Troilus and Cressida (Vol. 71)
Troilus and Cressida
For further information on the critical and stage history of Troilus and Cressida, see SC, Volumes 3, 18, 27, 43, and 59.
Troilus and Cressida, a love story set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, has been classified as one of Shakespeare's “problem” plays. The difficulty in properly categorizing the play's genre has plagued critics of Troilus and Cressida throughout its publication history—on the Quarto title page it is dubbed a history, in the Quarto epistle it is labeled comedy, and in its Folio edition it is classified as tragedy. Modern critics continue to debate the proper generic designation of the play, and often look to its style and structure for clues in resolving this issue. Ambiguity is a problem for the play in other ways as well, including characterization and Shakespeare's treatment of gender relations, two topics that form the basis of much critical discussion. Shakespeare's treatment of historical and legendary elements of the Trojan War is another area of critical study, as well as Elizabethan attitudes toward this history and the parallels between the play and Elizabethan politics. Considered to be Shakespeare's most pessimistic play, Troilus and Cressida has not been always been popular on the stage; however, twentieth-century productions have proven successful.
Shakespeare's Cressida has often been dismissed as a shallow, cold, calculating prostitute; however, some recent evaluations challenge this perception of her character. Grant L. Voth and Oliver H. Evans (1975) are among those critics who find Cressida to be more complex than is often acknowledged. Voth and Evans examine Cressida's progress throughout the play, observing her journey from a position of awareness to deception and once again to awareness. The critics maintain that the decisions Cressida makes are more challenging and better motivated than is usually assumed. Stephen J. Lynch (see Further Reading) argues that while Cressida's sexuality is often the focus of critical studies, it is her perceptive and accurate wit that is most important in the play. Lynch asserts that Cressida correctly understands her own nature and that of the world surrounding her. The relationship of Cressida and Troilus is another area of critical examination, particularly in terms of the way this relationship relates to the issues concerning gender. David McCandless (1997) contends that the play leaves the issue of sexual difference unresolved and that Shakespeare portrayed the Trojan War as an arena of emasculation. McCandless sees Troilus as an image of male subjectivity and demonstrates how Troilus seeks to purify sex by configuring it in terms of the consumption of maternal sustenance. According to McCandless, Troilus's view of sex is as an exclusively oral, de-phallicized experience, one in which Cressida is transformed into a symbol of the maternal body. At the same time, McCandless argues, Troilus finds the sex act to be autoerotic and incapable of satisfying desire; the female body thus becomes a mere receptacle. Taking another approach to the gender issues at work in the play, Daniel Juan Gil (2001) demonstrates that the Greek and Trojan warriors in Troilus and Cressida have grown weary of the establishment of homosocial bonds through the bodies of women. Supporting his contentions with a study of Renaissance thinking on the nature of personal identity and the definition of the self, Gil argues that the warriors want to distinguish personal sexual identity from social relationships and experience.
Shakespeare's treatment of historical and legendary elements of the Trojan War is another area of critical study. Heather James (1997) explores the Elizabethan attitudes reflected in Shakespeare's treatment of history and legend in Troilus and Cressida, explaining that at the time the play was written the legend of the Trojan War and its warriors and lovers were viewed with mixed emotions by Elizabethans. James asserts that Shakespeare's refusal to retain any authority or integrity in terms of the Troy legend or Troilus reflects Elizabethan cynicism regarding the political exploitation of history and legend. James also relates elements of the play to the Essex rebellion (1601), and finds that Essex's ambition and chivalry are reflected in Shakespeare's Achilles and Hector. Essex's treasonous actions, James further observes, are comparable to Achilles and Ulysses' exposure of him. Like Heather James, James E. Savage (1964) finds correlations between the play and Elizabethan politics, particularly those events concerning the Earl of Essex. Savage identifies Hector, rather than Achilles, as Essex's allegorical counterpart, and suggests that in this play Shakespeare was speculating on the dangers of factionalism and the inevitability of Essex's fate. Just as James and Savage both find that the play refers in some way to Essex, Mario Domenichelli (see Further Reading) argues that Troilus and Cressida deals directly with Essex's effort to secure the aristocracy's role in the government of England. Domenichelli further claims that the play may be understood as a comment on the hopelessness of the revival of chivalry in Elizabethan times, a revival extinguished by the failure of Essex's revolt and his ensuing execution.
