illustration of Kate and Petruchio standing and staring at one another

The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

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What brief summary could I use for Act 1?

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Act 1 starts after a brief introductory section.  The introduction is great.  A lord decides to play a trick on a man named Sly.  Sly is passed out drunk when the lord finds him.  The lord's plan is to have Sly wake up in a manor with servants and opulence and make him think that he has always been a lord.  Sly is suspicious, but he goes along with it, when he discovers that he has a wife.  Before the lord lets him see his "wife" though, Sly must watch a play.  The play is the rest of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." 

Act 1 scene 1 begins in Padua with Lucentio and his servant, Tranio.  Lucentio is in Padua to further his vast education.  Upon arrival in the city, Lucentio and Tranio come across a noisy group consisting of Minola and his two daughters, Katherine and Bianca.  Bianca is the highly desirable sister, because she has two suitors, Hortensio and Gremio, after her.  Katherine on the other hand is a shrew.  She is yelling and screaming at just about everybody. Minola tells the two suitors that he will not allow Bianca to marry before Katherine gets married.  Bummer for Hortensio and Gremio.  Bummer for Lucentio too, since he has fallen for Bianca as well (what is it with this girl?). 

The other major bit of information from scene 1 is that Minola is looking for a teacher for Bianca.  Lucentio decides he will fake being a schoolmaster in order to secretly declare his love for Bianca.  Tranio will help with the scheme by pretending to be Lucentio and attend the university. Lucentio's other servant shows up and agrees to help. 

Scene 2: The audience is introduced to Petruchio.  He's a confident young guy and friends with Hortensio.  Petruchio visits Hortensio and says that he's in town to find a rich girl to marry. Hortensio can hardly believe his luck.  He convinces Petruchio that Katherine is the rich girl that he should pursue. With that settled, Hortensio the plots to disguise himself as a school teacher to secretly court Bianca.  

Lucentio shows up at the house with Gremio to present himself as the chosen schoolmaster.  Hortensio tells Gremio the good news about Petruchio.  Tranio enters, disguised as Lucentio and implies that he is now wanting to court Bianca as well.  Hortensio and Gremio are obviously not happy, but Tranio smooths things over by offering to buy them drinks.  Everybody leaves happy. 

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