Break the ice Introduction
I'm Tranio. I'm Lucentio's trusted servant. I'm smart, loyal, and I think quickly on my feet. And you know what I think?
If it be so, sir, that you are the man
Must stead us all and me amongst the rest,
And if you break the ice and do this feat,
Achieve the elder, set the younger free
For our access, whose hap shall be to have her
Will not so graceless be to be ingrate. (1.2.262-267)
Who Said It and Where
The Taming of the Shrew goes a little something like this: Lucentio, a rich guy from Verona falls madly and deeply in love with Bianca as soon as he lays eyes on her. There's just one problem: Baptista, her old man, lays down the law and says that Bianca's admirers should scram. See, Bianca's not getting married until Baptista can get her older sister Katherine off his hands. And nobody wants to marry Kate. She's, for lack of a better word, a shrew.
But don't worry: Lucentio hatches a plan to seal the deal with Bianca. He dresses up like a tutor named Cambio so he can infiltrate Baptista's house, Trojan horse style, and cozy up to his crush. His main servant Tranio dresses up like him to walk around town and fool the masses.
Then Petruchio arrives on the scene. We learn that Petruchio's dad recently died and left Petruchio a nice little inheritance. Wanting to fatten up his bank account some more, Petruchio has come to Padua to find a rich wife. A bachelor named Hortensio jokes that he knows the perfect woman—a super rich shrew named Katherine.
Petruchio says that sounds awesome because he's all about money. His wife can be ugly, old, or shrewish—it really doesn't matter to him because money = happiness. Hortensio says he was just joking around, but since Petruchio insists, he'll be a good pal and will help hook him up with Kate. But he does warn Petruchio again, saying he wouldn't marry Kate for all the money in the world.
Then Tranio (disguised as Lucentio) arrives on the scene and asks for directions to Baptista's house, which worries Petruchio and Gremio (yet another suitor) because they don't want anymore competition for Bianca's hand. The suitors bicker amongst themselves until they agree that if Tranio wants in on the deal, he will have to pony up some cash to help cover Petruchio's expenses. Tranio agrees and delivers this little ditty.
That settled, the guys decide they should hang out together over dinner and some cocktails. Who says men competing for one woman can't be friends?