Taming of the Shrew

“The Taming of the Shrew” was written by William Shakespeare about 1590 to 1592. The story begins with a ruse played on a drunk named Christopher Sly. Some hunters come across him passed out in the alley and decide to put him in a beautiful home and convince him his life as a bum was a dream and this is his real life. Then the host puts on a play to distract him. The play is “The Taming of the Shrew”.

The play is about a willful young woman named Katharina who turns away all suitors with her sharp and cutting remarks. She has a violent temper and often lashes out at her sister and anyone else in her path. As her anger and jealousy increases toward her sister, she blames her father for preferring Bianca to her.

Her younger sister, Bianca is beautiful and mild. She is the exact opposite of her sister and is courted by many men. Since their father insists that the older daughter, Katharina marry first, all Bianca’s suitors are thwarted. Baptista has promised a large dowry for his daughters, so the suitors for Bianca’s hand search for someone greedy enough, and willing to take her, to marry Katharina.

One of them, Hortensia, brings his friend, Petruchio to meet Katharina since the man is looking for a rich wife. Petruchio marries her and through a series of denials that he claims are for her own good, manages to ‘tame’ Katharina. Meanwhile, Bianca is being courted by two older gentlemen, but unknown to them, another young man, Lucentio is posing as her tutor and has won her heart. They elope.

Book Summary


Taming of the Shrew opens with an Induction, or an explanatory scene. Christoper Sly, a drunk beggar is arguing with a hostess outside a ale house. She complains that he broke some glasses. When she leaves to fetch the authorities, Sly passes out. Horns sound and a lord who has been hunting enters. He decides to play a trick on Sly. He orders his servants to take the beggar to his home and treat him like he is a lord. To put nice clothes and rings.

“A most delicious banquet by his bed,
And brave attendants near him when he wakes,
Would not the beggar then forget himself?”

His friends all agree it will be a great joke.

“My lord, I warrant you we will play our part,
As he shall think by our true diligence
He is no less than what we say he is.”

A troupe of players enters. They ask to stay with the lord and play for him. He welcomes them but warns them not to be surprised by the actions of the other “lord” in his house. Then he tells his serviceman to find his page boy, Bartholomew. He wants the boy to dress as a woman. When Sly awakens the boy will pretend to be Sly’s wife and act overjoyed that he has gotten over his amnesia. She (He) will tell him that he has thought he was a beggar for the last seven years.

Induction  2

Sly wakes in the lord’s bed. He has been dressed in fine clothing and has servants serving him food. Immediately Sly questions his state. He tells them of his many positions, and none of them include being a lord. The servants put on an over the top performance, but Sly is not convinced until they introduce his wife. He tells the servants to leave and tells his “wife” to take off her (his) clothes. The Page stalls him, by saying that it has been fifteen years, and his doctor warned any strenuous activity could cause a relapse. The troupe enters with plans to entertain them with a play. Sly agrees and asks his “wife” to sit near him while they watch the play.

Act 1, Scene 1

Padua, A Public Place

The scene begins with two men talking, Lucentio and his servant, Tranio. They are discussing Lucentio’s education as Baptista Minola and his daughters, Katherine and Bianca. Bianca is accompanied by two suitors, Hortensio and Gremio. The men are much older than she is. While the two suitors are arguing, the girls’ father says tells the suitors that they can court Katherine, but he will not allow Bianca, who is the youngest, to marry before her sister. The men are vehemently against Katharina as a wife. She responds with threats of violence. “To comb your noddle with a three-legged stool., And paint your face and use you like a fool.”

Tranio tells his master, Lucentio to watch the show that the group is putting on, the woman is quite mad. Lucentio replies that it is her sister he can’t take his eyes from. Bianca exits, but before Baptista leaves, he tells the men that he is looking for a tutor for Bianca. Next Katharina leaves.Hortensio and Gremio continue their arguments. Neither can think of any one who would marry Katharina. But, the two will work together to find someone, Gremio vows to give the man a horse so he can begin his wooing. Then they exit.

