The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.
The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.
The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments-the "taming"-until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's more desirable sister, Bianca.
The play's apparent misogynistic elements have become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern audiences and readers. It has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter's musical Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film version of the original play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.
In the play performed for Sly, the "Shrew" is Katherina Minola, the eldest daughter of Baptista Minola, a lord in Padua. Katherina's temper is notorious and it is thought no man would ever wish to marry her. On the other hand, two men - Hortensio and Gremio - are eager to marry her younger sister Bianca. However, Baptista has sworn not to allow his younger daughter to marry before Katherina is wed, much to the despair of her suitors, who agree that they will work together to marry off Katherina so that they will be free to compete for Bianca.
The plot becomes more complex when Lucentio, who has recently come to Padua to attend university, sees Bianca and instantly falls in love with her. Lucentio overhears Baptista announce that he is on the lookout for tutors for his daughters, so he has his servant Tranio pretend to be him while he disguises himself as a Latin tutor named Cambio, so that he can woo Bianca behind Baptista's back.
C.R. Leslie illustration of Act 4, Scene 3 from the Illustrated London News, 3 Nov. 1886; engraved by William Luson Thomas
In the meantime, Petruchio arrives in Padua, accompanied by his servant, Grumio. Petruchio tells his old friend Hortensio that he has set out to enjoy life after the death of his father and that his main goal is to wed. Hearing this, Hortensio seizes the opportunity to recruit Petruchio as a suitor for Katherina. He also has Petruchio present to Baptista a music tutor named Litio (Hortensio himself in disguise). Thus, Lucentio and Hortensio, pretending to be the teachers Cambio and Litio, attempt to woo Bianca unbeknownst to her father, and to one another.
Petruchio, to counter Katherina's shrewish nature, woos her with reverse psychology, pretending that...