400 Years of Evolving Values?

Essay by rarwdinosaursHigh School, 11th gradeA-, July 2007

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“Texts can both reflect and challenge the values of the particular historical and cultural contexts in which they were composed.”Discuss this statement in relation to "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Ten Things I Hate About You".

Texts written at a particular time can not only reflect the values of that time, but they can also challenge and question the values of the historical and cultural contexts of the time. This is evident in the two texts – The Taming of the Shrew, a play written for the Elizabethan masses by William Shakespeare composed in the 17th Century, and Ten Things I Hate About You, a modern filmic “teen-pic” appropriation of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Gil Junger filmed in the 21st Century which both reflect and challenge the values of their particular historical and cultural contexts. The Taming of the Shrew is written in an Elizabethan context and reflects a society where women are treated as commodities and subordinate to males, with no control of their destinies.

The play reflects and challenges the values of a patriarchal society – gender constructs (the authority of men over women and their power to control the women, the “active” male and the “passive” female), respect for authority, intolerance for nonconformity and marriage in Elizabethan society. The modern-day context of Ten Things I Hate about You is targeted towards adolescents, utilizing the “teen-pic” genre of film. The appropriation reflects the values of the 21st century – “equity” between genders, undermining authority, and the valuing of non-conformity. However, it also challenges the values by questioning how much our values have advanced since Elizabethan times. Ultimately, there are three values that remain at the core of the two texts – the role of patriarchy in social structure; the consequences of...