Once upon a time there was an wealthy merchant called Baptista Minola who lived in the Italian city of Padua. He had two daughters, the eldest - Katharina, and the youngest - Bianca. The tradition of courtly love meant that the eldest daughter had to be married first. Unfortunately, no man wanted to marry Katharina because she was out-spoken and fiery. Indeed she did not want a husband because she disliked the way that men treated her. Bianca, in complete contrast to Katharina, attracted many suitors with her fair looks and gentle, modest ways.

Baptista announced to Bianca's suitors, that she was to study and not to see them until her sister was married. The two men, Gremio (old, pantaloon) and Hortensio (young, but equally stupid), decided to find a husband for Katharina so that they could marry Bianca. Petruchio, a wild man from the city, rode into town looking for a wife with lots of money. He heard about Katharina and her dowry. He vowed to meet and "tame" her.

Whilst Petruchio was fighting with Katharina, Bianca was being courted by her two new school masters. The one was Lucentio, a student of philosophy from Pisa, and the other was Hortensio - both in disguise. Both of these men tried to woo her by giving her coded messages in her lessons. It is Lucentio that she ultimately picks as her lover, he is young, handsome, and frivolous.

Meanwhile, Petruchio has commanded Kate to kiss him and marry him. He turns up late for their wedding ceremony, dressed in his scruffiest clothes which embarrasses Katharina. He forces her to leave the wedding reception against her will to take her back to his house. There is a storm during their journey, and Kate falls in the mud, but Petruchio does not help her.

At his house Petruchio shouts at the servants, and continues to try to weaken and tame Katharina. He does not do this through violence, but kills her fierceness through kindness. Petruchio sends the food back to the kitchens because he says it is burnt. That night he says that their bed is made wrong, starving Kate of food and sleep by ranting at the servants throughout the night In the morning he invites the dressmaker to his house to make a new outfit for Katharina so that she can go and visit her family, but everything the tailor makes, Petruchio criticises. Throughout all of Petruchio's tantrums, Kate pleads with him for food, sleep and clothes, until she will do anything for him. Petruchio tests her obedience, and each time she contradicts him, he delays their visit to her family.

When they eventually ride to visit her father, Petruchio makes Katharina say that the sun is actually the moon, and that an old man they meet is actually a beautiful young woman. When Katharina has agreed with him, he is pleased with her. At Baptista's house there is a celebration because Bianca has married Lucentio that morning. Hortensio has ended up with a bossy Widow as his wife. The men, Petruchio, Lucentio and Hortensio, decide to have a bet on how obedient their wives are. Petruchio claims that Kate will be the most obedient, everyone laughs at him. Therefore all wives are called. Bianca and the Widow refuse to obey their new husbands, but Kate responds to Petruchio's command immediately, which amazes everyone.

Thus, everyone declares that the "shrew" has been "tamed" by Petruchio. Katharina ends with a long speech, telling the other wives that they must obey their husband, as "thy Lord, thy King, thy Governor." Petruchio is extremely pleased with Katharina, and indeed the story ends with Petruchio and Katharina being very much in love. And ... as all good stories end, they all lived happily ever after!!


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