Critics are also interested in the controversy regarding the proper generic designation of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Within a few years of its initial publication, the play had been labeled variously as history, comedy, and tragedy. Modern critics such as J. C. Oates (1966) continue this debate. Oates asserts that several factors, including the use and rejection of the elements of ritual, the opposition to the values of tragedy, and the anachronistic placing of a tragic hero within an anti-tragic environment, all serve to undermine the play's designation as tragedy. Camille Slights (1974) finds that through the effects of the play's paralleling of scenes and the love and war plots, Shakespeare created what may be called a tragic satire. Other critics suggest that Shakespeare was attempting to design an entirely new dramatic form. Marvin Glasser (1986) demonstrates that in London's theatrical world during the late sixteenth century, novelty of form and structure were more important than the soundness of a play's plot. Glasser goes on to examine the resemblance of the formal effects of Troilus and Cressida to the visual effects found in paintings contemporary with the play. For example, Glasser cites the similarities between Shakespeare's use of various perspectives in a scene and the use of varying visual perspectives in paintings of the time. Such innovations, Glasser explains, were reactions to the changing notions of time and space, which led to a new understanding concerning the relationship between subject and object. Like Glasser, Jean-Pierre Maquerlot (1995) observes the parallels between literary and visual art during this time period. Maquerlot contends that Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida employs techniques similar to those used in contemporary Mannerist paintings. Just as Mannerist paintings portray the image of a stark world with no shadows, background, or perspectives, Shakespeare's depiction of the world of the play is similarly drawn according to such a desperate and relentless view. The characters as well, Maquerlot notes, are depicted in a way that accords with the Mannerist method of “ironic separation,” that is, in sometimes contradictory positions. Maquerlot explains that Shakespeare was attempting to portray the Trojan War as presented by Homer, as well as the love story of Troilus and Cressida as depicted by Chaucer, in a way that highlighted the modern disillusionment with the ideal of chivalry.
Shakespeare's ambiguities in tone and characterization have presented modern directors with unique challenges in staging Troilus and Cressida. The Royal Shakespeare Company's 1996 production directed by Ian Judge received mixed reviews on the effectiveness of the staging and on individual performances. Paul Taylor (1996) praises a few “sequences of real power” in the production, as well as Victoria Hamilton's persuasive performance as Cressida. Taylor also finds that the characters of Hector and Ulysses were strikingly portrayed, but contends that Richard McCabe's Thersites was overly ingratiating, and Joseph Fiennes's Troilus “distinctly irritating.” David Murray (1996) reviews the same production, and, like Taylor, faults Fiennes's whining performance as Troilus. Murray additionally disparages Hamilton's Cressida, but finds the production as a whole effectively and consistently staged. In Tom Markus's production of Troilus and Cressida for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the director set the play during the American Civil War. Critiquing the production, Alan Dumas (1997) does not view this change in setting to be particularly effective, although he does praise the staging of the play's action sequences. Sandra Brooks-Dillard (1997) discusses Markus's production as well, describing it as a strong staging filled with exceptional performances by the actors. Other productions have received mixed reviews, including Sir Peter Hall's staging for the American Place Theatre in New York, a production which reviewer Michael Sommers (2001) found to be disappointingly ambivalent. Kenneth Albers's direction of the play for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was characterized, observes critic Steven Winn (2001), by “missed opportunities.”
Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: Voth, Grant L. and Oliver H. Evans. “Cressida and the World of the Play.” Shakespeare Studies 8 (1975): 231-39.
[In the following essay, Voth and Evans challenge critics who dismiss Cressida as a calculating prostitute, contending that a close study of her character reveals the difficulty of her decisions and the motivation behind her actions.]
Despite the range and diversity of critical approaches to and estimates of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, one judgment has remained constant: Cressida is a mere prostitute, a cold and calculating woman; she is Falsehood in Love.1 Even her defenders (and she has had a few) have qualified their admiration of her wit, beauty, and charm by finding her too frail to fulfill Troilus's idealization of her or to answer his love in kind.2 Whatever else critics have disagreed about in reading the play, such estimates of Cressida's character have seldom been called into question.
