Katharina (or Kate), the elder daughter of a rich Paduan gentleman,
is supposed to be the shrew that gets tamed in this comedy, but it is really
Bianca, her younger sister who deserves this title.
Since there is no mother in the play, one can speculate that the father was widowed and left with two small daughters to raise. Perhaps, out of paternal protectiveness he favored the younger child who was more pliable than her rebellious sister.
Kate, nursing long time wounds of this inequity and rejection finds some recompense in tormenting her sibling rival.
Now of marriageable age, Bianca has a suitor (one of many) while Kate thus deprived must suffer the derision and humiliation.
According to their custom, the eldest must be married first. Enter Petruchio: as a combatant in the campaign to husband Kate.
His first attraction was to the generous dowry offered, but the focus is soon transferred to the lady herself. Their tug-o-war relationship in the course of the courtship makes for the comic content of the play, but in time, Kate, realizing that she is truly loved and lovable, responds in kind, enjoying, what is for her, a new and marvelous experience.
The lovers are seen in a garden arbor enjoying the fruit and wine of love. The apples are a symbolic metaphor for the Garden of Eden. The checkered tablecloth suggests the strategies and tactics of a chess game, The lovers gaze at each other with a look of bliss and contentment.
Contrasting this sunny scene is the gray and shadowy background where the doting father shelters his favorite in a mutual sympathy for the pangs of exclusion they feel for the first time.
They are on the outside of the house as they are on the outside of the warm matrimonial domain of the two spirited, mad-cap sweethearts who share a secret they both acknowledge as their eyes meet.