Kate represents Queen Elizabeth I and Bianca represents Queen Mary.
Elizabeth was shrewish, whereas Mary was docile (at least in their personal life).
The play is pro-shrew.
This is a relatively recent theory, or at least recent to be spoken in public, since being pro-shrew back when this play was socially unacceptable. In the final scene, Kate the zealous shrew is portrayed as a superior wife to the docile Bianca and widow.
She's only pretending to be docile in the end. It's plain when her submissive act begins on the ride to her father's that she has undergone no gradual change of personality or slow breaking of spirit but abruptly grits her teeth and starts agreeing with Petruchio's ridiculous whims just to get what she wants. There's been plenty of scholarly debate on this one.
The scene with Katarina tying up Bianca was intentional Fanservice
- Not really; both Kate and Bianca would have been played by teenage boys. Unless you're into that, I guess.
- Never let a good crossdressing joke go to waste" could well have been Shakespeare's live motto...
- Any LGBT person, straight women and cross dressing fan who wouldnt normally want to see this kind of play but were dragged to it deserved something enjoyable. Shakespeare knew this so he got the two pretty teenage boys who played the sisters to do some (PG-13) Yaoi related stuff for their entertainment.
What does Petruchio find sexy? Not a humble, submissive, quiet, obedient Proper Lady
but a project
— someone he can "tame," change, fix, and cure of her evil habits! Sure, she acts like a bossy, hot-tempered shrew to everyone else, but she treats him
completely differently, and that means he's special and better than other men! What, ladies, how could you find this offensive? All Girls Want Bad Boys
because it's gratifying to change them, and Petruchio's and Kate's victory as the happiest/best couple at the close of the play teaches the moral: "All men should want shrews because it's fun to tame them."
- But Kate doesn't treat Petruchio any differently from other people. She yells at him, fights him, and attempts to dominate him. The only edge he has over her is that, thanks to an agreement with her father, he's married to her!
Kate is truly in love with Petruchio and truly wanted a husband all along.
In the beginning, she's angry and jealous over her sister having multiple suitors and having none of her own. Later, she seems genuinely distressed when it looks like Petruchio isn't going to show up to their wedding (if she was really being forced into marrying him against her will, it hardly makes sense that she would rant about his absence instead of breathing a sigh of relief). This, of course, requires the interpretation that she wanted a tough-manly-man who wasn't afraid of her, which supports the theory that the play is pro-shrew for implying real men are attracted to shrews.
The moral of the play is: Real men don't beat their wives!
A skilled husband doesn't need to resort to beating to control his wife, no matter how shrewish he is.
Kate's personality never really changed.
Her shrewishness was an act all along. She put on a disagreeable Jerkass
facade because any man who couldn't deal with an assertive wife wasn't worthy of her. Once Petruchio proved he was man enough to take it and respond in kind, she dropped the mask and became the perfect wife.
Kate, the "shrew" whom no one likes, ends up lecturing the sweet and "perfect" Bianca on what it means to be a good wife after Bianca turns out to be surprisingly disobedient and assertive toward her husband.
Originally, it cleared up what happened to Sly
The ending was "dictated" by the era's equivalent of the "Hayes Code"
- Back in the days of the Hayes Code, you could geta way with a lot, if only you had your story end the "right" way. You could talk about crime, or homosexuality, or drugs, as long as the gays were either "cured" or "dead", the crime did not pay and the drugs were evil. Maybe this was the same, either the Moral Guardians or his financiers said to Shakespeare "You cannot write a story where the shrew wins", so he made a memorable story of a shrew and tacked on an ending about which he felt the same way most modern audiences feel today: Like it's been tacked onto a story that has a totally different tone in the rest.