Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Committee Member

Culliton, Kaytlin M.

Committee Member

Duffy, Stephen M.

Committee Member

Niemeyer, Paul J.


This thesis investigates the difference between Shakespeare’s written work The Taming of the Shrew and twentieth-century film director Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation in 1967, specifically the final outcome in the issue of power of Katherine’s character. While some scholars consider Shakespeare a proto-feminist who endows Katherine with cleverness, wit, and cunning to secretly tame Petruchio in order to gain personal freedom within the walls of a forced marriage, Zeffirelli denies Katherine dignity in the face of public humiliation and physical violence. Furthermore, Zeffirelli also undermines Shakespeare’s progressive agenda by perpetuating an oppressive narrative against women using twentieth-century film as his medium of mass influence. This thesis aims to prove that Shakespeare weaves subtle clues in his written text that support the belief that Katherine publicly performs an inauthentic—albeit, convincing— submission in her final speech to demonstrate her invisible grasp of power; ironically, she hoodwinks Petruchio by violating the expectation of silence prescribed to the female sex. This pretension of total devotion to Petruchio works to delude him into believing he has tamed Katherine. The disparities between the original text and Zeffirelli’s film illuminate how contemporary social climates challenge and perpetuate fixed ideas about gender. Whereas Shakespeare was aware of the static gender norms of his time and included elements of this culture in his works, he also included new cultural and social possibilities with radical ideas—like a strong female lead who gets her way after all—to further the progress of women’s liberation in England. Zeffirelli, on the other hand, caters to the male gaze that sustains a female-enslavement culture and sees to quash the women’s liberation movement in 1960s America.