The "Power" Of Love

The “Power” Of Love

Comparing The Taming of the Shrew Play to the movie “Pretty Woman”

In the movie “Pretty Woman” the two main characters are Edward Lewis and Vivian Ward. Vivian was a really attractive young lady, however she wasn’t able to pursue her big dreams and goals because of many bad decisions she had made, with the addition of falling in love with the wrong type of boy. She worked as a prostitute with her roommate and best friend, Kit, on Hollywood Boulevard. While doing her job, she ran into a wealthy businessman named Edward. Edward is a second generation business tycoon and has became really successful because of it. He also happens to look at relationships as a headache. His previous relationships hadn’t lasted too long and his former partners benefited more from the relationship than he did because of the fact he is wealthy. Edward’s former wife currently lives in one of in his big “ex-condos” as he calls it and a former girlfriend is living, and supposedly moving out of, one of his apartments. Edward and Vivian obviously live two different lifestyles, however connect because of many similarities as individuals throughout such two separate styles of living.

Essentially, the modern film, Pretty Woman, and Shakespearean play, The Taming of the Shrew, both present the idea that ultimately men always have a more powerful “say” in a relationship compared to a woman and the only way for the woman to have some sort of equality is to obtain her own weight in the relationship, meaning having her own money, good career, and such.  

"I come to wive it wealthily in Padua, If wealthily, then happily in Padua."

(Act 1, Scene 2, Line 76-77)

Petruchio has an interest in marrying Katherine, who’s father Baptista, is working hard to find a man for his daughter to marry. Katherine is described as quick tempered, prone to violence, and really against anyone who has a desire to marry her. However, Baptista wants Katherine as the older daughter to get married before her younger, more desired sister Bianca. Petruchio is quick witted, eccentric, and really boisterous. He has a desire to marry Katherine as she meets his expectations of a wife, she is really wealthy because of her father. On the other hand, Baptista treats his daughter marriages as business as he presents his daughter’s “love” for the highest bid. Basically the man who can promise his daughters the most money and best lifestyle.

In a relationship, society has made it seem as though it’s only about love. And the honest truth is that they are often not, and many failed relationships reflects this enduring belief. The effect of everyday life comes into play in a relationship and if there are big differences or disagreements it can definitely impact the love and happiness in a relationship. In the quote above, Petruchio made it clear the happiness with a woman was established for him by her having money. As a man, it’s embedded in Petruchio mind to rule with an iron fist and fulfill his duties as a husband, by taking care of his “wealthy wife” even though because she has money and everything should be available for her to not need assistance from anyone. Money in marriage brings Petruchio happiness, this is obviously the case for every man but this is a great, yet realistic example of how categories of life can impact two individuals who fall in “love” with each other and want to share a life together.

When it comes to money and love in a relationship with the man having a powerful status because of it, Pretty Woman shows this as well in a few scenes. Here is one of them below.

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In this scene, Edward pays for Vivian to stay with him for the rest of the week, basically acting as a lady friend for important business meetings and such. However, because of how she acts and dresses which is the total opposite of the people Edward hangs around(people of more money and class) he gives her money to basically be someone she isn’t or that’s really in her but she doesn’t know how to bring it out by buying more presentable clothes like a new dress instead of the short skirt she wears at work. Vivian can’t deny her appreciation for this man giving her all this attention, time, and money as she is used to men approaching her only wanting one thing. Because of this her standards are low when it comes to relationships. Comparing this to Taming of the Shrew, both show how good or bad money can really be in a relationship. Of course it’s not all about the money in both cases, more so not with Pretty Woman however the promises of one giving a lot hard-earned money to someone else expecting nothing in return besides possibly sex is something that down the road can be the rise or fall of that relationship. It raises the question of what would happen if money were to run out or, usually since the man is the breadwinner, (especially during these times 1590s for Taming of the Shrew and late 1900s for Pretty Woman) the question of the woman being a golddigger comes about. Both relationships between Petruchio and Katherine and Edward and Vivian are surrounded by the greed of money for at least one of the partners, it creates an imbalance and sometimes a relationship isn’t strong enough to work through the disparity.

“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”

(Act 3, Scene 2, Line 235-239)

Throughout The Taming of the Shrew, the play heavily gives the perception of how men are obligated to play a big role in their relationship. The expectations of a boyfriend’s role is showed more as the breadwinner, dominant partner, and influenced the direction of the relationship more compared to the woman involved. In this scene of the play, Petruchio explains when he becomes the husband of Katherine, his dominance in the marriage will be shown. He has the belief that women have little to no legal rights of their own and everything will go through the dominant partner(being himself) in the relationship. This scenario compares with society in the recent years and how mankind has made it acceptable for relationships to be like this. The attitude of a man has to have as a boyfriend or husband is a protector and a person who is going to take care of his woman. If the man doesn’t have this mentality and pride to pursue the expectation of being the “man” in the house, he is looked at as feeble. In a male’s perspective, for a female to look at him in a respectful way it’s mandatory for the man to understand how powerful he is without being controlling.

“A woman doesn’t want a weak guy, she wants a prince charming to save her like she’s a princess” These are words that Vivian told Edward when they were talking about dream relationships.    

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Previous to this scene in Pretty Woman taking place both Edward and Vivian admitted to each other they had deeper feelings even though that wasn’t included in the plan. The plan was Edward paid Vivian three thousand dollars to be his beautiful woman friend to bring to business meetings and such. For Vivian, this wasn’t anything new as she have been paid by men on multiple occasions to perform acts as that was her job as a prostitute. However, the job of a prostitute is to never fall for one guy since her job consists of her being with plenty men. When Edward and Vivian both expressed their feelings, Vivian told him the prince charming quote meaning she wanted a guy that could be there for her, not only just put her financially in a better position as she was as a worker on Hollywood Boulevard. Because of consistent work, Edward didn’t think he could make the time on a daily to play the family man which resulted into the Vivian thinking her happiness in the future of the couple would never truly be met. Vivian knew because of Edward’s desire to work all the time he could never be her prince charming and the dream guy she always wanted. On the other hand Edward just wanted to get Vivian off the streets to pursue a relationship with her. That was enough for him but Vivian needed more. Comparing this to the Shrew play and society, this brings the point that the male’s role and decisions can impact a relationship more than a females because of the man having more power and expectations in the relationship.

When it comes to courtship/dating Pretty Woman and The Taming of the Shrew presented the idea that the status of a man in a relationship has a bit of a high ranking compared to his lady’s status. Both pieces gives off the perception that the male is the dominant partner as he is the protector, provider, and most importantly the decision maker who will take responsibility of the outcome because he is the strength of the partnership. Even in this day and age, this is the case with many relationships where if the man isn’t the breadwinner(most case scenarios money is power) it makes him look weak, but on the other hand is acceptable if the woman isn’t the breadwinner. The power a man possesses as the dominant partner holds great responsibility that women are capable of but shouldn’t be in control of when there’s a man involved, and in many cases giving men a higher position in the relationship.

Comments (2)

Kawthar Hasan (Student 2018)
Kawthar Hasan

I understood that you compared and contrasted the characters in the play with Petruchio and Katherine to the characters in the movie Vivian and Edward. You also showed how you have done a lot of summarizing comparing the play and the movie, so this is good for others who haven't read the book nor movie. Next time try to connect the quotes from the play more to the movie.

Hadleigh Stammers (Student 2018)
Hadleigh Stammers

I think you did a lot of summarizing at some points, but it did help understand the concepts you were arguing better. You chose good quotes from the book to prove your thesis that men basically hold the power in a relationship. I think you could have connected the quotes from Taming of the Shrew to the movie a little bit more.