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Act I, Scene 1
The play begins in a public place in Padua, Italy. Lucentio, the son of a wealthy merchant, arrives from Pisa to study in Padua; he is accompanied by his servant Tranio, who tells his master that he needs to have fun as well as study. Several people enter at this point, and Lucentio and Tranio overhear the men’s conversation. Baptista informs Hortensio and Gremio that the wedding of Bianca, his younger daughter, cannot take place until Katherine, her older sister, finds a husband. Both men are disappointed with the news, for they are Bianca’s suitors. Baptista gives both men permission to court Katherine, but they do not accept the offer, for they dislike Katherine’s shrewish nature. Baptista concludes that Bianca must content herself with music and poetry. Before departing, Baptista asks the men to recommend a tutor for Bianca, which they agree to do.
Lucentio sees the beautiful Bianca and falls in love with her immediately. He decides to pose as a tutor and offer his services to her so he can be near her and get to know her. Tranio is instructed to pose as Lucentio himself and to become Bianca’s third suitor in his master’s name. The two change clothes with one another for the purpose of Tranio’s disguise. Lucentio’s second servant, Biondello, enters at this point and is confused by their actions. Lucentio lies to him, saying that he has exchanged roles with Tranio because he has just killed a man and wants to disguise himself for protection. The naive Biondello believes him.
The characters from the Induction have been watching the play. A servant turns to Sly and asks him whether he likes the play. Sly replies that it would be much more fun if it were real.