The works 10 Things I Hate About You and The Taming of the Shrew are very comparable, seeing as the former is a modern adaptation of the latter. At first glance, it may appear that many of the relationships are very similar, and not at all like those of a perfect family. The father heavily favors the youngest daughter, Bianca, upsetting Katherine and creating a quite imperfect family. Katherine despises Bianca’s popularity and attention, creating even more conflict. Petruchio/Patrick pushes himself too hard onto Katherine. However, when you dive deeper into the relationships between the sisters and their father, Katherine and Bianca, and Petruchio/Patrick and Katherine, you run into some glaring differences. One can find that the relationships in 10 Things I Hate About You are much milder than those in The Taming of the Shrew. In fact, this difference can represent the change in society over that time.
In both The Taming of the Shrew and 10 Things I Hate About You, the father, be it Baptista in the old version, or Walter in the modern version, appears to heavily favor the younger of his two daughters, Bianca. In fact, it is quite apparent in 10 Things I Hate About You when Walter is talking to Kat, he greets her by saying, “Hello Katarina. Make anyone cry today? Then, when Bianca walks in seconds later, he acknowledges her by saying, “Hello Precious.” This clearly shows a bias towards Bianca. This bias is also clearly shown in the play, too. Katherine realizes this, and confronts her father about it, when she says, “What, will you not suffer me? Nay, now I see. She is your treasure, she must have a husband, I must dance barefoot on her wedding day. And, for your love to her, lead apes in hell. Talk not to me. I will go sit and weep till I can find occasion of revenge.” Here one can see Katherine recognizing the favoritism that her father holds, and her finally calling him out for it. Both of these examples, though from different works, show how the father in the family shows an inclination for the youngest daughter.
This situation, however, is not the entire case. Though that is about the extent of the relationship in The Taming of the Shrew, there is more to it in 10 Things I Hate About You. At the end of the film, Walter has a heart-to-heart conversation with Kat. He tells her, “You know, fathers don’t like to admit it when their daughters are capable of running their own lives. It means we’ve become spectators. Bianca still lets me play a few innings. You’ve had me on the bench for years. And when you go to Sarah Lawrence, I won’t even be able to watch the game.” This is when Walter shows his true feelings. He only acts hostile towards her because he feels like she no longer needs him. Bianca, however, did need him, so he helped her more than he helped Kat. There was no such conversation between Baptista and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. Even so, Bianca still has some resentment directed at her father. She says to him, “Can we for 2 seconds ignore the fact that you’re severely unhinged and discuss my need for a night of teenage normalcy?” Bianca shows some discontent with the actions of her father in being too involved in her life. Once again, The Taming of the Shrew shows no evidence of this.
In both of the works, it is also clear in the beginning that Katherine and Bianca have some serious problems. A great representation of this comes early on in The Taming of the Shrew. Act Two opens with Katherine interrogating Bianca. Bianca begs her to be reasonable, telling her, “Good sister, wrong me not nor wrong yourself, to make a bondmaid and a slave of me. That I disdain. But for these other goods- Unbind my hands, I’ll pull them off myself, yea, all my raiment to my petticoat, or what you will command me will I do, so well I know my duty to my elders” (2.1.1-7). This scene and this specific quote do a great job showing the strenuous relationship between the two sisters. There is a deep discontent on both sides of the fight. We can see this in 10 Things I Hate About You as well. When Bianca is talking to her dad about dating, Kat jumps in on the conversation and the tension comes immediately. Bianca says, “Where did you come from? Planet Loser?” Kat replies, “As opposed to planet ‘look at me! look at me!’?” The two sisters trade harsh insults and show their extreme animosity for each other.
Even so, one can later see that that is not the entire story in 10 Things I Hate About You. Toward the end of the film, Bianca says to Kat, “Look. I don’t know if I ever thanked you for going last night, but it really meant a lot to me.” In this scene, Bianca is finally realizing how much Kat means to her. The two have a conversation, for this first time, that is beneficial and, all in all, happy. In The Taming of the Shrew, we really do not see any such development between the two sisters. Even at the end of the play, they do not really acknowledge each other at Bianca’s wedding, save for Kate pulling Bianca in by the ear after Lucentio calls for her. Even that action seems pretty hostile. The relationship between Katherine and Bianca, though they may appear similar, are actually quite different, in that Kat and Bianca end up happy with each other, whereas Kate and Bianca do not.
Much like the other relationships, on the surface it seems that the bond between Kate and Petruchio is pretty much the same as the one between Kat and Patrick. Once again, though, we will dive deeper into how the relationship develops. In the beginning, when the two characters first meet, many things are comparable. Petruchio/Patrick is in it for the money. Katherine acts like she is not at all interested. In The Taming of the Shrew, Kate makes this very clear when Petruchio tells her he intends to marry her on Sunday, telling him, “I’ll see thee hanged on Sunday first.” Kat has a similar reaction in 10 Things I Hate About You. Patrick tries to flirt with her by talking about the fenders on her car. She replies “Depends on the topic. My fenders don’t really whip me into a verbal frenzy.” She is trying to avoid conversation. However, her reaction is not nearly as violent as Kate’s reaction toward Petruchio. This is the main difference between the two separate relationships. Kat is not as hostile as Kate. In fact, as Kate is leaving their first conversation, she even brings a smile onto Patrick’s face by slamming her car into Joey’s. Even though they have an up and down relationship for the rest of the film, Kat is not anywhere close to being as violent as Kate is, and Patrick is also much milder than Petruchio. The most glaring example of this is Petruchio’s use of torture to subdue Kate. To highlight his use of starvation, he says to his servants, “’Tis burnt, and so is all the meat. What dogs are these! Where is the rascal cook? How durst you, villains, bring it from the dresser and serve it thus to me that love it not? There, take it to you, trenchers, cups, and all! You heedless joltheads and unmannered slaves! What, do you grumble? I’ll be with you straight.” Petruchio deprives Kate of food to make her submit. Patrick, though, only really uses his personality to do that.
All in all, the original 1590s story represents many of the societal values of the time. Women were considered property, and they were treated as such. When they acted up, they were shunned and ignored. Men were the dominant members of the family, and all decisions went through them. However, when you look at the modern, 1999 version of the storyline, you see some extreme changes in society. Women, such as Kat and Bianca, are seen as more of equals, and there is no apparent disparity in gender. The men property court the women. Even though Patrick is paid to date Kat, he eventually falls in love with her. It is unknown if Petruchio feels the same way about Kate.
Society has changed since the time of Shakespeare, and it is amazing how much that is reflected in the evolution of his works. People, in general, have become softer. This is not a bad thing, though. Actually, it is a quite brilliant development. Humans as a race have begun to respect the differences in males and females, and even honor them. Shakespeare was a truly genius writer, which is proven by how easily his storylines can be adapted to fit modern society.