The Silver Linings of The Shrew

"The Taming of the Shrew" presents the idea that women must be very submissive and offer everything to their partners. In the final moments of "Shrew", Katherine gives a speech about how they must offer their hands to their men no matter what. In the 2012 movie, "Silver Linings Playbook," one of the main characters would have you believe that this statement would be false.

Tiffany, from "Silver Linings Playbook," and Katherine, from "Shrew" have two very polarizing views on what the female expectations should be in a relationship. Katherine, although very cold and uncompromising in the beginning of the play, holds the idea that being subordinate to Petruchio will make her a better partner. On the other hand, Tiffany found that doing things for her husband and others around  her left her with nothing in return. She found this type of lifestyle to not be beneficial to her well-being and concluded that relationships must be two-way streets. Whether a relationship is platonic, marital, or anything in between, one party must give back to the other what it receives in equal amounts. These works show that over time, people have grown to believe that both parties of a relationship are expected to contribute something to the relationship. It cannot be successful if one person is passive.

“I am ashamed that women are so simple to offer war where they should kneel for peace, or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway when they are bound to serve, love and obey.”

-Katherine, (Act 5, Scene 2, Line 177-180)

This quote is from Katherine’s speech taking place after a bet was placed between Luciento, Petruchio, and Hortensio. The bet was to see whose wife would come to their husband if called. Both the wives of Luciento and Hortensio do not return but, Katherine does. She then rants about how women must be passive and submissive to their partners. She says that they must kneel to their husbands as an offering of peace instead of being scolding and uncompromising like how she was at the beginning of the play. Katherine then goes on by saying that women were created to be obedient to their husbands. If a woman were to even try to pursue supremacy or even equality to their husbands, then they would not be suitable as wives.


“Its gonna be amazing! You're gonna be amazing and she’s gonna be amazing and you’re not gonna be that guy that’s gonna take advantage of the situation without offering to do something back, so think about the dance thing.”

The protagonist, Pat, is a former mental hospital patient who is trying to win back his ex-wife, Nikki, who has a restraining order on him. He decides to write a letter and have someone deliver it to her. To do this, he seeks out the help of one of his neighbor’s widowed sister, Tiffany. She accepts but, only if Pat competes with her in a dance competition. Pat refused what he thinks is a ridiculous offer but, after Tiffany lets him explain the dynamics of his love for Nikki, she responds with this quote. She says that this optimism about reviving a lost love will make him complacent and will eventually lead to him taking advantage of Nikki without giving anything back to her. She believes he will become “that guy” that would fit into the type of relationship that Katherine envisions for all women. This type of person is not seen as favorable or positive in Tiffany’s eyes and because of this, further pushes the dance competition idea onto Pat to help break this habit of not giving back or preventing it from starting in the first 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 liest warm at home, secure and safe, and craves no other tribute at thy hands but love, fair looks, and true obedience - Too little payments for such a debt.”

Katherine, (Act 5, Scene 2, Line 162-170)

In this part of Katherine’s speech concluding the play, she is proclaiming her unconditional devotion to her husband. She says that Petruchio is not only the one that cares for her but, also expresses his ownership and dominance over her. Katherine is not only content with this but, also proud to give herself to Petruchio. She even begins to shame the women by saying that they should not be so selfish as the least they could do is offer their love, looks and loyalty. Even then, she says that is too large of a debt to be able to satisfy.


“...If it’s me reading the signs I need to see something to prove you are ready to resume our marriage. Otherwise, I find myself thinking that we might both be better off by moving on with our lives separately.”

In this scene of the film, Pat and Tiffany are hastily preparing for the dance competition in the coming weeks. At this point, they are trying to nail down the “big move” of their routine and are struggling. Tiffany then reveals to Pat that she has the response to his letter to Nikki. He can only read it if he pulls off the move with her. Pat finds that he cannot focus and has to read the letter in order to practice more effectively. He reads the letter aloud and even though the letter wishes Pat well it ends with the quote above. What Nikki is telling Pat is that she needs to see Pat show that he has changed for the bette. Pat needs to give something back to the world around him whether it be to her, Tiffany, or anyone else. Tiffany emphasizes that this dance competition could be that something that Nikki needs to see.

Silver Linings Playbook and The Taming of The Shrew show the views of expectations of relationships and how they have changed over the centuries. As shown through Katherine’s character, women’s societal and biological expectations are to be obedient and passive to their husbands. If they are not, then they would be shunned and considered by their community as not being a suitable wife. In Silver Linings Playbook, Tiffany present an antithesis saying that both side of a relationship must contribute something in order for it to last and be successful. This goes for any type of relationship whether it be, platonic, marital or anywhere in between. If this does not happen, then an imbalance of power will arise, leading to one of the sides taking advantage of the other.

Comments (7)

Rifah Islam (Student 2017)
Rifah Islam

I love this movie! I think you did a good job at comparing what women thought about relationships in the past to now. I really enjoyed the quotes you picked from the book, they show Katherine in a seriously submissive state.

Teylor Ellerbe (Student 2017)
Teylor Ellerbe

Ty - I understand your thesis completely I wonder though what if you had quotes from the townspeople that show how being the way Kate is, is not accepted in the world they live in. I would like to see how Tiffany or Pat's wife has been casted out as well. Overall good job

Jamira Terrell (Student 2017)
Jamira Terrell

I love the way you organized the format of your essay. It was really good and provided a clear understanding of both the book and movie, especially to those who mightve not seen it. Also, the quotes…I feel like you chose the perfect ones to incorporate into your essay all while tying it back to the thesis.

Tahmidul Bhuiyan (Student 2017)
Tahmidul Bhuiyan

The idea of implementing polarizing views on a serious issue at modern days was an awesome way to sup up the essay. Great understanding of the essay and its plot in general.

Benjamin Fink (Student 2017)
Benjamin Fink

I liked how you included quotes from both the play and the movie.

This project taught me that any type of relationship must be give-and-take, marital, romantic, or otherwise. If you are in some sort of relationship with someone, you can't ask for something without giving something back.