One of the reasons for her dismissal by the critics has been their desire to talk about Troilus. His role and character, unlike Cressida's, have been fully discussed, and responses to him have ranged from unqualified admiration to disdain.3 Such exclusive attention to Troilus, however helpful it has been in illuminating his part in the play, has not been entirely fair to Cressida. Her character is not as static as critics have...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: Taylor, Paul. Review of Troilus and Cressida. The Independent (26 July 1996): 6.
[In the following review of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Troilus and Cressida, directed by Ian Judge, Taylor comments on the production's more powerful sequences and praises a few individual performances, including Victoria Hamilton's Cressida, Louis Hilyer's Hector, and Phillip Voss's Ulysses.]
Ian Judge is a director who could bring out the feelgood factor in Oedipus Rex. He's the man who converted the complex tonalities of Twelfth Night into a crudely reassuring, tourist-friendly entertainment, replete with a cosy Stratford skyline of half-timbered houses. A Christmas Carol for Judge is a work that needs beefing up in the sentimentality department: hence the ton of icing sugar he tipped over it in his RSC staging. Grown men quailed at the prospect of what he might do to the mordantly nihilistic world of Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare's systematically anti-heroic take on the Trojan War.
It's a relief to report, then, that there are sequences of real power in his new account of the play on the Stratford main stage. True, it's by no means free from those trademark “winning” details. In the scene where the Greek leaders pass by Achilles and Patroclus and tactically affect an airy disregard for the couple, Colin Farrell's Menelaus quite unnecessarily...
(The entire section is 584 words.)
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SOURCE: Murray, David. “All Sweat and Tangas: Theatre.” The Financial Times (6 December 1996): 17.
[In the following review, Murray assesses the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Troilus and Cressida, directed by Ian Judge. Murray's review is mixed as he finds fault with Joseph Fiennes's whining Troilus and with Victoria Hamilton's shallow Cressida, but praises several of the other male roles and states that as a whole the production offered a “defensible” take on the play.]
Ian Judge's RSC production of Troilus and Cressida has come up from Stratford-on-Avon to the Barbican. Troilus is not among the favoured Shakespeare plays that come round regularly (it is perhaps thought to be too raunchy for A-levels), so we want it to be lucid and not overly kinked. That is what Judge gives us: a near- complete text, mostly well spoken, in a staging that has its epic passages and some teasing slants.
The main slant is toward sweaty, homerically masculine affairs. The women—Cassandra, Helen, Andromache and Cressida herself—live only on the margins of the real (but meaningless) action, a blind sporting contest between the Trojan guys and the Greeks.
In thongs and tangas, the men preen, pose and compete to the death. While Cressida's lubricious uncle Pandarus identifies the Trojan heroes for her, Judge has them stripping off for a steam-bath....
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SOURCE: Dumas, Alan. “Troilus Sends Bard Off to Civil War.” Rocky Mountain News (18 July 1997): 16D.
[In the following review, Dumas discusses the Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of Troilus and Cressida, directed by Tom Markus. Although he finds the cast “functional,” Dumas is not impressed by the director's change of the play's setting from the Trojan War to the American Civil War.]
Update the language and it would be easy to believe that Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida was written during the cynical 1960s.
There are moments of pitch-black comedy—anti-romantic, anti-war, anti-authoritarian and subversive in every respect. In this world there are no good guys, just varying degrees of corruption.
The original play was set during the Trojan War, a conflict in which, in Homer's account, it was easy to tell heroes from cowards. Not here. Years of fighting has left both sides craven in spirit. The Trojans' honor has been stained from the start as they harbor Helen, the rightful wife of the Greek captain Menelaus, stolen by the Trojan Paris.
The Greeks have become soft and quarrelsome as their hero Achilles sulks in his tent with his lover, refusing to fight.
This is not a fertile atmosphere for young romance, but the Trojan prince Troilus nonetheless falls for the Trojan lady Cressida. True to...