Hortensio and Gremio continue their arguments. Neither can think of anyone who would marry Katharina. But, the two will work together to find someone, Gremio vows to give the man a horse so he can begin his wooing. Then they exit.Lucentio and Tranio are left on the stage. They are discussing the two girls, especially Bianca. Lucentio has decided he is in love, but getting to Bianca will be a problem. He and Tranio both come up with the idea for Lucentio to act as her tutor. But, since Lucentio has come to Padua to attend the university, Tranio will have to pose as him and take the classes. When Lucentio’s other servant, Biondello enters, they tell him their plan and enlist his help. Then the three exit the stage.

Lucentio and Tranio are left on the stage. They are discussing the two girls, especially Bianca. Lucentio has decided he is in love, but getting to Bianca will be a problem. He and Tranio both come up with the idea for Lucentio to act as her tutor. But, since Lucentio has come to Padua to attend the university, Tranio will have to pose as him and take the classes. When Lucentio’s another servant, Biondello enters, they tell him their plan and enlist his help. Then the three exit the stage.

The play goes back to Sly, who has been watching the performance with his “wife”. The presenter asks him if he likes it and Sly replies that he does, but he hopes that it is finished so he can spend some time with his “wife”. The page tells him the play has just begun.

Act 1, Scene 2

Padua, before Hortensio’s house.

The scene opens with a young man named, Petruchio and his servant, Grumio, waiting at the door of Hortensio’s house. Petruchio and Hortensio are friends from Verona. After he opens the door, Hortensio welcomes them into his home and asks Petruchio what his plans are. Petruchio says that he is in town looking for a wife. He has inherited his family’s estates and wants to find the daughter of a rich man to supplement his fortune. Hortensio sees this as an opportune blessing. He would like to get a husband for Katherina, so he can marry Bianca.

Hortensio does warn his friend, Petruchio that the woman is a shrew, but he doesn’t care. He is only interested in the fact that she has a rich father. Since Petruchio knows her father, he doesn’t need Hortensio to introduce him. Therefore, Hortensio devises the plan to dress like a school master and have Petruchio introduce him as Bianca’s tutor.

Soon, all the players who are switching identities meet. Lucentio, who is posing as a schoolmaster, is brought by Gremio. Although Lucentio assures Gremio he is going to push his suit for Bianca, “Whate’er I read to her, I’ll plead for you”, he is actually courting Bianca himself. Then there is Hortensio, who had plans to pose as a schoolmaster, himself, but is bringing Petruchio, who will be courting Katharina. As the men are conversing, Tranio, who is posing as Lucentio so he can attend his classes, arrives with Biondello, Petruchio’s other servant.

Tranio asks directions to Baptista’s home, but Gremio and Hortensio worry that he is another possible suitor for Bianca and try to warn him off. He tells them that he will court her if he wants, “Fair Leda’s daughter had a thousand wooers.”Lucentio has arranged for Tranio to arrive and distract Gremio and Hortensio. Tranio convinces the suitors they can all be friends and treats them to a drink at the pub.

Lucentio has arranged for Tranio to arrive and distract Gremio and Hortensio. Tranio convinces the suitors they can all be friends and treats them to a drink at the pub.ACT 2, SCENE 1 Padua. A Room in Baptista’s House.

Act 2, Scene 1 Padua

A Room in Baptista’s House.

The scene opens with Katharina and Bianca. Katharina has tied her sister’s hands behind her back and is chasing her around the room. She demands to know which suitor her sister prefers. But, the fight is stopped by their father, who shows favoritism to Bianca, further antagonizing Katharina. Both sisters leave the stage angrily. Enter Gremio with Lucentio, who is dressed as a schoolmaster, and Hortensio, also dressed as a schoolmaster with Petruchio. Coming along behind is Tranio dressed as Lucentio and Biondello, the servant.

The introductions begin with Petruchio who asks to see Katharina and offers Hortensio as a music instructor named, Litio. Then, Gremio steps in with his offer of Lucento as a classical language instructor named Cambio. Then Tranio steps up with a gift of books and a lute and asks to woo Bianca. Baptista accepts all the gifts but is surprised Petruchio thinks to woo Katharina and warns him about her temper. “She is not for your turn, the more my grief.”

