Ambiguity and Understanding of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde Essays

Ambiguity and Understanding of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde Essays

Length: 1727 words (4.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Ambiguity and Understanding of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

 
      One of the aspects of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde that seemed most confusing at first was the apparent ambiguity or complete lack of motivation that the author provides for the main characters. Chaucer provides little explanation for why his major characters act the way that they do; when he does, his explanations are often ambiguous or contradictory. Pandarus is an excellent example of a character whose motives are ambiguous. The only motives clearly attributable to him based on the poem's text seem to be the friendship and affection he and Troilus have for each other, which is supported by the narrator's claim that "Pandarus ... [was] desirous to serve his fulle frend." (Chaucer 1.1058-9); a voyeuristic instinct (which could be supported by pointing out that Pandarus seems to arrange opportunities for Troilus and Criseyde to tryst, as much as possible, in his presence -- for instance, his presence for an unspecified length of time during the night Troilus and Criseyde spend in his guest room); and a wish to vicariously fulfill, through his friend Troilus, those romantic desires which have been thwarted throughout life. This last (and perhaps most supportable) explanation is suggested by the constant identifications that Pandarus makes with Troilus, by saying "myn avys anoon may helpen us" and in asking Troilus if "Fortune oure joie wold han overthrowe," and by his explanation that "I ... nevere felte in my servyse / A frendly cheere or lokyng of an eye." (1.620, 4.385, 4.397-8) All of these motives for Chaucer's Pandarus could be supported, but none seems clearly to be more plausible than any of the others. However, for these vaguely defined motives,...


... middle of paper ...


...uld be portrayed as less happy: he has lost Criseyde, has been denied revenge against her new lover, and is dead. It is hard to imagine a more forceful combination of facts with writing to make a point. As if to drive it home, Chaucer's narrator then refers to "Jove, Apollo, ... Mars" as "swich rascaille," or rabble.

 

Subtleties of middle English can be confusing for a new reader and first, and "entente" is a word with subtle variations in meaning and a variety of connotations. Properly understood, though, it adds a great deal to an understanding of Chaucer's Troilus.

 

References

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Troilus and Criseyde in The Riverside Chaucer. General Ed. Benson, Larry D. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Tatlock, John S.P., and Arthur G. Kennedy. A Concordance to the Complete Work of Geoffrey Chaucer. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1963.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

- Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is a very widely applauded work of poetry. His works, which include the extensive Canterbury Tales, have a history of being appealing to a variety of people, from the members of the Court to the lesser population. This, some would say, would probably be because Chaucer chooses to direct his writings at all types of characters through the medium of language topical issues and style, but Troilus and Criseyde is a work vastly culminating towards a fairly restricted audience....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
2383 words (6.8 pages)

Essay on Images of Love in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

- Images of Love in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde       The image of love created by Chaucer in Book I of "Troilus and Criseyde" is one which elicits pity rather than admiration. Yet, the poet professes to serve and celebrate the God of Love. Is the superficially motivated but all-consuming passion sparked in Troilus meant to serve as a warning to other lovers or a model. With the presence of several narrative interjections by the poet himself suggesting a method of interpretation, clearly some emphasis is placed upon an audience's ability to learn from "The double sorwe of Troilus" (1)....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
532 words (1.5 pages)

Troilus And Criseyde And The Book Of The Duchess Essays

- Geoffrey Chaucer has successfully developed several themes which are seen throughout his works. Although the literary techniques that Chaucer uses are not his own, these themes which reoccur are in the one of a kind style which defines Chaucer's works. In both Troilus and Criseyde and The Book of the Duchess, the characters of Troilus and the Black Knight go through heartache and sorrow because of a love they once had but both lost. Both characters are young and naive when it comes to matters of the heart and leave their fate in the hands of Cupid and Fortune....   [tags: Chaucer Geoffrey]

Powerful Essays
1054 words (3 pages)