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SOURCE: Brooks-Dillard, Sandra. “Smartly Staged Troilus and Cressida Disparages War.” The Denver Post (1 August 1997): F-09.
[In the following review of Troilus and Cressida directed by Tom Markus for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Brooks-Dillard praises the strength of the production as a whole and also comments on the excellence of the players' performances.]
Troilus and Cressida, one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, gets a bang-up production at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, thanks to strong staging, striking images, excellent performances and the creative vision of director Tom Markus.
As the play starts, the Greek and Trojan armies have been locked in battle for seven years, as the Greek commander seeks to avenge the kidnapping of his wife, Helen, by Paris, the son of the Trojan king.
Markus chooses to set the tale during the Civil War period, with the Trojans as residents of Troy, Ga., and the Greeks as Union soldiers.
The drama has much to say about the tragedy (and foolishness) of war and the unnecessary waste of human life. The message is emphasized by the horrendous matter-of-fact body counts flashed to the audience on a lighted news ticker board that marks the battlefield tolls from Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run and more.
Hanging above a stark black-and-white war-era mural that...
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SOURCE: Sommers, Michael. “Shakespeare's Tough Nut Stays in Shell.” The Star Ledger (19 April 2001): 63.
[In the following review of Troilus and Cressida directed by Sir Peter Hall at the American Place Theatre in New York, Sommers finds the production “ambivalent” and praises only a few individual performances.]
The great warrior Achilles is dismissed as “a fusty nut with no kernel” by someone in Troilus and Cressida, and if it's badly produced, Shakespeare's strange episode from the Trojan Wars could easily be described in like terms.
A corrosively cynical behind-the-scenes look at legendary heroes, Troilus and Cressida is one of Shakespeare's most experimental and least-performed works. Dwelling upon inconstancy in both love and war, the drama itself is marked by inconsistent characters and unsettling shifts in tone. A whirling weathervane of a play that screams for bold direction to point it in one way or another, Troilus and Cressida receives a regrettably ambivalent staging by Sir Peter Hall. Opening last Sunday at American Place Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience's revival may be clearly spoken by its actors but needs far better expression as drama.
The story unfolds during a stalemate in the eighth year of the Greek siege of Troy. The Greek leaders squabble while the Trojans, with some misgivings, hold on to Helen. A...
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SOURCE: Winn, Steven. “Troilus Triumphs in Ashland; Cynical Comedy is Best of Opening Trio at Summer Shakespeare Festival.” San Francisco Chronicle (19 June 2001): E1.
[In the following review, Winn critiques the staging of Troilus and Cressida directed by Kenneth Albers for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, maintaining that despite the production's “missed opportunities,” it was the best of the outdoor shows at the festival.]
Theater happens in a big way at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That can be a mixed blessing with the country's largest repertory company, which opened its prime summer season over the weekend with three outdoor Shakespeare productions at the Elizabethan Theatre.
Spectacle and the sheer administrative achievement of rotating nine shows in three houses have a way of trumping the artistic adventure at times. The festival mounts 11 productions overall, in a bill that runs from February through late October and draws an audience of about 380,000 to this hilly southern Oregon hamlet.
Size, when it comes to the company's absorbing new production of Troilus and Cressida, is an impressive and instrumental asset. When the Greeks and Trojans finally strap on their armor, well into this ripely cynical comedy about men and their terrible games of war and lust, the display of heroic breastplates and fearsome helmets, flashing...
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SOURCE: Savage, James E. “Troilus and Cressida and Elizabeth Court Factions.” University of Mississippi Studies in English 5 (1964): 43-66.
[In the following essay, Savage suggests possible allegorical correlations between characters in Troilus and Cressida and individuals in Queen Elizabeth's court, including the Earl of Essex. Savage indicates that the play reflects Shakespeare's views regarding the factionalism within Elizabeth's court and the inevitability of Essex's fate.]
