Teacher Commentary and Reflection
The idea of making a woman more suitable to a man is offensive
to most. The humor that is apparent is couched in the truly
horrible conditions under which Kate must live. Her lack of
choice in how she will live her life is dramatic when compared
to the relative freedom of women today. I wanted my students
to explore these characters and see the ways in which we still
have these types in our modern culture. It was a successful
unit this year that allowed my students to continue to explore
issues of sexism and womens rights as well as to see
the roots of our cultures understanding of femininity and
When I listened to them during class discussion and analyzed
the work that they turned in I discovered that they were very
clear that what we might find offensive now in the US would
not be so offensive during the time that Shakespeare was writing.
They had a strong awareness of the fact that things have changed
dramatically for women in our history and used this to argue
for the plays relevance as a historical text, from which we
could learn about the ways in which society has progressed.
During the Performance project students were actively engaged
in translating and interpreting the text in order to put it
in more modern times. The fact that it didnt take much
to set this play in a modern social setting told all of us
that the plays view of the relationship between women and
men is not so different from the modern perspective. It was
interesting to notice that the scenes set in the equivalent
of a hip-hop style video were a logical and easy fit for students.
Along with some reading of current hip-hop novels by Omar
Tyree and Sister Souljah, I see a direct correlation between
the idea of "taming a shrew" and "keeping your
woman in check". So is this play sexist? Or is society
inherently sexist, both historically and now?