Truly She’s Not All That

Comparing “The Taming of the Shrew” to “She’s All That”

In the play, “The Taming of the Shrew,” proves that men try to beautify their women, which in turn fuels their ego and eventually the men get something out of it. In, “Shrew,” Petruchio marries Katherine to obtain her wealth, and makes her become a better person. In the 1999 movie, “She’s All That,” Zach Siler tries to do the same, but to transform Laney Boggs into a prom queen to win a bet.

In both mediums of entertainment, the man tries to change the woman, in which he gets something out of it at the end. By achieving this, they boost their ego, and the women are more likeable, but their situations are different. In “Shrew,” Petruchio is married to Katherine and already promised 20 crowns. Then he tries to tame her attitude, and neither party truly loves each other by the end of the play. Although in “She’s All That,” Zach makes the bet before knowing the girl, and ends up falling in love with her. Guys play women as though they are easily changed objects and think they’re the greatest ever by doing so if they are successful. These two situations are in very different time periods, but it shows how the male’s idea of dating and/or women in general has stayed the same. These texts reflect that men stay trying to change the women for their benefit and because of this, the woman becomes more attractive.

"Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented

That you shall be my wife, your dowry 'greed on,

And, will you, nill you, I will marry you….For I am he am born to tame you, Kate,

And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate

Conformable as other household Kates."

(Act 2, Scene 1, 259-268)

Petruchio meets Katherine for the first time, and makes it clear that he is going to marry her, that the dowry is already set, and his job is to tame her. Petruchio already knows that Katherine isn’t the most pleasant person in the world to say the least, and that people hate her because of this. Since he’s going to be married to her, conforming her personality to be nicer adds to his benefit. By doing such a deed the people who dislike Katherine will see how she has become tamer and will find her more amusing.

Similarly to the movie, “She’s All That,” Zack knows that Laney has more of an introverted personality and isn’t really a people pleaser, so he tries to make more characteristics about her more appealing.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.20.08 PM

Zach shows up at Laney’s house to convince her to go to a party. She says she has nothing to wear so he gives her a short, red dress that shows cleavage, but then she complains she’s a mess. Zack brings along his sister to help change Laney’s look by doing her makeup and even cutting her hair to her shoulders. Even now, the guy is trying to beautify her. Zack is the most popular boy in school, and since he is going to a party with Laney, he wants her to look more on his level. By changing one of the most “plain Jane” looking girls in the school to a beautiful prom queen, would be the ultimate achievement in showing Zack’s high school career. When Zack changes Laney to look more acceptable, the people around Laney see her as more attractive rather than boring or not even noticing her at all.

"Tut, she’s a lamb, a dove, a fool to him!

I’ll tell you, Sir Lucentio: when the priest

Should ask if Katherine should be his wife,

“Ay, by gogs wouns!” quoth he, and swore so loud

That, all amazed, the priest let fall the book,

And as he stooped again to take it up,

The mad-brained bridegroom took him such a cuff

That down fell priest and book, and book and priest.

“Now take them up,” quoth he, “if any list.”"

(Act 3, Scene 2, 130-139)

Gremio(who is a suitor for Bianca -Katherine’s younger sister) is talking to Tranio(who is a servant) about how at the wedding, Petruchio made Katherine look like an innocent child next to him. Petruchio had flipped out at the wedding to the priest and caused an uproar. By him doing such in front of a crowd with Katherine next to his side, makes Katherine look like a goddess. Petruchio decided to act in such an abrupt manner because Katherine will be embarrassed of Petruchio, and know that that’s not an acceptable way to act in front of people. Once she know’s this, she will act in a calmer manner all the time. Even though Katherine has a foul attitude, by Petruchio such shows Katherine off, which is why Gremio said Katherine was an innocent child. Compared to Petruchio in this scene, people are seeing the difference in Katherine. She acts as a lamb or dove, and to Petruchio she becomes more pleasing to others than him. Slowly but surely Petruchio is conforming Katherine’s attitude by being ruder than her so people will like her better.

Zack is slowly, but surely changing Laney as well, and people are noticing.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.36.43 PM

Dean, Zack’s best friend is talking to Zack about “tapping”(having sex) with Laney. Zack says that hanging out with her isn’t about getting any. Dean asks if he could then partake because now since all of sudden due to Laney’s new looks and popularity, she’s become more attractive. Since Zack has spent so much time changing Laney to become better, people have noticed which is why Dean asks if it’s okay if he could have sex with her.

Both texts portray men as having the same outlook on women; women need to look a certain way in order to be considered “dateable.” The Taming of the Shrew was written in 1593, while “She’s All That,” was produced in 1999. These two texts are written over 400 years between each other, but both show that society deems it as okay that men change these women for their benefit, as long as the woman becomes a better version of herself. The portrayals of men and women in both the play and movie tell the viewer that in society, that there are certain physical and emotional expectations in courtship/dating.  

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William, and Barbara A. Mowat. The Taming of the Shrew. Washington Square Press New Folger's ed. New York: Washington Square, 1992. Print.

She's All That. Perf. Freddie Prinze Jr, Rachael Leigh Cook, Paul Walker. Miramax Home Entertainment ;, 1999. Film.

"The Taming of the Shrew." SparkNotes. SparkNotes. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <>.