Taming the beast behind male courtship
“Taming of the shrew” and “Beauty and the beast”
In “Taming of the shrew” the abusive, controlling Petruchio was a symbol of how men were dominant over women at the time, restricting their rights and opinion when it came to courting or relationships. In the 1991 movie “Beauty and the Beast”, the two main male characters, The Beast and Gaston, act the same way to the love interest, Belle. Although The Beast is not as abusive and controlling as Petruchio, he still forced Belle into a relationship she may have not wanted to start in the first place. He trapped Belle in his castle, and forced her to eventually fall in love with him. Today, the still evident dominant male role in relationships allows men to use anything to get the girl he wants- including forcefulness and deception.
In both “Taming of the Shrew” and “Beauty and the Beast”, the male characters used deception to win the hearts of their love interest. Both relationships were established on a lie or lies. For example, (towards the end of the movie) Gaston used the lie that Belle’s father was insane, then bribed the insane asylum owner to take him away. This would force Belle to marry Gaston in order to save her father. Gaston offered her two options- Let her father be put away forever or marry Gaston and let her father go. This forced Belle into a position where she was helpless to decide her marital fate.
The above scene shows that Belle did not want to marry Gaston, and if it had not been for the Beast, another love interest, she would have been forced to marry Gaston.
Katherine faced a similar situation- Petruchio lied to Baptista, claiming that he loved Katherine, when in reality he was just marrying her for her money. He then assured Baptista that Katherine would be well taken care of and provided for (another lie) which was in a way bribing Baptista to let Katherine marry him. Although both of the female characters were strong-willed and independent, they were both forced into bad situations by a male interested in them. This reflects that some relationships that women have with a male partner were forced upon them or are established on lies.
Katherine was trapped into a relationship with Petruchio before she met him. He quickly devised a plan to “win her heart” (or her fathers acceptance) by pretending to be something he was not-
act 2 sc 1 p 87- “and woo her with some spirit when she comes!...then I’ll commend her volubility” (Petruchio)
Petruchio used his cunning, lies, and forceful manner to trick both Baptista and Katherine into thinking he was a viable suitor. He continued to pretend to be something he wasn’t around others in order to keep up the rouse.
In “Beauty and the Beast” the Beast also trapped Belle into a situation she could not get out of. Her father stumbled upon the Beast’s castle, then was thrown in the dungeon by the monster himself. Belle, afraid for her father, bargained with the Beast to let him go. The Beast, realizing what he could gain from this, instead trapped Belle into his castle, forcing her to eventually court him. If Belle was never trapped in his castle, she likely wouldn’t have fallen for him. He used his power to claim dominance over Belle; he also lied about who he truly was. It mentioned at the beginning of the movie that he was once a handsome prince. He neglected to inform Belle the truth, thus also establishing their relationship on a lie.
Belle is shocked and confused about the Beast’s transformation, realizing (like Petruchio) he wasn’t what he truly was.
“What, did he marry me to famish me?” (katherine)
p. 163 act 4 sc 3
Katherine was also shocked and confused once the newlyweds got home and Petruchio began abusing her. In the movie, the Beast also abused Belle by withholding food in the beginning of the movie.
Since both women were still won over by the male interest by the end of the play or movie, this again reflects that men were able to use anything at their disposal to get what they wanted. In “Taming of the Shrew” Katherine was tamed and married by the end, reflecting how much power men had at that time. However, despite “Beauty and the Beast” being a modern kids movie, it also showed the dominant male getting the girl. This indicates society's need to see the dominant male character get the girl he wants, regardless of what tactics he uses to achieve her.