Synopsis

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Scene by Scene Synopsis

Scene:  Padua, and Petruchio's country house.

Induction, Scene 1:  Christopher Sly drunkenly falls asleep on the ground. As a practical joke, the local Lord of this manor decides to take the unconscious man into his home and have him awaken in the lap of luxury. He orders his servants to inform Sly that he is a gentleman who has been insane for many years, believing himself a poor drunk-A company of Players arrives, and the Lord directs them to perform for Sly. He further arranges for his page to pose as Sly's wife.

Induction, Scene 2:  Sly awakens in a bedroom of the Lord's house, and the servants offer him delicacies. His ‘illness' is explained to him by the Lord, but Sly denies it and briefly describes his true place in the world. The Lord and his servants offer the gentlemanly pleasures they insist are properly his, including a beautiful wife, and Sly accepts their version of his life. The Page appears dressed as a woman. Sly's lusty instincts are laid to rest by the assertion that sex will produce further delusions of poverty. The Players' performance is announced, and Sly prepares to enjoy it.

Act I, Scene 1:  Lucentio, accompanied by his servant Tranio, has just arrived in Padua. They observe Baptista telling Hortensio and Gremio that their courtship of his daughter Bianca is inappropriate, for he will not permit her to be wed until her older sister, Katherina, is married.  The suitors state that this is an unlikely prospect, as Katherina is a notorious shrew, unacceptable to any man. Katherina's aggressive response seems to justify their remarks, while Bianca demurely accepts her father s order. Baptista asks the suitors to help him find tutors in music and poetry to keep Bianca happy, and - he and his daughters depart. Hortensio and Gremio agree to try to find a husband for Katherina so that they can resume their rivalry for Bianca, and they too cave. Lucentio tells Tranio of his immediate and intense love for Bianca. The two devise a plan to permit him to court the girl: Lucentio shall disguise himself as a scholar and become Bianca's tutor, and Tranio shall pretend to be Lucentio. Lucentio's other servant Biondello, arrives and is told of the plan. In addition Lucentio decides that the disguised Tranio shall declare himself a suitor to Bianca and convince Baptista to accept him. Christopher Sly, who has been dozing and is awakened by the Page and another servant, and he readies himself to watch more of the play.

Act I, Scene 2:  Petruchio arrives in Padua and calls on his old friend Hortensio. He announces that he has come in search of a wife, and Hortensio suggests Katherina while warning that she is intolerable. Petruchio is undaunted, for he says he knows how to deal with shrews-he insists on meeting Baptista immediately. Hortensio decides to masquerade as a music teacher, to be recommended by Petruchio as Bianca's tutor. On their way to Baptista's, they encounter Gremio and Lucentio, who is dressed as a scholar. Gremio declares that he will ingratiate himself with Baptista by presenting Lucentio as a language teacher for Bianca. Tranio disguised as Lucentio, appears and reveals, in his master s name, his intention to court Bianca.

Act II, Scene 1:  Katherina torments Bianca until Baptista stops her and the sisters go their separate ways. Gremio Petruchio and Hortensio arrive. Petruchio introduces himself as a suitor for Katherina's hand and proposes Hortensio as a music teacher to entertain his prospective bride; similarly, Gremio presents Lucentio as a language teacher, intended for Bianca. Tranio arrives calling himself Lucentio, and declares himself a suitor to Bianca, he bears a gift of a lute and several books Baptista distributes these to the appropriate tutors and sends the teachers to their pupils. Petruchio, saying that he is in a hurry, arranges a marriage agreement with Baptista, contingent on Katherina's acceptance. Hortensio reports that Katherina has broken the lute on his head in a fit of anger. Petruchio praises Katherina s spirit and wants to meet her. The others leave, and Petruchio reveals his plan in a soliloquy he will assert Katherina's sweetness, no matter how shrewish her behavior, and treat their wedding as agreed upon, whatever her protests. She appears, and he immediately takes a familiar tone, addressing her as Kate and complimenting her effusively. They engage in a bantering battle of wits, but he ignores her insults-even when she hits him he responds with moderation.  She calls him a fool, but he insists that she shall marry him and he shall tame her. Baptista, Gremio, and Tranio return, and, despite Katherina's protests Petruchio insists that she has agreed to their marriage and has been very affectionate to him. She calms down as Petruchio confirms with her father his plan to marry her on the next Sunday, and Petruchio takes her with him to get a ring. Baptista asserts that the wealthiest of Bianca s suitors shall marry his younger daughter and they attempt to outbid each other. Tranio speaking as Lucentio offers far more than Gremio, citing the vast fortune of his father, Vincentio.  Baptista agrees that he shall have Bianca once his parent comes to Padua and substantiates his claim. The older men leave, and Tranio plans to recruit a stand-in for Lucentio’s father.

Act III, Scene 1:  Lucentio and Hortensio refuse to leave each other alone with Bianca. Lucentio pretends to construe a passage in Latin and reveals his identity and purpose to Bianca. She is demurely wary, but she doesn't dismiss him, telling him not to despair. Hortensio gives her a love note couched as a lesson in the musical scale, but she rejects him altogether.

