The Greater Value

"The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare

“The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare

“Glad that you thus continue your resolve / To suck the sweets of sweet philosophy” (Act 1 Scene 1 lines 27-28.) While most may not understand what Tranio, the loyal servant of Lucentio from William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, was saying to his master, most do understand the meaning of “fun.” No matter what the century, man has always fed his craving for entertainment. Even when work must be done and the opportunity of knowledge is in hand, recreation still holds its firm grip on the mind. At times, the value of fun is held higher than that of education and duty. Even relationships are considered more important than education at times.  Today, one can still see this in the number of married people who attend college and those who drop out of high school for relationship-related issues. It is not uncommon for relationships to affect future college plans. As history continues on, man’s love of relaxation and entertainment are carried with it.

Most people will agree that fun is generally more enjoyable than work and learning. The human brain has a constant longing for entertainment and at times a sense of repulsion of learning and putting forth effort to accomplish a task. This is sometimes the explanation for high school and college dropouts. According to the IES National Center for Education Statistics, 42.8% of high school dropouts have no plans for the future and are not currently looking for work and 21.5% of high school graduates do not plan on attending a college and are currently not searching for a job. These people may feel that they would just like to relax and do not want to engage in actual work. They may currently feel that their personal entertainment is the most valuable motive in life at the moment. Living with the headstrong thought that life is not worth living if not enjoyed, they fully embrace it and try to experience all that they can, perhaps unconsciously acquitting their duty of knowledge. These people may have even been persuaded to take this path in life with the frequent amount of college and high school parties and activities such as pep rallies. Although there are studies, exams, and tests to balance and keep up with, people do not fail to find time to forget it all and just have fun. Schools schedule dances to encourage a need for entertainment and students constantly arrange their own parties to occupy their schedule’s weekend slot. While many activities take place after long periods of study and work, some push aside their assignments to quench their thirst for recreation. The human need for entertainment has never been new and even how man values that need has never changed. All throughout history, people have had a tendency to care more for their personal and social interests than that of their studies.

A relationship, along with entertainment and recreation, is another value that is often held above others. Social lives often take control of the lives themselves and may even result in abandoning duties. Some high school dropouts quit due to social problems and some are even forced to resign in order to start a new, unexpected family. When relationships overcome a person’s life, sometimes there’s no more room for the need for knowledge. The person may take a break from his education in order to pursue something that he feels is more important in his future life than his current task. When it comes to attending a college, relationships can become an obstacle once again. Counselors are often ignored when offering college choices due to social lives as people plan to attend colleges where they can continue their current relationships. Future plans are disrupted and some are even discarded completely. Rarely will a person put an end to his social life rather than his educational life. Even subconsciously, future plans of education, careers, and work can be altered. Many people will continue their relationships and put a pause on their educational dreams thinking that they will resume them later. Most of the time, these dreams are never resumed and are forgotten in the past as the social life was given a higher pedestal. Sometimes, however, the person does continue his educational effort and will attend a college many years later, possibly married or with a family. Even now in modern day it is not uncommon to hear the end of somebody’s quest for knowledge due to relationship-related reasons.

In Elizabethan times, this was just as common as today. In Shakespeare’s play Taming of the Shrew, Lucentio, a wealthy young man journeys to Padua to attend a university. “Here let us breathe and haply institute / A course of learning and ingenious studies” (Act 1 Scene 1 lines 8-9) he states. With his mind set and the university just ahead, it seemed as if he was about to delve into his studies be rewarded with newfound knowledge.

It was then, however, that his servant Tranio reminded him of man’s love of relaxation. “Let’s be no stoics nor no stocks, I pray” (Act 1 Scene 1 line 31,) he said. “No profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en” (Act 1 Scene 1 line 39.) After Tranio stated his view on life, Lucentio was quickly persuaded to abandon his studies and enjoy his life while taking it easy. Not long after deciding to take more pleasure in his life, he meets Bianca and is suddenly urged to pursue a relationship with her, completely forgetting about his future plans and desire for knowledge. Shakespeare displayed the human tendency to honor the values of entertainment and social lives before duties and seeking knowledge just as he saw it in his time and modern day continues to do the same. In a television series called Gilmore Girls, one of the main characters, Rory Gilmore, is portrayed as a person with a deep desire for knowledge and success. All her life she had been planning to attend a high honors high school and to continue on to Harvard to fulfill her passion for writing and become a journalist, possibly writing for her dream, the New York Times. She followed through with her life plan, attending Yale rather than Harvard, but then suddenly halted the plan after her first year of college. After recently starting a new relationship with a boyfriend who constantly took part in risky stunts and slacked in school for the sake of entertainment, she decided to take a break from college and did not attend the following year. Continuing her relationship with her boyfriend, she attended many parties, abandoned her duties, and just relaxed for that moment of her life. Her family and friends were all confused and concerned for her, although if they had glanced back in history, they would have found this to be a naturally occurring event. Rory had fallen victim of man’s love of fun and relaxation and had mistakenly given it a higher place than her life’s dreams. Even today in modern history, what Shakespeare observed still lives on and is continually portrayed.

Although humans enjoy recreation more than accomplishing tasks, it is known that it is generally more successful to strive for accomplishments. Goals and dreams are usually set; however, temptations can arise and values can change. William Shakespeare observed these behaviors in humans and accurately recorded them within his plays. Even today we can look back into his past and find the same traits in people that are observable today. Giving into desires, procrastinating, and taking time from work and duties are still carried out today showing the unifying human nature. At times, a person’s value of fun or social relationships can become the greater value.