Comparing “The Taming of the Shrew” to “Hitch”
With “The Taming of the Shrew”, Shakespeare introduces the historic idea of love, and it’s definitive nature of being solely for the economic and personal gain of an individual. All of the characters featured in the play are tailored around the idea that marriage, unlike society’s mythological perception, is not built upon love. On the other hand, Andy Tennant’s Hitch (2005), presents a modernized interpretation surrounding the meaning of love as well as its marital counterpart.
While some audiences may interpret the actions of Alex Hitchens to be similar to those of Petruchio, a large majority of viewers will see the contrast in personality between the two. Petruchio’s main objective throughout the entire play is to not only marry Katherine, for her wealth, but to successfully implement his dominance over her life. As opposed to most women during that era, Katherine is outspoken and rebellious to the many forms of oppression society had for women. This genre of society, consequently produced high standards that well-intentioned men unfortunately have to overcome in modern time. Yet, Hitch embraces these skeptic aspects of women and enjoys acting as a consultant, just as Tranio did for Lucentio, so as to guide innocent men to healthy, long-lasting relationships. These texts reflect that today, people believe that an authentic relationship needs to maintain the notion of honesty so as to prevent the historic one sided nature of a romantic union.
"And woo her with some spirit when she come! Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain, she sings as sweetly as a nightingale"
(Act 2, Scene 1, 177-180)
In this scene, we see a ponderous Petruchio lingering outside his soon-to-be fiance’s chamber. The suitor has just been blessed by Baptista, father to his love interest. The audience observes Petruchio reciting a remedy for subduing Katherine in the verbal joust that will surely ensue. As the quote portrays, he plans on utilizing reverse psychology, which is his definition of charming Katherine. However, instead of pursuing Katherine for her qualities as an individual, the perks of being married to her which include her large dowry as well as her beauty, outweigh the romantics in Petruchio’s mind.
Hitch finds himself in a similar predicament in the film, however, his actions lack villainous intent.
In this scene of the movie, we see the first encounter Hitch has with Sara Melas in a nightclub. Prior to their conversation, Sara had already dismissed a guy that attempted to pursue her, to no avail. And it is revealed by Hitch, as well as her body language, that she has come to the club in order to relax and enjoy the scenery. As a man trying to charm a woman, Hitch is left at a severe disadvantage in the sense that he is trying to come off sincere while Sara has already judged him as a “pig” with the intentions of seducing her.
"‘Tis deeds must win the prize, and he of both that can assure my daughter greatest dower shall have my Bianca’s love."
(Act 2, Scene 1, 361-365)
In this scene, we see Baptista contemplating the marriage proposals of two suitors. He is faced with the somewhat difficult decision of what offer is best for his daughter. And unlike modern marriage prepositions, which are centered around the happiness and love of both individuals, this proposal is encompassed around money. As the quote suggests, Baptista is basically offering his own child off to the highest bidder as if she were an object. And despite the fact that the dowry is for the wife, this future union would be to the benefit of the suitor because Bianca’s love was essentially void in the arrangement.
Hitch describes his true intentions as a “Dating Consultant” to a distraught Sara.
In the movie, through coincidental circumstances Sara has discovered Hitch’s occupation as a romantic consultant for men, which she believes is a scam to help men seduce women. This scene emulates the honesty behind Hitch’s passion during a speed date activity, which coincidentally serves as the setting for his explanation. In perspective, the protagonist acts as a catalyst that helps men essentially disarm the protective nature women have, so as to genuinely love them. Suitors in The Taming of the Shrew, such as Petruchio, are the embodiment of sleazy men that ultimately led to how women view men in pursuit of their female counterparts.
At the conclusion of the movie, Hitch comes to a more profound comprehension of his love for Sara and expresses it to her. The same can not be said for Petruchio and his wife Katherine, who seemingly relinquishes to the submissive role of a wife. Unlike the film, Shakespeare leaves the play’s conclusion to audiences interpretation of whether the shrew (Katherine) was actually tamed by her husband or whether she enacted a ploy. Either way, these texts reflect that the love apparent in both individuals will prevail over relationships that are built upon dishonesty and conceit.