Taming of the Shrew Act 1, Scene 2: Padua. The street in front of Hortensio's house.
Petruchio, a young gentleman of Verona, arrives in front of Hortensio's house with his servant, Grumio. After the death of his father, Antonio, Petruchio has been on a series of traveling and searching, for himself and perhaps a wife. He asks Grumio to knock on Hortensio's door, but Grumio misunderstands and comically knocks on his face. Petruchio loses his temper with his dimwitted servant, scolding, yelling, and hitting, acting like a true shrew, indeed, until Hortensio finally opens the door. Surprised to see his dear friend in Padua, Hortensio discusses his life with Petruchio. When Petruchio says that he may be looking for a new life and a wife, Hortensio makes a joke that he could have a shrew with a large dowry. Petruchio thinks any woman - beauty or beast - with a large dowry is perfect:
"Signior Hortensio, 'twixt such friends as we
Few words suffice; and therefore if thou know
One rich enough to be Petruchio's wife-
As wealth is burthen of my wooing dance-
Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,
As old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd
As Socrates' Xanthippe or a worse,
She moves me not, or not removes, at least,
Affection's edge in me, were she as rough
As are the swelling Adriatic seas.
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua." Act 1, Scene 2, lines 64-75
Hortensio tells Petruchio that Kate's father is Baptista Minola, a name that he knows well. And although Hortensio jests with his friend, he believes that Petruchio may just be a possible suitor and/or match for Kate. After warning him, he informs Petruchio of his plan. He will disguise himself as a teacher, so that he may live within the walls of Baptista's home and be close with Bianca. He will be able to sleep with her at night and secure his future marriage with her as Kate seeks a husband. Grumio is worried about Katherine the Curst and urges Petruchio to back off before he even begins. Petruchio, of course, pays no heed to his silly servant.
Gremio and Lucentio enter, with Lucentio disguised as a schoolteacher named Cambio. Grumio makes a subtle comment putting down Gremio. They inquire as to the whereabouts of Baptista Minola's house, for Gremio claims to be a learned man, a fine teacher of literature and philosophy of love. Hortensio greets his rival and informs him of Petruchio, the possible savior to end their suffering absence from Bianca. Gremio persists in questioning Petruchio about his interest in wooing Katherine, making sure that the man has all the information on this detestable creature that they know. He goes on and on about her foibles and temper. Petruchio wonders if he will live past this experience. Nonetheless, he persists:
"Why came I hither but to that intent?
Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard th sea, puffed up with winds,
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field
And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in a pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets' clang?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?
Tush, tush, fear boys with bugs." Act 1, Scene 2, lines 198-209
Hortensio and Gremio are in awe of such a man's courage and spirit and believe that he may be the man to tame this wild shrew. Tranio enters the scene, dressed brilliantly as the noble Lucentio (who is already present) with his rogue friend Biandello. They, too, inquire as to the whereabouts of Baptista's home and the interests of his two daughters. The men are confused by these additional men and laugh at Tranio's perpetual tongue. They believe that if he is another suitor to Bianca, he will out-talk the rest of them. He chatters on about his wealthy father and his intentions to marry Bianca. Hortensio and the rest inform him of the problem of marriage with Kate. They introduce him to Petruchio, the man to whom they must all become indebted if he successfully woes Kate. Hortensio offers Petruchio his home during this battle of future wits.