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In Padua (Italy), Lucentio and his servant Tranio (both from Paris) stroll while Lucentio ponders that he has come to Padua to pursue knowledge. Tranio points out that he should pursue pleasures, as well. Then, Baptista and his daughters Katherine (older, the shrew) and Bianca (younger) appear with Bianca's suitors Gremio and Hortensio. Baptista tells them they cannot pursue Bianca until Katherine is married. Privately, Gremio and Hortensio agree to find her a husband so they can both resume wooing Bianca. While looking on, Lucentio falls in love with Bianca. He decides to let his servant Tranio pretend to be Lucentio, so that Lucentio can be a school teacher to Bianca. Biondello (another servant of Lucentio) is told to act as a servant to Tranio. Petruchio of Verona arrives in Padua with his servant Grumio to see his friend Hortensio. Upon meeting, Hortensio mentions Katherine in passing and Petruchio vows to woo and marry her (for her large dowry). Hortensio then decides to pretend to be a school master and instruct Bianca in music. Gremio arrives with Lucentio (disguised as a school master, Cambio) and tells Hortensio of his plants to let Lucentio school Bianca and speak highly of Gremio. Tranio then arrives and announces that he (as Lucentio) will be a suitor to Bianca.
At Baptista's house, Petruchio arrives with Hortensio (as Litio) and Gremio arrives with Lucentio (as Cambio). Tranio (as Lucentio) is also there, proclaiming his suit for Bianca. Petruchio meets Kate and the two spar wits, making Petruchio more determined than ever to marry Kate, which he announces to all; they are to be married on Sunday, though Kate obviously protests. Baptista, upon hearing this, tells Tranio (as Lucentio) and Gremio that the one with the highest dowry will get Bianca.. Tranio bluffs to have more wealth and possessions than Gremio, but Baptista declares Lucentio's father Vincentio must personally assure he has the wealth and will give it to Lucentio.
At Bianca's room, Lucentio (as Cambio) and Hortensio (as Litio) school Bianca. Both reveal their intentions for her love, but they also begin to suspect the other of amorous intentions. On the wedding day, Petruchio arrives late, and is dressed in a fool's clothes. He acts irrationally at the wedding, then immediately leaves town with Kate. Baptista, although flabbergasted, is happy to be rid of her.
At Petruchio's country home, he and Kate arrive, exhausted from the journey, since, throughout, Petruchio has been giving Kate a taste of her own medicine. He continues to berate her and his servants continually. Back in Padua, Tranio and Hortensio spy on Lucentio (as Cambio) courting Bianca. Hortensio, in defeat/despair, swears with Tranio (as Lucentio) not to pursue Bianca anymore. In fact, Hortensio plans to marry a widow who has long loved him. Biondello then appears and tells Tranio and Lucentio he's found a man from Mantua (a Pedant) to impersonate Lucentio's father Vincentio. They trick him to do this by saying people from Mantua are despised in Padua. At Petruchio's house, he further tries to tame Kate by starving her, refusing her to have new clothes, and refusing to visit her father's house since she continues to disagree with him, even though both know he is wrong. Back at Padua, Tranio (as Lucentio) introduces the Pedant (as Vincentio) to Baptista, and all agree to sup together. Meanwhile, Biondello instructs Lucentio to bring Bianca to the church to be married. Elsewhere, Petruchio and Kate travel on the road to Padua where they meet the real Vincentio (Lucentio's Father). Petruchio has Kate so much under his control that he gets her to declare Vincentio is a female to his face, then to apologize and admit that he is truly a man. Petruchio informs Vincentio of his son's marriage to Bianca, and all travel to Padua.
At Padua, Vincentio arrives and asks to see Baptista, though the Pedant (as Vincentio) and Tranio (as Lucentio) deny Vincentio is who he says he is and call for him to be arrested. Lucentio himself and Bianca arrive and set things straight, then announce that they've been married, causing Baptista and the real Vincentio to fume even more. At length, Baptista, Vincentio, and Lucentio come to agreement and all celebrate the three marriages: Petruchio and Kate, Lucentio and Bianca, and Hortensio and the widow. At supper, Petruchio wins a wager by demonstrating that Katherine is now more obedient than Bianca or the widow. He celebrates by saying, "Kiss me Kate," and they do.
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