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In Chaucer's 'troilus And Criseyde', Troilus Is The Hero, But Criseyde Is The More Appealing Character. Discuss

2240 words - 9 pages

One of the most striking elements of Troilus and Criseyde is the difference in Chaucer's presentation of the two lovers. Whereas Troilus is certainly the better person of the two, I intend to show that the reader ultimately finds it easier to identify with and believe in the character of Criseyde, since she is by far the more credibly human in her actions and thoughts.One of the most essential factors in how the reader views the two characters is due to the narrator himself - from the first scene, the reader feels as though they know Troilus and the way in which he thinks. This is not difficult, since Troilus is, as soon as he sees Criseyde during Palladion's festival, almost unable to think ...view middle of the document...

It is also an aspect of the tragic hero to become reconciled with one's flaw in the dying moments of the tragedy. Troilus is no exception; as he dies and makes his ascent to heaven, he laughs at his tragedy, and the folly of human obsession with earthly passions. Indeed, Chaucer closes the poem with a discourse on turning to God:"O yonge, fresshe folks, he or she,[...] of youre herte up casteth the visage [...] to thilke God"Troilus learns, albeit after his death, that the agonising of humans is insignificant in comparison with the love of God.Troilus is certainly less appealing to the reader than is Criseyde, though this is not the case throughout the poem. As the poem opens, Troilus is 'hitte atte full' by love's arrow, and becomes a nervous wreck; unable to speak of or act on his love for Criseyde. The reader feels sympathy for his plight - Troilus is, to a certain extent, a victim of fate. However, we also feel somewhat exasperated by Troilus; unlike his friend Pandarus, Troilus finds himself completely incapacitated by the effect that his love for Criseyde is having on him. It is fair to say that without Pandarus' influence, Troilus would have simply pined away without confessing his love.Pandarus acts as the mediator or 'middleman' between the lovers; another classical Aristotelian device. However, as the story progresses, Pandarus finds himself less and less involved in the exchanges between his best friend and his niece. Towards the end of Book IV, as Criseyde is to be exchanged for Antenor, Troilus gains the ability to control his actions. It is a refreshing change to read that, instead of simply lamenting his bad fortune, Troilus seeks to resolve matters himself. He rides out to see the exchange take place, and gives his love a brooch, which she later gives to Diomed. Troilus is undoubtedly still very much in love with Criseyde, but he appears to have learnt to put his emotions aside and think rationally. It is at this point that the reader begins to genuinely feel for Troilus; now a far more valiant and appealing character than the one who fainted when in Criseyde's presence. In the opening verses of Book V, the reader learns that Troilus '...gan his wo ful manly for to hide,' a stark contrast to his earlier conduct.If the reader gains esteem for Troilus as the poem progresses, then the opposite may be said to be true of Criseyde. We are introduced to Criseyde at the same time as we are Troilus - at Palladion's feast. However, we are only told of her beauty and her widowhood. It is only when Pandarus visits her early in Book II that we learn anything of her true character. As Pandarus explains Troilus' affections, and attempts to woo her in his stead, the reader's impression is of a thoughtful and sensible woman. Whereas the narrator demonstrates Troilus' thought processes in his actions, we are given two entirely views of Criseyde. We see her through her actions - always carefully planned out and fitting for a woman of her social...

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