Essay about Fortune in Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida

Essay about Fortune in Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida

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Lady Fortune and her wheel are two of the most enduring symbols in mankind’s history. Witness the popular game show, Wheel of Fortune. While it may seem silly, it proves that something of this concept has stayed with in our psyche, even today. The question of fortune is paramount is Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer gives the reader characters with completely conflicting ideas of Lady Fortune and her affect on their lives. By examining Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, the reader can hope to find an answer for these differing views on fortune. Firstly, Boethius’s influence on Chaucer and the persona of Fortune that he presents must be examined. Once this is established as a benchmark, the reader can fully understand the misconceptions Troilus has regarding fortune. Troilus clings, as Boethius does in his Consolation of Philosophy, to the memory of his faithful service to Fortune. Finally, the character of Pandarus must be addressed. He, of all Chaucer’s characters, has a firm grip on the reality of the Lady Fortune and her ever-changing nature. In fact, a close examination of the text of Troilus and Criseyde will show that Chaucer gives Pandarus a very similar role to that of Lady Philosophy in The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius’s work deals with the universal experience of suffering. He finds himself imprisoned and under threat of execution. As Boethius begins to expound his sorrows and blame “fickle Fortune” (p. 35), he finds himself comforted by none other than Lady Philosophy. Their discussion is presented at length for the reader to pass judgment on. The section particularly confronting Boethius’s misconceptions of Fortune and is of interest to this argument i...


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...e result is powerful and moving for the reader. Chaucer’s audience could work through the same issues presented in the Consolation and see how the are dealt with in a classic story. And even today, modern readers can draw the same conclusions from this timeless tale of love and fortune.

Works Cited

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. V.E. Watts. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books. 1969.

Camargo, Martin. “The Consolation of Pandarus.” Chaucer Review Vol. 25 No. 3 (1991) P. 214-28.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Troilus and Criseyde. Ed. Larry Benson The Riverside Chaucer.. Boston: The Houghton Mifflin Company. 1987. P. 471-585.

Jefferson, B.J. Chaucer and the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius. New York: Haskell House. 1965.

Salemi, Joseph S. “Playful Fortune and Chaucer’s Criseyde.” Chaucer Review Vol. 13 No. 3 (1979). P. 285-307

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