A servant enters and takes Lucentio, Hortensio, and Biondello to act as tutors for the girls. As Baptista and Petruchio are discussing Katharina’s dowry, Hortensio returns with his head damaged. Seems that Katharina took offense to his teaching method and hit him on the head with the lute he was trying to teach with. This makes Petruchio even more determined to woo her. Baptista offers to take Hortensio to tutor Bianca and send Katharina to meet Petruchio alone. He plans to woo her by turning all her sharp words around to pleasant remarks.

Petruchio begins their conversation by calling her Kate, which she corrects to Katharina. After some barbs back and forth, Kate slaps Petruchio. He grabs her wrist and warns her that if she strikes him again, he will hit her back. Then he tells her that although he had heard bad things about her nature, he was glad to see she was so mild. He also tells her he has settled things with her father and they were to be wed. When her father enters, Petruchio tells him that he and Katharina have reached a deal and they will be wed on Sunday. Even though Katherine denies it, her father believes Petruchio and shakes on the deal, with Gremio and Tranio as witnesses.

After Katharina and Petruchio leave, Gremio and Tranio renew their suits for Bianca. Baptista says he will give her to the highest bidder. Tranio’s offer is largest, but after the other two men leave the stage, we learn that he lied, and must come up with a rich father for Lucentio.

Act 3, Scene 1

Padua. Baptista’s House

Bianca is at lessons with Lucentio and Hortensio. She chooses to study Latin with Lucentio and tells Hortensio to tune his lute. After Lucentio declares his love in nonsense Latin, and tells her who he is, Bianca answers him in the same nonsense Latin. She tells him that although she doesn’t trust him, he still has a chance. Then, after he leaves and she takes her lessons from Hortensio, and he also declares his love, she turns him down. After she leaves to prepare for her sister’s wedding the next day, Hortensio consoles himself by deciding that if he can’t have Bianca, there are other women available.

Act 3, Scene 2

Padua. Before Baptista’s House.

The scene begins with Baptista, Gremio, Tranio, Katharina, Bianca and Lucentio entering, along with attendants. The group is waiting for Petruchio to arrive, but he is late. Katharina thinks that Petruchio makes a habit of wooing women and then dumping them. “Who woo’d in haste and means to wed at leisure.” Katharina leaves humiliated and in tears. Bianca follows her. But, before Baptista can leave, too, Biondello runs up with news that Petruchio is arriving with a dumpy wagon and a broken down horse. Baptista asks him to go home and change into better clothing for the wedding. But, he refuses and goes on to the church and Kate. Everyone but Lucentio and Tranio follow.

Act 3, Scene 3

Still before Baptista’s house.

Lucentio and Tranio are discussing Lucentio’s chances with Bianca. Lucentio thinks the best idea may be to elope. Then Gremio returns with a report on the wedding. Petruchio was loud and obnoxious. He hit the priest, threw food and used foul language. When the priest offered to call off the marriage, Petruchio said to get on with it. Then the rest of the party return, but before the wedding feast can begin, Petruchio whisks his new wife away. Everyone else resumes the celebration without the groom and bride. Babtista wants to discuss the coming wedding of Lucentio and Bianca.

Act 4, Scene 1

Petruchio’s Country House

Grumio arrives at Petruchio’s house first. He meets another servant, Curtis, and tells him about the trip. Kate fell in the mud, Petruchio is angry, the horses run away. The servants line up to greet them, but Petruchio is not pleased and demands dinner. Then he complains that the dinner is burnt and sends it back. Since Kate is tired and hungry, she asks him to take it easy on the servants. But, he says that she deserves only the best. Then he tells her to go to bed. After she leaves, Petruchio tells the audience that he plans to keep her from sleeping and eating, tormenting her until he breaks her. He says she is like a wild falcon, and he will tame her. “This is the way to kill a wife with kindness.”

Act 4, Scene 2

Padua. Before Baptista’s house.

The scene opens with Tranio and Hortensio. The two men notice Lucentio flirting with Bianca, and Tranio pretends to be outraged. He vows to turn away from her and persuades Hortensio to do the same. After Hortensio leaves, Tranio tells Lucentio and Bianca the good news. Hortensio has decided to marry a rich widow, but first he wants to check out Petruchio’s methods of controlling his wife, “a taming-school” that is used, “To tame a shrew and charm her chattering tongue.”

