In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Baptista is a wealthy businessman who has two eligible daughters: Katarina and Bianca. He refuses to allow Bianca to marry until Katarina, the shrew of the title, has as well. Accordingly, much of the plot of the play involves attempts, on the parts of many characters, to work around this condition.

Although to a modern audience, Baptista seems insensitive to the point of callousness, he was most likely admired for his character by Elizabethan audiences. The way in which he shows little feeling for his daughters: making no effort to understand them and then effectively auctioning them off to the highest bidder seems awful now but would probably have been seen as the act of a good father. In a society where "middle-class" women were given no opportunity to make a living for themselves, it is clear that Baptista's behaviour is only an attempt to assure his daughters' economic future.