The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

The Taming of the Shrew is one of William Shakespeare's most well-known and frequently performed comedic plays. It dates back to 1590-1592, and would have been performed soon after it was written.

The play begins with an explanatory scene in which a nobleman decides to trick the drunkard Christopher Sly into believing that he is not a tinker but actually a lord. After he has been convinced by the mischievous nobleman, and begins to believe the ruse, a play is performed as part of Sly's diversion.

The play that is performed for Sly features the "shrew," Katherina, who is the oldest daughter of a lord in Padua named Baptista Minola. Katherina's nickname is a comment on her temperament, it is said no man would ever want to marry her. Her younger sister Bianca on the other hand, does not have the same reputation, and two men are vying for her hand. The two suitors are Hortensio and Gremio, and Baptista has not given either man his consent to marry Bianca until Katherina is wed.

The two suitors aren't happy about that news, but they agree to work out a plan that marries off Katherina, so they can both prove their true love to Bianca. As they plot to woo Bianca, another one of her admirers appears as Lucentio falls in love with Bianca. He disguises himself as a Latin tutor after hearing that Baptista needs to hire a teacher for his daughters.

A man named Petruchio arrives in Padua from Verona with his servant Grumio. His goal is to wed someone, a decision he made after the death of his father. He explains this to Hortensio, an old friend, and Hortensio sees an opportunity to marry off Katherina. Hortensio, yet another hopeful suitor for Bianca, tells Petruchio to present him as a music tutor named Litio for both sisters. Both pretend suitors try to woo Bianca unbeknownst to each other.

Petruchio begins trying to woo the difficult Katherina, and succeeds when she allows herself to become engaged after Petruchio engages reverse psychology, tricking her. After a comical wedding ceremony, Katherina is taken home with Petruchio against her will wherein he begins starting to "tame the shrew." Petruchio forces her to agree with everything he says, no matter how absurd, and refuses her food or clothing, saying nothing is good enough for her.

Meanwhile, the suitors scheme and compete to win Bianca. Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) bid for her hand but to confirm the dowry amount he needs to come up with a fake father to provide it. He also convinces Hortensio that Bianca is not worth his affections. When a passerby is persuaded to pretend to be the father, Baptista is happy to give her away. But Bianca, all the while aware of the deception, secretly elopes with Lucentio (Tranio's real alter-ego.) The confusion mounts until finally the young couple is found out and Lucentio is forgiven by the two fathers. Hortensio pleases himself by finding and marrying a rich widow.

The final scene of the play finds the three newly wedded couples; Hortensio and the widow, Bianca and Lucentio, and Katherina and Petruchio. The men quarrel about which wife is the most obedient and Lucentio and Hortensio laugh that Katherina is the shrew. Petruchio proposes a wager to prove that she has been tamed by testing the three wives to each be sent for by a servant. Whoever comes the most obediently to their husband is the winner.

Katherina wins the wager for Petruchio and then gives a speech on why women should obey their husbands. The play concludes with all marveling at how brilliantly Petruchio has tamed his shrew.