Love Actually...or Not

Comparing “Taming of the Shrew” to “Love Actually”

    “Taming of the Shrew” is a play about romance and the idea of looking for it. Two sisters, Katherine-the shrew- and Bianca-the “nice and gentle” one- have to get married. Bianca can’t get married until Katherine does. Petruchio, a suitor, says that he doesn’t care what kind of attitude Katherine has, he will still marry her so he must impress her father first. “Love Actually”, a romantic comedy that came out in 2003, showed a couple different story plots about love involving different people. One of the plots was about a little boy named Sam who had a huge crush on a girl he knew. He tries to win her over. Of course the techniques of trying to win over a girl are different from Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew” and Sam from “Love Actually” but they still had the same idea of trying to impress a girl. When looking at the two different stories,can see that they are very similar but also very different. In the modern love story, women have a lot more say in what they do, but with saying that, relationships- romantically or not- always have to do with winning somebody over. This type of love story has been romanticized and hailed by society forever, from the cheesy movies from the 50s to songs like “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey. We as people crave someone to root for, an underdog, the geek that gets the girl.


“...And therefore, if thou know one rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife (as wealth is burden of my wooing dance), be she as foul as was Florentius’ love, as old as sibyl, and as curst and shrewd as Socrates’ Xanthippe, or a worse,…”

(Act I, Scene ii, Lines 67-72)

Petruchio has just arrived in Padua and is looking for a lady for marriage. He is speaking to another character from the play. He is saying that he basically just needs a girl with wealth. He doesn’t care about anything else about her. None of her other qualities matter as long as she has money.

In the movie, Sam is in a similar situation when he is explaining to his step father the crush he has on a classmate.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.58.00 PM

In this scene from the movie, Sam’s step father asks him what has been going on. He says, “Is it school? Are you being bullied? Or is it something worse?” Sam is admitting that he has a crush on a girl named Joanna, and that he is in love with her. He replies, “The truth is, actually, I’m in love...” He says that there is nothing he can do about it. We can see that he, similar to Petruchio, is explaining the relationship he is wanting to get involved with. They are both trying to court a girl. The difference between Sam and Petruchio is that Sam really does love this girl or at least thinks he does. Petruchio wants money. They both continue on this quest to getting their respective girls. This scene shows how Sam wants to be in a relationship with the girl and it shows his status with her.

“...I’ll attend her here- And woo her with some spirit when she comes! Say that she rail, why then ill tell her plain she sings as sweetly as a nightingale. Say that she frown, I’ll say she looks as clear As morning roses newly washed with dew...”

(Act II, Scene i, Lines 176-181)

In this scene, Petruchio is explaining what he will do to please Katherine. He wants to make her like him so he thinks that complimenting her and everything will make her like him a little more. Any time she says something bad he will kind of contradict it and make it into a compliment.

Likewise, in the movie, Sam is talking to his stepfather because he wants to impress the girl that he likes.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 11.35.16 AM

He says, “Girls love musicians, even the really weird ones get girlfriends.”  He later says that there is a big concert that Joanna is in, and he wants to join so that she will see him play and maybe start to like him. Both Sam and Petruchio are willing to do something or say something that they don’t exactly believe in so that they can get the girl they want. Sam wants a girlfriend and Petruchio wants a wife. Both are unsure if this will work, but they are both willing to try and see what happens.

In the end of the movie, Joanna moves back to America where she is from. She does come back for a visit eventually, but we have to remember that they are only 12 and while they may have crushes on each other; this doesn’t build into a relationship, at least from what we can see. Petruchio, gets the wife that he always wanted and the dowry that came along with her. Sam may not get the girl he had been crushing on, but he is still excited that he got to show her how he truly felt.

Works Cited:

1. Shakespeare, William, and W. J. Rolfe. Shakespeare's Comedy of the Taming of the Shrew. New York: Harper & Bros., 1881. Print.

2. Love Actually. Dir. Richard Curtis. Perf. Hugh Grant, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Olivia Olsen. 2003. Website.