Essay on The Character of Criseyde in Troilus and Criseyde

- The Character of Criseyde in Troilus and Criseyde       Criseyde is a woman that is easily manipulated by male characters throughout Troilus and Criseyde. Despite being taken advantage of often, she takes advantage of each fall, making it into joy.   The first important passage is when Pandarus first approaches Criseyde on behalf of Troilus. At the beginning on Pandarus' pleading, Criseyde is reluctant to accept Troilus. She has her doubts about the entire affair as any sane girl would. She exclaims that Pandarus is placing a double standard on her by saying she should get to know Troilus knowing his intentions are to love her....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
675 words (1.9 pages)

Troilus and Criseyde Love Analysis Essay

- Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde focuses on Troilus role as a lover. The story relates to Troilus romance build on inside the framework of courtly love. Courtly love was a popular and common theme in literary works in the thirteenth century. Usually, courtly love is defined to be a secret between members of nobility. Criseyde is not a truthful lover and she is to blame alone as we all know Troilus love for her was very strong. Her love for him was nothing but a lie. Come to think of it this kind of love cannot possibly exist....   [tags: geoffrey chaucer, courtly love, lover]

Powerful Essays
1216 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Narrative Frames and Interpretive Models in Troilus and Criseyde

- Narrative Frames and Interpretive Models in Troilus and Criseyde         Interpretive certainty is purposely elusive in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde". Meaning within the text is convoluted and continually renegotiated. Any attempt to design a singular coherent stable source of meaning is problematic at best. Throughout the work, narrative frames are broken and reordered and the validity of any fixed interpretive model is challenged. Virtually every broad thematic discussion developed is potentially qualified or compromised by the presence of a key figure, the narrator of the poem....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
1997 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on Poynte in Troilus and Criseyde

- Poynte in Troilus and Criseyde       Poynte Book III of Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is marked by attentive description of the clandestine first encounter of Trolius and Criseyde at Trolius' bedside. The narrator spares his audience few details in the portrait, recounting extensive dialogue and even the physical mannerisms of the two characters. Chaucer's carefully chosen language and integration of literary vocabulary "echo[es] the concern of the medieval author to elaborate his text by the use of the ornaments of rhetoric" (Burnley, 162)....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
856 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on Courtly Love in Troilus and Criseyde

- Courtly Love in Troilus and Criseyde        Courtly love was a popular theme in literary works and poetry in thirteenth century Europe.  Andreas Capellanus, chaplain to Marie de France and author of the classic The Art of Courtly Love defines courtly love as "...a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish above all things the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of love's precepts in the other's embrace."   In reality, courtly love was no more than an explicit court of rules for committing adultery.  However, in literary works, the basis of chivalry became the prese...   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Powerful Essays
3832 words (10.9 pages)

Essay on Influence of Boethius on Troilus and Criseyde

- Influence of Boethius on Troilus and Criseyde Around 524, the Christian philosopher Boethius awaited his death. During the last stage of his life, he composed one of the most influential writings of the Medieval period: The Consolation of Philosophy. C.S. Lewis says of the work, "To acquire a taste for it is almost to become naturalized in the Middle Ages" (Lewis 75). Over 800 years later, Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most highly praised authors in the English language, would draw upon Boethius to compose his finest work, Troilus and Criseyde....   [tags: Troilus Criseyde Essays]

Free Essays
1065 words (3 pages)

Character Construction in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde Essay

- Character Construction in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer’s epic poem, Troilus and Criseyde, is not a new tale, but one Chaucer merely expanded upon. One of these expansions that Chaucer’s work has become renowned for is the improvement of the characters. Generally, Chaucer’s characters have more texture, depth, humanity, and subtlety than those of the previous tales. Of the three main figures in the epic poem, Troilus, Criseyde, and Pandarus, Pandarus is the character that Chaucer took the most liberty with, creating and evolving Pandarus until he had taken on an entirely different role....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Powerful Essays
2891 words (8.3 pages)