Soon Biondello runs to them with news that he has found a man to play the part of Lucentio’s father. Tranio speaks the Pedant, or schoolmaster, and convinces him to pose as his father for his own safety. The Pedant is from Madua and Tranio convinces him that the leaders of Padua have vowed to kill all men from Madua. But, if he will pose as his father, Vincentio, he will protect him.

Act 4, Scene 3

A Room in Petruchio’s House.

Katharina and Grumio enter the stage. Katharina is trying to get Grumio to bring her something to eat, but he gives her the same sidestepping her husband has been doing. Finally, she hits him and tells him to leave. The Petruchio and Hortensio enter with meat. Petruchio offers her some, but before she can get too much eaten, the tailor arrives.

Once again, Petruchio does his sidestepping with the clothes the tailor was to make for her. None of the cloth or designs are good enough for his “sweet Kate”. So they will have to go to her father’s house in rags. He tells her they will leave at noon, but when she tries to tell him that noon has already passed, Petruchio reprimands her for disagreeing with him on the time of day, and they will go the next day, and when they do, it will be whatever time he says it is.

Act 4, Scene 4

Padua. Before Baptista’s House.

Tranio dressed as Lucentio and the Pedant dressed as Vincentio enter the stage. They rehearse the part with Biondello. Soon Baptista and Lucentio (still dressed as Cambio the schoolmaster) enter. The Pedant convinces Baptista that he approves of Tranio’s wedding. So they leave to finalize the details. Soon Biondello returns and informs Lucentio he has arranged a priest to marry him to Bianca. The elopement is ready.

Act 4, Scene 5

A Public Road.

Enter Petruchio, Katharina, Hortensio and some servants. The group is finally heading to her father’s house. Petruchio says the moon is full, Katharina says it is daytime, but when he says they must turn around, she agrees with whatever he says just to keep the group moving. Finally, he stops arguing about the time of day, but when Vincentio walks up, he makes her admit he is a woman. One of his methods of “taming” her is to make her agree with whatever he says, right or wrong. Vincentio agrees to accompany the group to Padua, since he is going to see his son, Lucentio and meet his new bride. Then to the side, Hortensio says that he is confident in marrying the widow, he will use Petruchio’s methods if she is ‘froward’.

Act 5, Scene 1

Padua. Before Lucentio’s House.

Biondello rushes Bianca and Lucentio to the priest for the elopement. Then Petruchio, Katharina, Vincentio and Grumio arrive. The Pendant tries to have Vincentio arrested attesting that the man is trying to impersonated him. There is a scuffle while the misunderstanding grows, especially when Biondello doesn’t acknowledge the real Vincentio. The Pendant calls for Tranio and Baptista to help with the man who ‘claims’ to be Vincentio. When Tranio tries to keep the ruse going, Vincento becomes more angry while he tries to out Tranio.

They call for the police to take away the ‘mad man’ Vincentio, but before he can be arrested, Lucentio and Bianca return. While the real Lucentio bows before his father, Tranio, Biondello and the Pendant beat a hasty retreat. Soon, Lucentio reveals all the tricks of identity they played on Baptista.

Although, Baptista and Vincentio are angry about the tricks played on them, they decide to let it go, for now. But they are plotting their revenge. Everyone leaves except Kate and Petruchio. She is curious and wants to follow the group to see what happens next, but Petruchio tells her to kiss him first. She tries to say no since it is the middle of the street, but when he begins to order the return home, she relents.

Act 5, Scene 2.

Padua. Lucentio’s House.

This scene begins with all the players at dinner. Lucentio is giving a feast to celebrate all the recent marriages. Lucentio and Bianca, Petruchio and Katharina, and Hortensio with his widow. Kate takes offense from remarks made by the widow about her and Petruchio, “Your husband, being troubled with a shrew, measures my husband’s sorrow by his woe.” The men try to urge the women to fight, but Bianca steps in to calm the situation and has the women retire with her.

