Sir, you say well, and well you do conceive,
And since you do profess to be a suitor,
You must, as we do, gratify this gentleman,
To whom we all rest generally beholding.
Sir, I shall not be slack; in sign whereof,
Please ye we may contrive this afternoon,
And quaff carouses to our mistress' health,
And do as adversaries do in law,
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
Today, one "strives mightily" against great odds to secure some
noble, usually unselfish, end. In The Taming of the Shrew, however,
Tranio doesn't have heroic deeds in mind. The situation he likens
to a law case is a three-way competition for the hand of the
beautiful and well-dowered Bianca; the suitors are compared to
opposed lawyers with only a professional interest in the
competition. Nothing so important or so personal is at stake that
the opponents can't share a nip at the metaphorical men's club.
Tranio is actually a sham, a decoy for his master Lucentio, who
is a suitor. Tranio and Lucentio have exchanged roles so
that Lucentio, in the guise of a tutor, can spend hours covertly
courting his "pupil" Bianca. Tranio's job is to keep Bianca's other
suitors and her father off Lucentio's scent. If all this sounds
confusing, things get a lot more complicated before the inevitable