Taming of the Shrew Act 1, Scene 1: Padua. A street.
A young noble scholar, Lucentio, enters a street in Padua, with his trustworthy servant, Tranio. Lucentio speaks of the wonders of Padua, for art and architecture and philosophy. He has studied all over Italy and is thrilled to bring his talents and obedience (of his father) to Padua. Tranio warns him to study what his heart dictates, not what others tell him to do, for there is no profit in fields where there is no pleasure. Lucentio thanks Tranio graciously for his input and looks on as another fanfare is heard from offstage.
Baptista, a lord of Padua, enters with his two daughters, Kate and Bianca, Hortensio, a suitor to Bianca, and Gremio, an elderly comic man. Hortensio desperately wants to marry Bianca; however, Baptista will not allow his younger daughter to marry any man before his older Katherine has first wed. The men hiss, for they believe no man would ever marry someone with such an evil tongue as Kate. Kate cannot believe her father would parade her around as a prostitute for the highest bidder. When Bianca expresses her frustration, Lucentio falls for her immediately, claming he has just heard Minerva speak. Baptista tells Bianca to go inside, while Kate and the other men remain outside. Baptista confides in Hortensio and Gremio that he seeks tutors to stay at home with Kate and Bianca, and that they should inform him of any, should they find some. He tells Kate that she may stay outside, while he goes into finish speaking with an embittered Bianca. Angry, Kate speaks briefly to the audience, wondering why she must be told when and where she can stay and speak. "What, should I be appointed hours, as though, belike, / I knew not what to take and what to leave? Ha!" Act 1, Scene 1, lines 103-104 She exits at her own free will.
Hortensio and Gremio ponder their situation. They both desire Bianca and both want to continue their rivalry for her attention. However, both men also believe that no man is a fool to marry such a hellish creature as Kate, despite the fortune that awaits from her dowry. So, together they devise a plan. They will find a husband for Katherine. Although Gremio initially believes Hortensio's plan to be ludicrous, for he cannot believe that they would find a devil just as horrendous as Kate. Yet, after thinking and fantasizing of Bianca, they plan to find such a man. "I am agreed, and would I had given him the best horse in Padua to begin his wooing, that would thoroughly woo her, wed her, and bed her and rid the house of her. Come on" Act 1, Scene 1, lines 142-145.
Lucentio and Tranio are also left in awe of Bianca. Lucentio is smitten with her innocence, her beauty, and her aura. He compares her to ancient Greek goddesses and significant figures of literary and philosophical import. Both men think hard, for they know that nothing can happen with Bianca without her older sister - the shrew - having wed first. But, they come up short with any way of marrying such a person. Simultaneously, both men devise a plan. Tranio will disguise himself as a teacher and live with Baptista in the house, tutoring Bianca on art, music, and philosophy. This way, he can keep an eye on the girl and all the happenings of the house. Since, Lucentio is a well-known son of a Vincentio of Pisa, he must disguise himself as a servant from either Naples or Florence. The two men switch attire, with Tranio now dressed in bright noble colors, and Lucentio looking as a poor slave. Tranio insists that he will do absolutely anything for his beloved Lucentio, who he promised to work for and follow.
Biondello, a rogue and friend of Tranio, enters the street, confused at seeing Lucentio wearing the clothing of a servant. He wonders why the two men have exchanged attire. Lucentio claims that upon arrival in Padua, he killed a man in a duel and must wear costume to camouflage himself and hide. Tranio is now Lucentio - in public only - and Lucentio is another poor man. They convince Biondello to keep their secret quiet, and then Tranio tells him that Lucentio wants Baptista's youngest daughter, Bianca. He must keep his mouth shut.
As the three men leave, the presenters enter the scene and call out to Christopher Sly, watching the play from afar. They wonder if he likes it, since he does not seem to pay much attention. He claims that he is enjoying the play very much. They tell him that it has just begun.