Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida

1094 Words5 Pages
Shakespeare’s works are some of the finest examples of Tragedy and Comedy from the English cannon of literature. The reason that his works are so poignant and reflective is his use of both emotions in order to progress the other. In his interpretation of Troilus and Cressida the traditional story of tragic love and loss are peppered with irony and satire in order to address topical issues of Gender roles, Government action/inaction, and hero worship through juxtaposition and humor.
The character of Troilus before Shakespeare’s play can be seen as a perfect archetype for the tragic romantic. His love is fated by the gods from the beginning. The romance and relationship with Cressida is elevated to that of a noble crusade. Then as if Sophocles himself dictated the events we see the achievement, conflict and eventual downfall. As with many of Shakespeare’s works we see that tradition and myth are great platforms for satire and irony. The noble and honorable Troilus approaches Cressida and instead of tragic hero we meet comedic melodramatic. The epic expressions of devotion and intent are drawn out to the point of ridicule and hyperbole. Although they may see inline with the Roman and Greek traditions of tragedy at first, the addition of flat and even openly sarcastic responses from Cressida cause the reader to question whether Troilus is noble and devoted in his actions or obsessive and pathetic. Where there was fate and honor we now see neurosis and narcissism. Dialogue from traditional tales such as:
As he is the well of loyalty, 
the ground of truth, mirror of seemliness,
Apollo of wit, stone of security,
virtueís root, finder and head of happiness,
Through whom all my sorrow is made less, so then, I love him best,
And ...

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...admirable when women are given a choice and motivations beyond that of a trophy? What the difference between honor/heroism and selfish ignorance? How does this affect those that aren’t directly involved?

Works Cited
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Shakespeare, William, Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine. Troilus and Cressida. New York: Washington Square, 2007. Print.
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