The men don’t believe that Petruchio has tamed Kate, so he proposes a wager. They will each call for their wives, and the first one to come wins. First Lucentio calls for Bianca, but the servant returns to say that she is too busy and can not come. Then Hortensio’s wife thinks he is kidding and tells him to come to her. Last, Petruchio commands Kate to come to him, whereas the other two asked their wives. She enters immediately and asks him what is his will. When he asks her where the other two women are, she tells him they are talking by the fire. He sends her to fetch them and if she has to force them to come, so be it.

Soon, Kate returns dragging the other two wives with her. They are angry at the jest, but then Petruchio has Kate reprimand the other women on their wifely duties. He says “kiss me, Kate,” and they go off to bed, with Petruchio the winner of the wager and some substantial money, leaving Hortensio and Lucentio to wonder at the twists of fate.

Character Analysis

Katharina – the shrew of the play. She has a terrible temper, and is cruel to any man who tries to court her. Her quick wit and sharp words cover a deep seated insecurity and jealousy to her mild sister, Bianca. Although, she reputes the idea of marriage, when she can’t scare off Petruchio, she begins to relent to him and tries to make their marriage work.

Petruchio – he comes to Padua from Verona and plans to find a rich wife. He is loud, boisterous and rough. Petruchio is also quick witted and eccentric, although drunk quite often. When he finds out about Katharina he sets out to marry her and tame her like he would a falcon. Petruchio denies her food, because none of it is good enough for her. He denies her rest, because the bedding is not good enough. Then clothing, because the tailors are not providing the best materials. All of this is done while exclaiming his love to her.

Bianca – the youngest daughter of Baptista. She is beautiful and quiet. Almost every man who sees her wants to court her, but, she cannot marry before her older sister, Katharina. When she agrees to elope with Lucentio, she disobeys her father, which is surprising for her meek character.

Baptista – the father of Katharina and Bianca. He is one of the riches men in Padua, but even with the huge dowry he is offering for his daughters, he can’t find anyone willing to marry Katharina because of her shrewish nature. He insists that Katharina marry first.

Lucentio – a young student. He arrives in Padua to study at the university, but sees Bianca and it is love at first sight. He convinces Gremio to present him to Baptista as a teacher of the classics, by the name of Cambio, when he hears that Baptista is looking for teachers for his daughters. Although he does get Bianca to fall in love and elope, his ruse is discovered by his father, and her father, which gets him in trouble.

Tranio – Lucentio’s servant, who poses as Lucentio while he plays the schoolmaster. Tranio is funny, tricky and thinks up lies quickly. He also negotiates with Baptista for Lucentio to marry Bianca while he is playing the part of Luncentio.

Hortensio – one of the suitors for Bianca. He poses as a music instructor in order to get closer to her, but still loses her to Lucentio. He also introduces his friend, Petrucio to Baptist so he can marry Katharina and remove her as an obstacle. Later he marries a widow when he loses Bianca.

Gremio – although he and Hortensio are much older than Bianca, they both court her. He brings Lucentio in as the tutor, thinking that he is Cambio.

Biondello – Lucentio’s servant, who poses as Tranio’s servant when he is posing as Lucentio. He assists them with their plots and arranges for the priest so Lucentio and Bianca can elope.

Grumio – another of Lucentio’s servants. He is the comic relief while he bumbles about.

William Shakespeare Biography

William Shakespeare (1564. – 1616.) was a great English and also world playwright.

He was born in Stratford-on-Avon in 1564. He was the oldest of eight children and he lived in a wealthy family.

A little is known about his life. 1582. he married Ann Hathway that was eight years older than he was. Soon after that, they got a daughter Susann and twins Judith and Hamlet.

Until 1592. he gets off the radar and after that, he gets involved with writing and acting in London. Soon after that his poems ‘’Venus and Adonis’’ and ‘’The rape of Lucrece’’ were published.

He wrote a lot and his plays were happily performed by many. He became a co-owner of The Globe theater. In the last years of his life, he decides to go back to Stanford where he dies in 1616.

Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and they are divided to history plays, comedies, tragedies and romance.

His most famous works are “Henry IV”, “Richard III”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Taming of the Shrew”, “The comedy of errors”, “Two gentlemen of Verona”, “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Measure for measure”, “Winter’s tale”…