Cursing his lot, a good portion of which involves sustaining a beating at his master’s hands, Grumio looks forward to warming himself by a fire and calls for Curtis to have a fire ready in anticipation of their master Petruchio’s arrival. However, as the fire has already been made, Curtis, who is curious about their master’s new bride, badgers Grumio about her only to be struck by the ear.
Eventually, Grumio tells Curtis about the ordeal that their master has subjected his new bride, not to mention Grumio, through, prompting Curtis to conclude that his master Petuchio is the greater shrew than the reputed shrew herself—Katherine. Grumio agrees and warns Curtis that he and the rest of the servants better be at the top of their games lest Petruchio take THEM to task.
Presently, Petruchio, accompanied by Katherine, appears. He calls for his servants and upbraids them for not attending to him in a timely fashion. (They should have been waiting for him, making it unnecessary for Petruchio to summon them.) Then, having summoned Grumio, Petruchio upbraids him for failing to meet him at an appointed time and place. Petruchio continues to upbraid his servants, compelling Kate to defend Petruchio’s servants.
Meanwhile, a couple of Petruchio’s servants marvel at their master’s peevishness which overwhelm the reputed peevishness of their master’s bride.
By and by, Petruchio comes to the forefront of the stage to confide in the audience. His anger and grouchiness are an act designed to tame Katherine. He will continue to be cross at everyone and at Kate especially, and thereby compel Kate to purge herself entirely of her wayward peevishness.
Feigning disbelief, Tranio, who is disguised as Lucentio, attends to Hortensio, who is disguised as Litio and who claims that Bianca is no better than a floozy. Indeed, they observe as Bianca flirts with Lucentio who is disguised as the tutor Cambio. Subsequently, Litio, revealing that he is in actuality Hortensio, avows to cease courting Bianca and to get married to a rich widow who had always regarded him—Hortensio—highly. Likewise, Tranio avows to cease courting Bianca.
However, when Hortensio leaves, both Bianca and Lucentio thank Tranio for helping them persuade Hortensio to seek his love elsewhere. Presently, Biondello appears and tells Tranio of a Pedant who is dressed sharply and who might be just the man for their cause. Tranio assures Lucentio that he will handle this and by and by confronts the Pedant.
Having discovered that the Pedant is from Mantua, Tranio feigns disbelief. Tranio says that the Dukes of Mantua and Padua are currently at odds on account of which any Mantuan found in Padua and vice and versa is condemned to die. Thus, Tranio persuades the Pedant to pretend to be Lucentio’s father Vincentio. To complete the illusion, Tranio tells the Pedant to speak favorably of a dower that has been promised to Baptista Minola. Grateful that his life is being thus saved, the Pedant agrees to play his role to a T.
Katherine beats Grumio when Grumio humors Katherine about bringing her food, which he dares not do on account of Petruchio’s express command forbidding it. Katherine is thus in a state of exasperation when Petruchio, who is accompanied by Hortensio, enters the scene bearing food. Petruchio offers Katherine the food, but when Katherine neglects to thank him, Petruchio has the food removed to Katherine’s objection. Presently, Petruchio, claiming that anon he and Kate will go to her father’s house dressed in the finest of apparels, summons the haberdasher and the tailor only to dismiss them both and the articles of clothing that they have to offer. Petruchio claims that the said articles of clothing are unfit for a gentlewomen to wear even though Katherine argues otherwise.
Subsequently, arguing that clothes do not make the man or woman, Petruchio determines that he and Kate will visit Kate’s father as they are. He announces when they will leave and predicts when they will arrive at Kate’s father’s house only to be assured by Kate that his calculations are utterly wrong. Consequently, arguing that he will have his way one way or the other, Petruchio decides to delay their departure time, compelling Hortensio to marvel at Petruchio who would have you believe that he could command the sun to do his bidding.
Though the Pedant, who is disguised as Vincentio, warns Tranio that Baptista may recognize the Pedant as they had once met 20 years ago in Genoa, Tranio assures the Pedant that as long as the Pedant sticks to the script, his disguise will preserve the deception. Presently, they encounter Baptista, who is accompanied by Lucentio, prompting Tranio to introduce Baptista to his father. Without skipping a beat, the Pedant plays his role to a T: he assures Baptista that he—Vincentio—has his son’s best interest in mind and that he would like nothing better than to see his son wedded to the daughter of such an illustrious gentleman as Baptista. Pleased, Baptista gives his consent to have his daughter married to Lucentio, but objects to having the ceremony at his house, on account of his gossip mongering servants, not to mention Gremio who is still very much interested in his daughter and who may interrupt the wedding. Tranio suggests his own quarters in Padua. Baptist agrees and commissions Lucentio to go fetch Bianca.
Alone with Biondello, Lucentio entertains some doubts about getting married through deception, but realizes that he will never be content unless he weds Bianca.
When Katherine contradicts Petruchio’s claim that they are traveling by moonlight (indeed, it is day, and the sun is shining), Hortensio urges Katherine to indulge Petruchio lest Petuchio has the traveling party turn back out of spite and they never arrive at Katherine’s father’s house. Consequently, Katherine concedes that whatever Peturchio claims is reality is indeed reality.
By and by, while traveling, they meet a reverent, old man whom Petruchio addresses as a young maid and whom Petruchio encourages Katherine to compliment as such. Katherine does so, complimenting the old man as a pretty maid only to be contradicted by Petruchio who accuses Katherine of being out of her mind. Consequently, citing the sun of having distorted her vision, Katherine apologizes to the old man for having mistaken him for a young maid.
Presently, upon learning that the old man is called Vincentio, that he is the father of Lucentio, and that he is on his way to meet his son in Padua, Petruchio urges Vincentio to joint them and informs the old man that they—Vincentio and Petruchio—are now practically father and son on account of Lucentio having married Katherine’s sister. Vincentio is incredulous, but Hortensio substantiates Petruchio’s claim.