It is the purpose of this paper to suggest that there is much more reflection of contemporary events in Troilus and Cressida than commentators have noted and that this reference becomes most apparent when the assumption is made that not Achilles, but Hector, offers comment on the character and fate of the Earl of Essex.1
Critical efforts to account for this puzzling play have almost always taken note of contemporary affairs, perhaps merely denying their relevance,2 possibly seeing, as does G. B. Harrison, a rebuke to Essex under the recalcitrance of Achilles.3 The position which I wish to take is adumbrated, though not fully explored, by C. F. Tucker-Brooke, who sees these kinships: “Cecil-Ulysses” and “Raleigh-Diomed.”4 He also suggests a foreshadowing of Puritan-Cavalier relationships to come. Surely, as Harrison says elsewhere, “no one...
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SOURCE: Oates, J. C. “The Ambiguity of Troilus and Cressida.” Shakespeare Quarterly 17, no. 2 (spring 1966): 141-50.
[In the following essay, Oates studies the conflict between tragic and anti-tragic elements in Troilus and Cressida, contending that the play is best understood as a tragedy that has been purposefully undermined by brutal comic insight.]
The mock ritual of its structure and its corrupted “opposites” of reason and intuition explain partially the problem of Troilus and Cressida. Anti-tragic aspects of characterization and plot undermine the apparent tragic conception. It is this incomplete assimilation of tragic and anti-tragic elements which makes Troilus and Cressida a “problem” play long baffling to critics. That the assimilation is incomplete, however, does not suggest that Shakespeare's art here was not controlled, or that it was inferior to that of his other works, but rather that Shakespeare was dealing with a different problem in writing Troilus and Cressida. The result is dramatic, but it is not dramatic because of the essential dramatic values of the uneven story—which are unbalanced by philosophical problems—but rather because the structure of the work is conceived dramatically. Ritual is established and then shown to be mock ritual; action moves as expected and then is, improvisationally, halted, redirected, brought to no formal...
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SOURCE: Slights, Camille. “The Parallel Structure of Troilus and Cressida.” Shakespeare Quarterly 25, no. 1 (winter 1974): 42-51.
[In the following essay, Slights examines the distinctive structure of Troilus and Cressida, and concludes that through the effects of the play's paralleling of scenes and the love and war plots, Shakespeare created what may be called a tragic satire.]
More than any other play in the canon, Troilus and Cressida has been the subject of apparently limitless disagreement. Critical controversies surround almost every aspect of the play. Did Shakespeare portray the Trojans more favorably than the Greeks? Is Troilus a sensualist deceiving himself with the posturings of an outworn code of amour courtois or an idealist in a corrupt world, an embodiment of human striving for perfect love and honor? Is the play Shakespeare's experiment with the new genre of comic satire or is it an attempt at tragedy? Why is the conclusion of the play so inconclusive, ending neither in death nor in triumph for Troilus? Does Troilus and Cressida satirize decadent medieval values or does it reflect Shakespeare's disgust with love and honor, idealism and sensuality, reason and emotion? Is the play a statement of despair of all values—an image of chaos—or is it an indictment of abuses and corruptions of enduring values?
All of these questions, the...
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SOURCE: Glasser, Marvin. “Baroque Formal Elements in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.” Upstart Crow 6 (1986): 54-70.
[In the following essay, Glasser studies those formal effects of Troilus and Cressida that bear a resemblance to the visual effects common in paintings contemporary with the play, contending that both types of effects suggest a collapse of sixteenth-century thought concerning the relationship between time and space, and between subject and object.]
Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida has been described as a “keystone in the arch of Shakespeare's intellectual development,” a result of his “consciously experimenting with structure” after 1600 (of wider significance because of his being “in the mainstream of the radical change in European aesthetics of his day”), and “almost … a design of philosophical positions.”1 The tenor of these comments is that the play is less an impassioned response to a dissolving order of things than a deliberate effort to craft a new dramatic form to render new conceptualizations. According to Robert Kimbrough, it may also be a new approach to form under pressure of a rivalry with other theater groups in the Poetomachia of 1601 as Shakespeare sought “to find a platform for new ideas within the confines of the old romance plot.”2 He suggests that Shakespeare was adopting the view of Jonson and...
