William Shakespeare – The Taming of the Shrew (Summary)

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE

  • Christopher Sly – A drunken tinker.
  • Baptista – The father of Katherine and Bianca, who negotiates with their suitors.
  • Katherine – A strong, opinionated woman with a reputation that precedes her.
  • Bianca – Katherine’s younger sister, who is the object of affection for several suitors.
  • Petruccio – A gentleman of Verona who travels to Padua to marry into a wealthy family.
  • Grumio – Petruccio’s servant, who taunts Katherine with food when his master has forbidden her to eat.
  • Gremio – An old wealthy man who is in love with Bianca.
  • Hortensio – Bianca’s suitor, who disguises himself as the teacher Licio in order to gain access to her.
  • Lucentio – A young man from Pisa who disguises himself as the teacher Cambio in order to woo Bianca.
  • Vincentio – Lucentio’s father who travels to Padua and is shocked to discover that another man has assumed his identity.
  • Tranio – Lucentio’s servant who pretends to be his master while his master plays the part of Cambio.
  • Biondello – Another servant to Lucentio.

A drunken tinker called Christopher Sly argues with the hostess of an alehouse and is thrown out. A passing Lord and his servants trick him into believing that he is a lord, and invite him to watch a play.

Christopher Sly settles down to watch a play, wrongly believing himself to be a lord.

The play is set in Italy and begins with Lucentio and his servant Tranio arriving in Padua. They overhear Baptista Minola explaining to Hortensio and Gremio, suitors to his daughter Bianca, that they cannot marry her until a husband is found for Katherine, his eldest daughter. Lucentio also falls in love with Bianca, and plans to beat the other suitors for her hand in marriage. He decides to don a disguise and offer his services as her tutor, and instructs his servant, Tranio, to impersonate him.

Lucentio spies Bianca and hatches a plan to woo her.

Hortensio’s friend Petruccio arrives in Padua and declares his intention to marry a woman with
a large dowry. Hortensio suggests Katherine Minola and Petruccio determines to woo, win, and wed her, despite her shrewish reputation.

Petruccio comes to woo Katherine and presents Licio (Hortensio in disguise) as a music master for the sisters; Hortensio will attempt to woo Bianca, while Petruccio secures his marriage to her sister. Gremio enlists Lucentio (disguised as Cambio) to woo on his behalf, while Tranio, already disguised as Lucentio, continues to woo Bianca for his master.

After a lively exchange of words with Katherine, Petruccio confirms his intention to marry her, and a date is set for the wedding. The wedding party is kept waiting due to Petruccio’s late arrival, but when he appears, his clothing does not befit the occasion. Petruccio then declares that he and his wife will not attend the wedding dinner, but return to his home immediately.

Katherine asks Petruccio to stay for their wedding dinner to no avail.

Petruccio denies his wife food and sleep in an attempt to tame her shrewish behavior. Having revealed his true identity, Lucentio wins Bianca’s heart, leaving Hortensio to marry a widow. Lacking funds, Lucentio and Tranio convince a merchant to imitate Lucentio’s father, Vincentio.
All is well until Lucentio’s real father arrives, and is bemused to meet the impostor.

Lucentio’s father, Vincentio, is confronted by a merchant assuming his identity.

The confusion is explained by Lucentio. As Katherine and Petruccio return to Padua for a banquet, Katherine obeys Petruccio’s commands. Petruccio wagers that his wife will prove more obedient than both Lucentio and Hortensio’s wives. When the men call for their wives to attend them, only Katherine appears; Petruccio wins the wager. Katherine speaks forcefully to the other women about what is expected of a good wife, and about the nature of the relationship between husband and wife. The guests are left surprised by Katherine’s transformation.

To read complete play of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, click on the below link-

The Taming of the Shrew – ORIGINAL TEXT

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