Act III, Scene 2:  Petruchio, dressed in ridiculous clothes, arrives very late for his wedding to Katherina and goes in search of her. The wedding guests follow, and Tranio has a chance to tell Lucentio of his plan to find a substitute Vincentio. Gremio tells of Petruchio's obnoxious behavior at the wedding. The rest of the wedding party appears, and Petruchio announces that he is leaving immediately with Kate, rather than staying for the banquet. Furious, Katherina resists, but he carries her off.

Act IV, Scene 1:  Petruchio's servant Grumio arrives at his master's house in bitter cold, having been sent ahead to arrange for the newlyweds' reception. He tells Curtis, another servant, of the unchivalrous behavior of Petruchio, who has allowed Katherina to lie in the mud after falling from her horse and has beaten Grumio needlessly, to his bride's horror. The couple appears .and Petruchio orders dinner for Katherina, but he rails at the servants for not presenting it properly, throwing the food at them; his wife gets none. He ignores her pleas for patience and takes her off to bed. A servant reports that Petruchio continues to rant and rave, disconcerting Katherina completely. Petruchio returns and the servants flee; in a soliloquy he describes his plan: he will continue to insist ferociously that nothing is good enough for his wife so that she will get no food, no drink, and no rest. He likens his strategy to the taming of a wild falcon.

Act IV, Scene 2:  In Padua, Hortensio brings Tranio, whom he thinks is Lucentio, to overhear Bianca's loving conversation with the real Lucentio. Tranio pretends to be affronted and joins Hortensio in criticizing Bianca as frivolous and unworthy. Hortensio vows to marry a Widow who has pursued him, and he leaves. Tranio encounters the Pedant, a newcomer to Padua, and, after learning that he is from Mantua, tells him that an outbreak of hostilities has resulted in a new law condemning to death any Mantuan found in Padua. He offers to protect the stranger if he will agree to pose as Vincentio. The Pedant gratefully accepts.

Act IV, Scene 3:  Petruchio brings food for Katherina, but she won't speak to him. He refuses to give it to her until she thanks him. She thanks him, but, before she can eat much, he brings in a Tailor and a Haberdasher to provide her with fine clothes. Petruchio rejects these garments, although Katherina likes them. He asserts that she shall have a gentlewoman's clothes only when she is gentle, and, raging, he drives the Tailor and Haberdasher away. Planning their journey to a feast at her father's house, he asserts that it is seven o'clock; when Katherina responds that it is only two, he insists that she must stop contradicting him.

Act IV, Scene 4:  Tranio and the Pedant, as Lucentio and his father, call on Baptista. The Pedant asserts his willingness to provide a dowry, and Baptista agrees to the betrothal of Bianca and Lucentio; they leave to sign a marriage contract at Lucentio's house. The real Lucentio, who is present in his role as the tutor, is sent to fetch Bianca. Biondello informs him of Tranio's plan: a priest is ready at a certain church, and Lucentio may now elope with his beloved.

Act IV, Scene 5:  On the road to Padua, Petruchio remarks that the moonlight is very bright. When Katherina observes that it is daylight, he threatens to cancel the trip if she does not stop disagreeing with him. She gives in to him, calling the sun the moon, and he says it is the sun. She concurs and states that she will agree to whatever he says.  Petruchio asserts that things are now as they should be. When an elderly man approaches, Petruchio calls him a lovely maid, and Katherina, true to her promise, addresses the old gentleman as though he were a girl. Petruchio then changes his mind, and Katherina begs the man's pardon for her mistake. As they travel together, the older man identifies himself as Vincentio.

Act V, Scene 1:  Bianca and Lucentio enter a church to be married. Petruchio, Katherina, and Vincentio arrive at Lucentio's house, where the Pedant poses as Vincentio.  Petruchio and Katherina withdraw to witness this development. The clamor brings Baptista and Tranio.  Tranio continues to brazen it out, and Vincentio is about to be arrested as an imposter, when Lucentio and Bianca arrive, married. Lucentio identifies himself and explains what has happened. Baptista's anger is cooled by Vincentio's assurance that he will approve Lucentio's marriage. The discussion becomes more cordial and moves indoors. Petruchio wishes to kiss Katherina before following the others inside but she is embarrassed to kiss in the street. He speaks of returning home, and she kisses him. Affectionately, they go to join the others.

Act V, Scene 2:  A banquet celebrates the marriages of Lucentio to Bianca, Hortensio to the Widow, and, belatedly. Petruchio to Katherina. The Widow shrewishly argues with Katherina. The ladies withdraw, and the men gamble on whose wife is the most obedient. Bianca is sent for, but she sends word that she is busy and cannot come. Similarly, the Widow sends the message that, suspecting some joke, she will not come. Petruchio sends Grumio to 'command' that Katherina come, and she does. Petruchio sends her back to fetch the other women. When the women return, the Widow says she is glad not to be as compliant as Katherina, and Bianca calls Lucentio a fool for having bet on her obedience. At Petruchio's order, Katherina lectures the other women on the virtues of submissiveness. She says that the natural order of things places men in authority and that a woman's virtue and beauty are marred by revolt against nature. A husband takes risks in the world to maintain a home, whereas a woman lives in relative comfort, owing no more for her situation than obedience. She compares a woman's proper devotion to a husband with the allegiance that a subject owes a prince, and she observes that she has rebelled herself and has learned that nothing is to be gained from it. She makes a formal gesture of submission, placing her hand beneath Petruchio's foot. Petruchio, exulting in his fine wife, takes her off to bed; the others marvel at the taming of the shrew.

 

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