Baptista, a rich gentleman of Padua, has two daughters. The elder, Katherina, or Kate the curst, has a fiery temper and a sharp tongue, while Bianca, the younger, is gentle and sweet, and has many suitors, including Hortensio and Gremio. However, Baptista has decided no one may marry Bianca until after Katherina is wedded.
Two visitors to Padua arrive with their servants. The first, Lucentio, instantly falls in love with Bianca, and disguises himself as a teacher so he can see her more often, adding still another suitor to the mix. The second visitor, Petruchio, has come to Padua in search of a rich wife. Hortensio, one of Bianca’s suitors tells Petruchio of Kate’s wealth and beauty, but also her awful temper. Petruchio resolves to woo, marry, and tame the wild Kate.
When the two meet, sparks begin to fly. Kate discovers she has at last met a man who can stand up to her in wit and passion. When she is sharp and cruel, Petruchio is clever and determined. Despite her protests, he declares that he will have no wife but her. Baptista arrives, and Petruchio announces that he and Katherina are to be married Sunday.
When Sunday comes, Petruchio arrives late for the wedding, dressed like a clown, and behaving like a ruffian. After the wedding Petruchio refuses to stay for the wedding dinner and whisks Kate away from her family and friends.
When the newlyweds arrive home, Petruchio is even stranger. He yells at the servants and forbids them to give his new wife anything to eat or to let her rest, claiming that nothing, food or bed, is good enough for Kate. In other words, he behaves just like Katherina used to.
Being very tired and very hungry, Kate’s temper begins to falter. She finds herself sticking up for the servants and giving compliments, instead of finding fault with everything and everyone. In the morning Petruchio orders food and new clothing for his bride; but, since she isn’t quick enough to say thank you, he takes it away again.
He then decides to take her back for a visit to Baptista, but when he finds Kate still being disagreeable he calls off the trip.
Kate begins to understand how to play nice with her husband and at last they set out on their journey. On the way Petruchio tests her by claiming the sun is the moon. Kate, weary of all the arguing, says it will be sun or moon or whatever he wants.
On the road they meet an old man who Petruchio calls a “fair maiden,” Kate agrees with him even in this, and they at last seal their love with a kiss.
Petruchio and Kate arrive at Baptista’s just in time to celebrate Lucentio’s marriage to Bianca and Hortensio’s marriage to the Widow. Alone together, the three new grooms make a wager on whose wife is the most agreeable. Both Bianca and the Widow refuse to come when beckoned by their husbands. But when Petruchio commands Kate to come, she complies immediately, and she ends the play by gives a final speech about the duty of women to their husbands and the blessings of a happy marriage.