Shrews all stuck in a Daydream

The movie Daydream Nation and the Shakespearean play The Taming Of The Shrew are comparable in many ways. Ranging from the deception throughout different relationships, the casual narcissism, and pretending to be people your not. Although this play is over a hundred years old and the movie came out in 2007 there are many parallels. Caroline Wexler, the main character in Daydream Nation is a girl that has been uprooted from her life in the city and placed into a school where the students are higher than the grades, while attending this school and getting used to daily life in this new town she decides to pretend to be someone else, and this event is brought on by her idea to have an affair with her English teacher, but also to sleep with one of the many stoners in her classes. 

Petruchio, from The Taming of The Shrew is the suitor that decides to marry Baptista’s oldest daughter, Katherine. He does this not out of love but for her inheritance, and in order to make his marriage to her smooth and as painless as possible he must as the title suggests, tame her into a quiet and obedient wife that will do as he says without question. Although the motives for the romances are different these two sources of media show relationships started out of one specific goal are generally more trouble than they are worth.

Signior Hortensio, 'twixt such friends as we

Few words suffice; 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,

She moves me not, or not removes, at least,

Affection's edge in me, were she as rough

As are the swelling Adriatic seas:

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;

If wealthily, then happily in Padua.


This quote from The Taming of The Shrew is Petruchio’s monologue explaining his plan and reasoning behind his impending marriage to Katherine. That he plans on marrying her for her father’s money that she will inherit after he passes, and that her shrewdness is a non-issue for him, because no woman can make him as happy as the money he seeks. So, through this greed and narcissism he also states he will break Katherine of her rude and boisterous ways to make her quiet and obedient. This as is seen previously throughout the play, will be no easy task as many men have tried and failed to woo her, and she is a handful of trouble, although he states that the relationship (to him) will be worth it for the money. And that is his only motivation for calming the tempest that is Katherine. This is comparable to Daydream Nation because when Caroline decides to have an affair with Barry, her English teacher her main motivation is to kill the ever encroaching boredom of her new school and town. That going through with this taboo would make life more exciting and interesting, and that as a whole is her only real interest in being with him. Both characters starting out with their own motives for pursuing their relationships.

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" I don't know why the idea came to me when it did, but I knew it would instantly make life more interesting. Don't we all wanna be somebody different sometimes? Someone smarter and sexier and bolder than we really are. Or maybe I just looked, and saw someone that was as lonely as me."

This is what Caroline is thinking to herself when making the decision to seduce Mr.A (Barry, her English teacher). She states that yes, there may be some underlying reason based off feelings of attraction, but her main motivation here is to occupy herself, to distract herself from her obviously dull life in this new place.

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee

And for thy maintenance; commits his body

To painful labor both by sea and land,

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,

Whilst thou li'st warm at home, secure and safe;

And craves no other tribute at thy hands

But love, fair looks, and true obedience--

Too little payment for so great a debt.

This quote is taken from the very end of the play, when Patricio tells Katherine to tell the other wives how to serve their husbands, this speech actually showing that she has been tamed, or at least pushed into acting like she is. She is going through the motions of saying exactly what her husband wants to hear and she is doing it publicly to effectively tame the other woman too, bleeding Patricio’s overzealous and greedy methods into the other couple’s relationships. Much like what happened in Daydream Nation.

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“My mom once told me that if you ever want to make a man happy... flatter his vanity. Tell him he's handsome. She said not to bother calling him interesting or clever, because that's what their bosses and colleagues are for. But every man carries a secret dream of being handsome, and desperately yearns to be recognized as such.”

In the end the paths of the two stories deviate. The Taming of The Shrew ends in Katherine bowing to Patricio’s will and being tamed, while Daydream Nation ends with Caroline leaving Barry and falling for a guy that was in love with her from the moment he saw her. Katherine seems unhappy and more like a slave then a wife when Shrew ends, and during the affair Barry and Caroline seem to be on edge and uncomfortable with each other, showing the more single minded a relationship the more problems arise, and the less it seems worth it. Thankfully though, as is seen in the differences in the ending of Daydream Nation society has changed so there are more options for both men and woman in day to day life as well as relationships, so going into relationships with something to accomplish is less and less common, and people are generally happier.  


(Daydream Nation full movie)