight with Nino. She’s shy, and he’s shy, so they don’t really talk much. However, she finds his lost photo album, and she eventually works up the courage to look for him and find him. This is similar to Lucentio, who also falls for someone and goes on a journey to find them.
“If you let this opportunity slip away, then, as time goes by, it's your heart that will become as dry and fragile as my bones.”
Amélie is shy, but her friend, the old painter M. Dufayel, tells her to find Nino. Dufayel is portrayed as the “wise old man”, which is meant to make the viewer believe and trust him. This, combined with the end of the film, where Amélie finds Nino, returns his briefcase, finds out he also loves her, and they live “happily ever after”, contribute to the air of “love at first sight is worthwhile” around the film. This is in contrast to Taming of the Shrew.
In the end of Taming of the Shrew, Lucentio and Bianca are married and in love, but the play makes a point by having Bianca disobey Lucentio when he summons her during the bet. This is, to our best knowledge, meant to show that love at first sight can lead to a bad marriage. While they are not shown to be unhappy together, it shows that love at first sight does not magically tame wives, and is therefore worthless. Which is right? That’s your decision to make.
Amélie. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Perf. Audrey Tautou. UGC-Fox Distribution, 2001. Digital.
Shakespeare, William. Folger Shakespeare Library: The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Washington Square, 1992. Print.