She’s The Man (but she used to be the woman)
Taming of The Shrew and She’s The Man
The Shakespeare classic, "The Taming of the Shrew", shows the relationship between romance and obedience has been around for centuries. In the play, the crazy- neurotic and dominant Petruchio seeks to win Katherine’s love through obedience, despite her persistence independence. In the 2006 movie, “She’s The Man”, the main character Viola has an ex-boyfriend Justin with the same mindset as Petruchio--and she’s just as stubborn as Katherine, and also just as sneaky.
Though Katherine and Viola share some emotions and personality traits, their situations- and end goals- are very different. Katherine never wanted marriage, never wanted to allow a man to have control over her, and while Viola want’s the same, she has a guy in mind she believes is her happily ever after. Katherine is forced into marriage to Petruchio as he lied about her father immediately promising her over, and as he begins to train her, she also tricks him. Viola has to overcome the fact that her ex-boyfriend Justin is actually a controlling jerk, and her new love Duke likes Oliva, the good debutant that obeys. The snapping with both characters possess in their disobedience provide similar humor despite different generations, showing the similarities between our past and present societies. These text reflect that in today’s world, women are able to make their own choices, fighting and disobeying man’s demands more than they once did, but society still deems it acceptable for the man to try and control the women. Both generation of men believe the women should accept the man’s request to obey, but women have other ideas.
Petruchio- “Sirrah Grumio, go to your mistress, Say I command her to come to me.” [Enter Katherine]
Baptista- “Now by my holidan, here comes Katherina!”
Petruchio-“Go fetch them hither...Away, I say, and bring them hither straight... Nay, I will win my wager better yet, and show more sign of her obedience, Her new-built virtue and obedience [Enter Katherine, Bianca and Widow] Katherine, that cap of yours becomes you not. Off with that bauble, throw it underfoot [she obeys].”
(Act x, Scene x, line numbers)
In this quote, taken from the ending scene of the play, Petruchio and his father and brother in law make a wager of whose wife will be obedient and run to them when they call. Everyone bet against Katherine, because of how “mean” and disobedient she appeared to be because she did not want to marry. It turned out she was the only wife to come right away when her husband called for her. She then gives a long speech to the other wives about obeying their husband, begging the question- did she actually submit her obedience or does she hold more power over the man then they realize? Viola finds herself with the same choice as Katherine- listen to her man or do as she pleases?
In this early scene from "She’s The Man," we see that Viola has a love for soccer- something she shares with her boyfriend Justin. Her school cut the girls soccer team, yet allowed the boys soccer team to stay. When the sexist coach refuses to turn the team coed, Justin makes a cruel mistake and misjudgement about his girlfriend-he assumed she would obey. “Justin-“Viola! End of discussion!” Teammate-“Yeah, tell her, man.” Viola-“Fine. End of relationship.” Justin- “Come on, let's go. - Baby, don't be like that. I...I just don't want to see you get hurt.” “You are so full of...” After the sexist comments from both the coach and Justin, Viola breaks up with Justin and doesn’t fall for his excuses, giving the audience the first glance of the fire in her character. Upset that nobody seen anything wrong with the coaches logic or words, she slumps home to her awaiting mother.
Gremio-“She’s too rough for me.- There, there, Hortensio, will you any wife?
Katherine [to Baptista]- “I pray you, sir, is it your will To make a stale of me amongst these mates?
Hortensio- ““Mates”, maid? How mean you that? No mates for you, Unless you were of gentler, milder mold.”
(Act x, Scene x, line numbers)
In this quote, Gremio and Hortensio, two suitors of Bianca, Katherine’s little sister, they explain that Katherine is too mean and rough for them- or any man. They believe her to be ungentle because she does not aspire to marriage, and is opinionated in her life and choices. As these men talk about her, unkindly, she turns to her father, upset that she has to endure the pressure of marriage and submitting to a man. She had already made it clear to her father she had no desire to marry, but until she does, he is not allowing her much admired little sister too be bethroved. The doppelganger spirit of Katherine, Viola, finds herself in similar uncomfortable situations throughout the movie, despite her efforts to avoid the other’s persistence.
As viola arrived home, her mother was waiting for her with several dramatic dresses. Her mother, a well known debutant, wants Viola to follow in her footsteps and embrace the debutant life. Viola had already told her mother she enjoyed sports and ball shorts more than dresses and tea party’s, but her mother ignored her request and continues to manipulate her into debutant duties. Her mother is so invested in the debutants because of Viola’s father, believing debutants get more attention from men and make for better wives. Viola’s mother continues to compare Viola to Olivia, a obedient debutant who has won the attention of Duke, the new boy Viola has a crush on.
By enforcing the “female” stereotype that to get a man’s attention you must be obedient, pretty and well put together, the audience can see how society hasn’t changed much. But by allowing Viola to show her character, as Katherine did, and fight back, the audience is also able to realize that obedience to the man is oppressing to women even if they “submit” their will. Even when the women fought back, those around them did not view the man’s actions as wrong, leaving us wondering if it is an accurate depiction of present day society. Viola ends the movie with both the man and soccer- begging the question, why did she have to fight the man so hard? But she won, and she becomes the man.