The Taming of the Shrew condensed

Lucentio tells his servant Tranio how pleased he is to be in Padua, “nursery of the arts, the pleasant garden of great Italy.”  Well-heeled, happy, high-energy Lucentio, a young man from Pisa, has come to Padua, he says, to immerse himself in the happiness branch of philosophy that leads to virtue. More practical Tranio diplomatically suggests to Lucentio that to “resolve to suck the sweets of sweet philosophy” is noble, but “in brief, sir, study what you most like.”  Lucentio hears him, saying “Thanks, Tranio, well dost thou advise.”

Act 1. Baptista Minola, Katherine and Bianca’s father, enters, along with Hortensio, one of Bianca’s suitors. Bianca is a knock-out. Katherine is seriously envious of the attention her younger sister receives from men. Lucentio instantly falls for Bianca, he and Tranio having stepped aside. Baptista tells Hortensio that Bianca is off limits as a bride until her sister is married. A discouraged Bianca leaves for home, saying “my books and instruments shall be my company.”  To get nearer Bianca, Lucentio decides to disguise himself as a schoolteacher, having Tranio disguise himself as himself, knowing that Baptista knows Vincentio of Pisa, his father. Meanwhile, Petruchio a well-heeled and focused young man from Verona arrives to visit his friend Hortensio, telling Hortensio that “I come to wive wealthily in Padua; if wealthily, then happily in Padua.” Hortensio tells him he has the perfect wife for him: Katherine Minola. Hortensio lets him in on his plan. Petruchio likes what he hears. The charismatic Petruchio is to introduce a disguised Hortensio to Baptista as a schoolteacher. He does. Hortensio then introduces Petruchio to Baptista as “a gentleman who will undertake to woo curst Katherine.” Disguised-as-a-schoolteacher Lucentio lets Hortensio know he too is interested in Bianca.  They get along just fine, teaming up to match-up Petruchio with Katherine, a challenge that must be met if either is to win Bianca.

Act 2. Meanwhile in the Minola home, Katherine and Bianca fuss with each other. Petruchio enters and introduces a disguised Hortensio as a man “skilled in music and math.” Petruchio lets Baptista know of his interest in Katherine, Baptista responding “Well mayst thou woo, and happy be thy speed.” A disguised Lucentio is introduced as a teacher of “Greek and Latin.” Baptista hires them both as Bianca’s teachers. Charming Petruchio woos Katherine, she liking the attention, not knowing quite what to make of it. He does win her father. A wedding is set. The disguised teachers scramble to win Bianca. Baptista sets up an auction of sorts, announcing that he who “can assure my daughter greatest dower shall have my Bianca’s love.”  Baptista lets disguised-as-Lucentio Tranio know that if Lucentio wins, his father Vincentio “must make her assurance” that the dower is real. But since Baptista knows of Vincentio, Tranio believes he has to come up with a make-believe father for Lucentio. 

Act 3. By now the disguised teachers, Hortensio and Lucentio, are making feverish plays for Bianca’s attention. Aware of the competition, Bianca tells the men “to cut off all strife, here set we down.”  Dealing with both diplomatically, she leaves to help her sister get ready for her wedding. Petruchio is no where to be found, just as the wedding is about to begin.  He arrives at the last moment, absurdly dressed on a broken-down horse. We soon learn second-hand that Petruchio lacked civil deportment during the ceremony, leaving with Katherine right after the wedding, saying “she is his, as is his horse and house.”

Act 4. At his home in the country, the newly married Petruchio continues his effort to tame Katherine, being generally obnoxious, denying her food and sleep. In the Minola home, Hortensio gives up hope of winning Bianca, seeing the disguised Lucentio kissing and whispering to Bianca.  He decides to marry the Widow “who hath loved me from my call long ago.”  Tranio meets a merchant who agrees to play the role of Lucentio’s father. Continuing with little mercy to tease and taunt Katherine, Petruchio makes plans for them to leave for the Minola home. Hearing the persuasive merchant out, the merchant convincing Baptista that Lucentio’s dower is well covered, Baptista agrees that “Vincentio’s son, Lucentio, may marry Bianca.”  By now “Katherine has been Kated.” On their way to her father’s home, Petruchio and Katherine meet the real Vincentio. The three of them travel together to Padua. Hortensio and the Widow marry. Lucentio and Bianca elope.

Act 5. Gremio, an early suitor to Bianca and a friend of Hortensio’s, having earlier been considered somewhat of a fool, steps up and gently calms everyone. In typical Shakespeare fashion, Gremio saves several prospectively embarrassing moments. Lucentio steps in, saying “at long last, our jarring notes agree, and time to smile at escapes and perils past.”  Petruchio has a “tamed” Katherine tell Bianca and the Widow “what duty they owe their husbands.”  Everyone is astonished.