The Taming of the Shrew was a play written by the great English playwright, William Shakespeare. Its relevance to today’s context has been strongly diminished although some might argue that it still remains important in perspective. The play was written during the 15th century and incorporated the class, values, and the society of the Elizabethean era. The relevance of 15th century culture is minimal to today’s audiences as society has evolved during these centuries to what we have today. But on the other hand, some cultural phenomena remain unchanged through the ages and never will.
The Taming of the Shrew has lost all relevance to the context of today’s society. The old Elizabethan values and attitudes have long since evaporated. The play was written for an audience of variable social standing. For the Upper Class, intelligent comments and references to the canon or the high culture of the time. “For patience she will prove a second Grissel, and Roman Lucrece for her chastity” (Act2 Scene1, lines 290-292) These allusions to mythology have absolutely no meaning to today’s audiences; though they were relevant to the Elizabethan audience. Today’s audiences would not understand these high cultural remarks and Shakespearean jests and the meaning would be lost. The relevance of the play to audiences of today is minimal due to the language barrier that prevents understanding of some important pivotal points. “Why, tis very moulded on a porringer, A velvet dish, Fie, Fie, “tis lewd and filthy” (Act4 Scene3, line 64-65) This type of old English is hard to comprehend for today’s readers, so the contextual quality will be wasted. for today’s readers, so the contextual quality will be wasted.
But on the other hand, it is undeniably true that some of the values of this Renaissance period still hold in today’s society: Male dominance, appearance verse reality and class distinctions. Although class distinctions have generally been disintergrated, it continues to hold on to some of the more meagre entities of our world. For example, airliners use a system of First Class, Business Class, and Economy Class. Obvioulsy the first class passengers being rich and have money to burn, and the Economy Class comparatively become poorer lower class. Male dominance is a relevant issue to our current society. In both societies, women and men are not treated as equals and women acquire less respect than men. “She is my goods, my chattels, she is my house” (Act3 Scene2, Line 230-232) Here Petruchio demonstrates the typical attitudes towards women in the 15th century, a long time before the feminist movement. The misogynist society has only evolved to a more subtle and damper version as our present society. Although the way that women were married for money has changed, the general inequality remains; thus the relevance to the audiences and readers of today.
The Taming of the Shrew is a play that satirizes the values of the Elizabethan society. As Shakespeare was a man ahead of his time, his plays were universally relevant to audiences of any period or any location. As the great literacy masters such as Ben Jonson put it “timeless”.