Keeping Kate

When I wrote “Great Girls Your Daughter Should Know… Before Reading Twilight” I expected a little controversy.  I expected a lot of “Don’t hate on Twilight” and debate about the books I’d picked – mainly because many of the books  I chose contain multiple adult situations.  I did not expect the Kate Hate.

I’m not a Shakespearean scholar, but spent a good amount of my college and post college years reading, writing about and working on Shakespearean shows so it’s safe to say I’m at best a well read enthusiast.  Today I want to take a few minutes to defend my inclusion of Kate on a list of “Great Girls”.

If you need to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, I’ll direct to the Wikipedia page for now, simply because I want to keep this short and simple.

Here’s the thing folks, I know in today’s society a work like “Shrew” doesn’t really fit into our ideas of what marriage or relationships should look like.  Having “Shrew” on my lists doesn’t mean I’m advocating that wives should be beaten, starved or submissive and I know from a modern point of view that is what it seems like the play is advocating – a strong woman beaten down into humble docility.  So, if that’s the case why is she on the list?

The most important reason I included her on my list is that the play has no one single interpretation and it opens up these topics in the classroom giving male and female students the chance to discuss issues like submissive behavior, changing yourself for a husband/boyfriend, etc.  You can interpret the play as an antiquated piece of misogyny, a simple farce or a complex statement on expected behavior in society. 

It remains on the list because this is a list of books and plays that I would want someone to read before “tackling” Twilight, which (let’s remember) is all about someone changing their behavior, social circle and appearance for the sake of “love” while in a rather abusive relationship.  If you want your daughters to look horrified at all things Edward does to Bella and the way Bella meekly accepts it (when she’s not contemplating suicide) then give them Kate before hand.  Reading a work like “Shrew” and having those discussions about those themes and behaviors will only help make your point about why the Twilight relationship is so unhealthy.

So folks, that’s it in a nutshell.  Kate is not going to be stricken from the list.  She remains on the list with a number of flawed characters because there is something in her story which I believe helps shine light on the faults of the Twilight Series for a young and impressionable audience.  She is on the list for a reason; case closed.

3 thoughts on “Keeping Kate

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  1. I am no Shakespeare fan at all, so I can't weigh in there. I like the Twilight saga, but don't LOVE it so much that I defend it when others criticize it, but I do have to say this. Bella always felt out of step with other people, including her own family. She even felt out of place in time. So I don't think she changed her life out of “love” per se. And Edward frequently begged her to reconsider her human life. I think after thinking on this comment that I have FINALLY figured out the reason I can't jump on the “Twilight is the greatest novel of all time” train- Stephanie Meyer totally screwed up what could have been awesome characters. She makes them way too obsessive and psychopathic. Every once in awhile she'll sprinkle in some rational thought, but it's just too bipolar of a relationship. I don't disagree with you that their relationship is messed up and should NOT be emulated by any means. (Like jumping off a cliff because your boyfriend dumped you.) Twilight is a good story, and if she would have developed her characters with a little more… depth and less teenage hormones it would have been even better.

    Sorry for the rant!

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  2. Haha! No problem, I agree with a lot of what you say. I've often said if the books should have been geared towards an older audience myself and I totally agree she had a lot of themes and subjects she could have touched on other than teenage angst! I actually think you prove my point – we need to talk about these subjects with younger girls so that they can recognize them and know where the stopping point is in enjoying a frivolous little story and romanticizing something that's not healthy!

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  3. well said. I'm not as familiar with Shrew as I am many other of Shakespeare's works, but I am fond of the variety of interpretations I have seen on it. When I read Twilight I was in Iraq and I pretty much devoured all of them. More for the fact that I was in Iraq working night shift with a 2 on 2 off schedule so there was ample time to be an insolative hermit and read anything than thinking they were the best books on earth. But, I was able to like them (in particular the first book) when I didn't think about them on a deep level. Once I'd read them all I kind of felt that stopping at the first book would have been good for me. After I started reading more about the themes and the condensed story line narrative that is extremely creepy I realized how concerned I would be having my daughter read them without my involvement. I read a book called Phantom in Junior High. It was physically and sexually graphic and I was a little shocked it was on the junior high library shelf. My mom even read it years later and was surprised that it would be there too. I liked that book too, but I was an independent child and my mom wasn't involved in my reading content so I had no one to talk to and ask questions of. For me, it's important that we understand what our kids are reading, what age they're reading them, and when the books were written in history so we can give our children the dialogue of exploring literature and its themes without taking them literally. I would hate for my daughter to be in a position where the only character she feels she identifies with is Bella.

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