The Taming of the Shrew
This is a play within a play. The initial action begins when a lord and his entourage discover a drunken tinker by the name of Christopher Sly sleeping outside a tavern. For sport, the lord convinces Christopher that he is of nobility. The lord takes Christopher to a play where begins the main focus of The Taming of the Shrew.
The second play begins:
Baptista Minola is the father of two daughters, Katherine and Bianca. Bianca, the younger of the two, is beautiful and because she appears to be submissive, she is obviously favored by her father. Baptista wants to marry Bianca to a man of great wealth but pledges to do so only after his other daughter, Katherine, is married. Katherine is also beautiful but possesses the nature of a shrew. In defense against her father's preferential treatment of Bianca and Bianca's own manipulations, Katherine becomes quick-tempered and very strong-willed.
A visitor to the city, Petruchio, hears about Baptista's desire to rid himself of Katherine by marrying her off to anyone that will have her. To acheive his own goal of marrying for money, Petruchio weds Katherine and begins the task of taming her. Throughout the play Petruchio "tames" his "Kate" by intellectual means but never uses physical force. He develops strong affection for her. Katherine begins to return these feelings and submits to Petruchio's will by the end of the play.
Bianca is wooed by three characters--all in disguise. Hortensio and Lucentio pretend to be her tutors while Tranio (who is actually a servant to Lucentio) pretends to be of noble blood. Lucentio and Bianca fall in love and marry. Ironically, Bianca becomes the daughter who is the least accommodating to her husband and demonstrates a very strong will to do as she pleases by the end of the play.
Christopher Sly - a drunken tinker who allows himself to duped that he is of noble birth. He appears at the beginning of the play and disappears soon after.
Katherine - the elder of the two daughters. She has earned the reputation for being shrew in defense against her father's obvious favoritism of her younger sister.
Bianca - the younger of the two daughters. She manipulates her father and those around her into doing her will while appearing submissive.
Baptista Minola - a man who obviously favors his younger child. He is willing to "sell" Bianca to the highest bidder and wants to rid himself of Katherine.
Petruchio - he marries Katherine after vowing to tame her. His primary motivation is to wed a rich wife but he later develops feelings of affection towards Katherine.
Lucentio - he disguises himself as a tutor for Bianca in an effort to win her love. They marry and he becomes the "servant" of Bianca.
Tranio - he is the servant of Lucentio. Lucentio persuades Tranio to adopt his identity in an effort to divert Baptista Minola's attention away from Lucentio's role as a tutor.
Hortensio - he also becomes a tutor for Bianca in an effort to win her hand in marriage. Later he abandons his suit of Bianca after becoming disillusioned by her behavior towards Lucentio.
Vincentio - he is the father of Lucentio and fears that Lucentio has come to harm after recognizing Tranio masquerading as Lucentio.
"That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter
Before I have a husband for the elder."
-- Baptista Minola Act I scene i
"One rich enough to be Petruchio's wife--
As wealth is burden of my wooing dance--
Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,
As old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd
As Socrates' Xanthippe, or a worse,
She moves me not, or not removes, at least,
Affection's edge in me, were she as rough
As are the swelling Adriatic seas.
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua."
-- Petruchio Act I scene ii
"And where two raging fires meet together
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury
Though little fire grows great with little wind,
Yet extreme gusts will blow out fir and all."
-- Petruchio Act II scene i
"For I am he born to tame you, Kate.
And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate
Conformable as other household Kates."
-- Petruchio Act II scene i
"This is a way to kill a wife with kindness;
And thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humor."
-- Petruchio Act IV scene i
"Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks,
Shall win my love."
-- Hortensio Act IV scene ii
"Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor,
For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich"
-- Petruchio Act IV scene iii
"Come on, and kiss me, Kate"
-- Petruchio Act V scene ii