Scaffolding Sheet – Why do so many stories sound suspiciously Shakespearean?
Part A: Gathering Evidence
Identify and explain the similarities between the texts to justify that your suspicions are valid.
The reason “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Taming of the Shrew” are so similar is due to the fact that “10 Things…” is based off of the original screenplay by William Shakespeare. Even when comparing the titles of both the stories it seems that the pronunciation is even alike.
Part B: Motives and Causes
Explain why you think the similarities between Shakespeare’s works and other contemporary stories exist. In order to explain these connections you must consider:
Universality of plots and themes
Cultural familiarity and popularity
Shakespeare’s enduring relevance
Shakespeare is a cultural phenomenon, known internationally for his plays and poems such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth. There are countless reasons Shakespeare is still relevant over 400 years after his assumed death and even generations into the future. His plots and themes are universal: love, ambition, power, greed and betrayal – they’ll always have relevance to every new generation. “Taming of the Shrew” and “10 Things I Hate About You” has love, power, greed and betrayal as themes – proving that it’s still very popular in a contemporary setting.
Shakespeare’s influence on the English language runs deep, and we use his language every day without second guessing it. Even though the language he uses has become more difficult to understand overtime, the meaning behind his words are “as modern as ever”. Ben Crystal, author of Shakespeare on Toast says that “He wrote about what it is to be human, to love, to lose, to be envious of your best friend’s girlfriend, to become jealous, to kill – he explored the human condition, essentially, which is kind of timeless. Anyone from any cultural background could play Hamlet. It’s about bringing your life experiences to date to the parts, which makes his works pretty universal too”.
The similarities exist because the contemporary piece has to have some connection to the original text. When watching “10 Things…” it seemed as if they were trying their best to get through to the audience that it was in fact based off of a Shakespeare play due to all the references. In the English class the set task was to make a poem, and the teacher referred to Shakespeare – “He may be an old dead white guy, but he knew his stuff”. Kat’s best friend in the movie, Mandella, was a pure reference to Shakespeare yet again, such as dressing in clothing that would’ve been worn in Shakespeare’s time. Throughout the movie it seemed that most characters (every once in a while) incorporated some of the language that would’ve been used in Shakespearean times.
Part C: Differences
Identify the differences between original texts and their contemporary versions and explain why those differences exist. You must consider:
Changing social and cultural values
The storyline for Taming of the Shrew is very similar to 10 things I hate about you, except for a few modifications. The basic story line for Taming of the Shrew is that the younger, more popular and polite daughter can’t marry until her ill-tempered older sister does. The modification to reposition the movie into the contemporary age is that the younger daughter can’t date until her ill-tempered older sister does. The reasoning behind this change to the storyline is due to how we view relationships in the present compared to the past, therefore changing it to fit a contemporary setting. In the past, people would marry at an early age, without dating beforehand. Now, people tend to date for a majority of up to a year or more, then marrying.
During 10 Things I Hate About You, you notice that the father of the two sisters has a different attitude compared to the father in Taming of the Shrew. In 10 Things I Hate About You the father is desperate to keep them both away from dating and even sets up a rule that the younger can only date when the older does. The reasoning behind why father has done this could be because of him losing his own wife. In Taming of The Shrew the father is absolutely desperate to get rid of both of the daughters, and would do anything to get the elder married off so the younger can as well.
Another modification that has been made is that in 10 Things I Hate About You in order to get someone to take out Kat, Michael (the same character as Biondello in Taming) and Cameron (the same character as Lucencio in Taming) convince Joey (same character as Hortensio in Taming) to pay Patrick (the same character as Petruchio in Taming) to take out Kat. Now, in Taming of the Shrew
The differences between the original texts and the remixes exist so the piece can be repositioned into a contemporary setting so it can be easier understood by the audience. This is done through relevance to scenarios, language, costuming and other things from the desired audience’s settings and environments.