Poor Bianca can't have boyfriends or get married until her older sister Kate gets hitched. The problem is that nobody wants to marry Kate because she's a total shrew. Good thing Petruchio arrives in town looking for a rich wife. He decides to marry Kate (sight unseen) despite the fact that she has a reputation for castrating men with her words. Petruchio heads over to Baptista's place to make a deal.
It doesn't take much to convince Baptista that Petruchio should be allowed to marry Kate. Baptista says Kate must give the green light but the deal is pretty much done before Petruchio even sees Katherine. When the two meet, Kate is insulting and the two verbally spar for a few rounds. She wants nothing to do with Petruchio but he announces that Kate has no choice in the matter – he wants her and that's that.
Poor Kate – Petruchio shows up late for the wedding ceremony and then proceeds to act like wild and crazy when he arrives. Once married, Kate becomes his legal "property," so she has to do what Petruchio says. When Petruchio says she'll go to bed hungry, that's what she does. If he wants her to dress in rags, she has no choice. Kate, however, won't keep her quiet. She continues to quarrel with Petruchio. This causes Petruchio to tighten the screws and Kate is made even more miserable.
On the way to Bianca's wedding, Petruchio threatens to make them turn back home if Kate doesn't agree with everything he says. Finally, Kate breaks down and plays along when Petruchio insists the sun is the moon and the old man on the road is a beautiful maiden. This is the turning point in the relationship, as Katherine submits to Petruchio's will and continues to obey her husband's every whim from here on out.
At Bianca's wedding banquet, the wedding guests tease Petruchio about his shrewish wife. So, Petruchio makes a wager – whoever has the most obedient wife wins a big pot of cash. Hortensio and Lucentio decide to take his bet – after all, they've seen Kate at her absolute worst and assume she hasn't changed.
When Petruchio calls for Kate, she comes running and Petruchio wins the bet. (The other wives ignore their husbands when called.) To top it off, Kate gets on her knees and fondles Petruchio's feet after she delivers a lengthy speech that lets everyone know that she's changed her evil ways.
Outwardly, it appears that order has been restored. Kate has transformed from shrew to obedient wife and all their friends and family believe she's a new woman. Kate and Petruchio run off to bed together.