Act IV, Scene 1
Grumio tries to start a fire as he grumbles about how Petruchio is mistreating him. Another servant, Curtis, comes in to see what all the grumbling is about. Grumio asks him to start a fire, but Curtis is too interested in Katherine and other updates. Grumio explains that Katherine used to be a terror to deal with, but now she seems calm and demure compared to Petruchio. Of course he delivers this news in between asking Curtis to please start a fire so he can warm up and Petruchio won’t get mad. Curtis would rather catch up on all the hot gossip, which a very cold Grumio finds quite frustrating. Grumio asks if dinner is cooked and the house ready for the arrival of the new couple. Curtis assures him that everything is ready and asks for more news.
Grumio finally indulges Curtis and tells him how Katherine’s horse lay down on top of her. Rather than helping her, Petruchio starting beating Grumio because the horse stumbled. Katherine had to get herself up and trek through the mud to rescue poor Grumio. This apparently mad Petruchio even angrier and Katherine pleaded for him to stop as the horses ran off. Curtis is shocked to hear that Petruchio is more “shrewish” than Katherine.
Grumio tells Curtis to get all of the servants assembled for their master’s return. Petruchio enters, angry that no one was there to greet him at the door and help him off his horse. Grumio explains that most of them weren’t up to snuff, so they all greeted him here. Petruchio quickly demands his men in and out of the room asking for all sorts of things as he tells Katherine to make herself at home.
Unfortunately for his servants and a weary Katherine, nothing seems to be quite good enough for Petruchio and he throws himself into various rages. The worst of which is over dinner, which he insists is burnt and unfit for eating, so he flips the table and scatters the feast all over the floor. He refuses to have his wife eat such awful food that would probably make her sick.
Petruchio takes Katherine up to bed, where, as Curtis relays, he rages that the bed is completely unsuitable and tosses the blankets about the room. Poor Katherine doesn’t know what to do.
Petruchio, completely alone, explains his plan to not let Katherine eat or sleep until she becomes obedient. He will keep her so off balance that she will have no choice but to obey him. Sounds like true love to me!
Act IV, Scene 2
Hortensio (Licio) brings Tranio (as Lucentio) into Baptista’s garden to spy on Bianca and Cambio (the real Lucentio). The two mean see how Bianca and Cambio flirt and kiss and seem to love each other. Hortensio reveals who he is and swears off Bianca. He decides to marry a wealthy widow that is in love with him. Tranio also swears to stop wooing Bianca.
Once Hortensio leaves, Tranio tells Bianca and Lucentio that they don’t have to worry about Hortensio anymore. Everyone is excited to have one less suitor in the mix. They laugh that Hortensio will tame his widow the way Petruchio is going to tame Katherine (keep in mind none of them know exactly what he’s doing).
Biondello enters with the news that he has found a random old man to play Vincentio. He’s a traveling merchant, so no one will be able to recognize him. Tranio catches the pedant on the street and, after finding out he is from Mantua, concocts a story that all travelers from Mantua are to be put to death if they come to Padua. The man is obviously concerned for his own welfare, so he agrees to play Vincentio to protect his life.
Act IV, Scene 3
Katherine begs Grumio for food. He “thinks” about it, but is too afraid that the meat is bad and would make her sick and he would get in trouble. Katherine eventually gets angry (or hangry) and starts beating Grumio.
Petruchio and Hortensio enter with a tray of meat. Katherine begs for some, but Petruchio wants some appreciation first. Katherine finally says thank you and Hortensio intervenes on Katherine’s behalf. However, Petruchio whispers to Hortensio that he should eat all the meat before Katherine can have any.
Petruchio explains to Katherine that they will be returning to her father’s house soon and so she needs to be fitted in the most magnificent clothes. First, the Haberdasher enters with a beautiful hat. Petruchio insists that it is too small and his wife must have something bigger. Katherine insists it is the appropriate size for a gentlewoman. Petruchio says she can have it once she is gentle then. Katherine’s anger finally boils over at this point and she insists on having her way. Petruchio agrees that since she hates the hat she won’t have it. Katherine objects, but the Haberdasher has already left.
Then the tailor enters with the gown. Petruchio is horrified at how awful it is. The tailor insists that he was just following Grumio’s directions. Grumio insists that the tailor is crazy and misunderstood everything he said. Petruchio publicly denounces the dress and demands it be taken away despite Katherine’s objections. Privately he tells Grumio to let the tailor know he will be paid. Hortensio also offers to pay the tailor.
Petruchio apologizes that Katherine will have to go to her father in such humble clothes, but she is still beautiful. He insists they leave at once. Katherine tells him it’s too late in the day to leave now. He tells her not to argue with him and they will leave whenever he wants them to.
Act IV, Scene 4
Tranio prepares the peddler for his meeting with Baptista. Biondello brings Baptista to them and the pedant delivers a straightforward and convincing speech. Baptista is convinced and agrees to the marriage. They go to Lucentio’s house to sign the contract.
Biondello meets up with Lucentio to tell him how everything is going according to plan and the priest at St. Luke’s is ready to marry him and Bianca whenever they please. Lucentio goes to get Bianca so they can elope.
Act IV, Scene 5
On the road to Padua, Petruchio exclaims how bright the moon is. Katherine tells him it’s the sun, but he argues. They go back and forth until Hortensio just tells Katherine to agree so they can keep going. Katherine says it is the moon, or the sun, or whatever Petruchio says it is in that moment.
Along the way, they meet the real Vincentio, traveling to Padua to visit his son. Petruchio first tells Katherine to greet him as a lovely young lady. She does and then he tells her she’s being silly that Vincentio is clearly an old man. Katherine is surprised at her own silliness. Once they learn Vincentio’s true identity, they explain that Lucentio is getting married. As you can imagine, Vincentio is quite surprised at this news. They all decide to travel to Padua together.
Act V, Scene 1
Lucentio and Bianca run off to get married while Gremio watches.
Vincentio comes up to the gate of Lucentio’s house. When he knock, the pedant answers from above and asks who is there. Vincentio gives his name which starts a long exchange about who is the true Vincentio.
Biondello enters and decides to commit to the act and denies that Vincentio is who he says he is and is promptly beaten. Biondello and the Pedant cry out for help. Petruchio and Katherine decide to step aside and watch all of this drama unfold.
Tranio enters with Baptista and also decides that is would be best to commit to the lie and calls Vincentio a mad man. This makes Vincentio quite upset and nearly gets carted off to jail.
Luckily, the real Lucentio enters with his new wife, Bianca, and sets the record straight. Baptista is pretty upset that his daughter went and got married behind his back on top of all the other deception. Vincentio is also upset, but assures Baptista that Bianca will be well taken care of. They go to sort everything out.
Katherine and Petruchio took great glee in watching everything and kiss.
Act V, Scene 2
Every joins in the wedding feast for Lucentio and Bianca. After the women step out, the men all agree on a wager. Each man – Petruchio, Lucentio, and Hortensio – insist that they have the best wife. They bet that whoever calls for their wife and has their wife return the fastest will win the bet.
Lucentio goes first, but Bianca sends back the message that she is busy. Hortensio tries next and his wife assumes he must be joking. Petruchio sends for Katherine next and she comes back immediately. Everyone is astonished and Petruchio tells her to go grab the other women. She does and then delivers a speech on obedience, after being prompted by Petruchio. Katherine insists that men to so much to provide for and protect their wives, it seems only fair that those wives be obedient to their husband’s loving and honest demands. In the end, Petruchio wins the bet and then some.
Lucentio and Hortensio marvel at how Petruchio tamed Katherine so well.