Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Histories, Comedies, and Romances

By Victor L. Cahn | Go to book overview

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

The tone of this play is established in the Prologue:

Sixty and nine, that wore
Their crownets regal, from th' Athenian bay
Put forth toward Phrygia, and their vow is made
To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures
The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen,
With wanton Paris sleeps -- and that's the quarrel.

(Prologue, 5-10)

The flippancy of those last four words suggests the folly of the enterprise to unfold before us. Shakespeare takes the most famous military adventure in history, the siege of Troy, and turns it upside down. Here are no extraordinary heroes fighting boldly in a struggle complicated by the actions of the gods. Here instead are petty and vicious plotters caught up in an endless war that never made much sense, and now, after seven years of slaughter, makes even less. That Troilus and Cressida apparently was not performed before 1898, yet has been staged regularly since, is appropriate. For this play, perhaps more than any of Shakespeare's, speaks especially to our century, when so many works of art have dramatized the madness of war.

The story of Troilus and Cressida was a popular medieval tale, and Shakespeare was probably acquainted with Chaucer's romantic retelling, Troilus and Criseyde. But medieval writers also exalted courtly love and scorned what they judged to be the crude customs and mores of the Greeks. Cressida herself is mocked in several medieval works, and Shakespeare probably knew one of the most famous, Robert Henryson Testament of Cressid, composed in the latter part of the fifteenth century.

Many of the events of this play are taken from the Iliad of Homer, and Shakespeare was likely influenced by Chapman's translation. Dominating the Iliad, however, is a sense of tragedy, as human beings of stature, always conscious of their mortality, battle fiercely in a drive for national and personal glory.

-683-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Histories, Comedies, and Romances
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 865

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.