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SOURCE: Maquerlot, Jean-Pierre. “When Playing is Foiling: Troilus and Cressida.” In Shakespeare and the Mannerist Tradition: A Reading of Five Problem Plays, pp. 118-45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[In the following essay, Maquerlot compares the style of Troilus and Cressida to the Mannerist mode of painting popular during Shakespeare's time, and contends that Shakespeare was attempting to portray the Trojan War as presented by Homer, as well as the love story of Troilus and Cressida as depicted by Chaucer, in a way that highlighted the modern disillusionment with the ideal of chivalry.]
When Hamlet welcomes the players in Elsinore (II, ii), he asks one of them to give him an insight into his acting skills; he does this less as an audition (Hamlet's advice on the art of acting comes later during a rehearsal of ‘The Murder of Gonzago’), than to taste forthwith the pleasures of the theatre and to revel in listening to a ‘passionate speech’. Hamlet does not indicate the title of the play from which the extract is taken, but we can guess that it concerns the sorrowful love of Dido and Aeneas. In the part of the story which Hamlet knows by heart and which he wishes to hear again, Aeneas re-enacts for the Queen of Carthage one of the bloodiest episodes he took part in during the Trojan War: the murder of King Priam by Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, as revenge for the...
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SOURCE: McCandless, David. “Troilus and Cressida.” In Gender and Performance in Shakespeare's Problem Comedies, pp. 123-66. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.
[In the following essay, McCandless explores the play's approach to masculinity, particularly Shakespeare's treatment of the Trojan War as a process of emasculation. The critic maintains that the play's dramatic representation of sexual difference is left unresolved.]
Troilus and Cressida is the most problematic of the problem comedies, the most removed from the ameliorative comic structures that lend All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure a provisional integrity. It deploys the largest screen for its projected crisis in gender, turning the epic Trojan War into a vast spectacle of emasculation, and leaves its drama of sexual difference even more unresolved. It more provocatively deconstructs its sources, deflating heroic legends instead of fracturing folk tales. For these reasons, I am discussing Troilus and Cressida last, even though, chronologically speaking, it is the first of the problem comedies.
Shakespeare depicts the Trojan War as an arrested collective oedipal plot in which the quest for masculinity is frustrated by the unavailability and inadequacy of its object/obstacle/objective. Victory in war—achievement of manhood—depends upon possessing Helen, and...
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SOURCE: James, Heather. “‘Tricks We Play on the Dead’: Making History in Troilus and Cressida.” In Shakespeare's Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire, pp. 85-118. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
[In the following essay, James explores the Elizabethan attitudes reflected in Shakespeare's treatment of history and legend in Troilus and Cressida, explaining that at the time the play was written the legend of the Trojan War and its warriors and lovers were viewed with mixed emotions by Elizabethans. James additionally relates elements of the play to the Essex rebellion.]
The previous chapter argued that the gory, idiosyncratic Titus Andronicus inaugurates Shakespeare's career-long engagement of the translation of empire and that his aberrant reproductions of classical icons should be recognized as calculated assaults on the political program invested in transporting imperial authority from Rome to Elizabethan England. Titus Andronicus' eccentric rhetoric and dramaturgy raise questions about the successful transmission of imperial authority through classical myth and example, which the play gleefully strips of their competence. The legends, icons, and models that Titus once took to be reliable sources of cultural nourishment turn out to be enervated metaphors for values they have come not to betoken but betray. As signs pried loose from their...
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SOURCE: Gil, Daniel Juan. “At the Limits of the Social World: Fear and Pride in Troilus and Cressida.” Shakespeare Quarterly 52, no. 3 (2001): 336-59.
[In the following essay, Gil demonstrates that the Greek and Trojan warriors in Troilus and Cressida have grown weary of the establishment of homosocial bonds through the bodies of women. Supporting his contentions with a study of Renaissance thinking on the nature of personal identity and the definition of the self, Gil argues that the warriors want to distinguish personal sexual identity from social relationships and experience.]
The story of the Trojan War that Shakespeare retells in Troilus and Cressida seems to invoke Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's notion of “homosociality,” in which social bonds between men are secured through the bodies of women.1 The Greeks, after all, are fighting to restore the marriage bond, through which homosociality is guaranteed; moreover, the movement of Cressida from the Trojan camp to the Greek camp suggests an impulse to restore the imbalance caused by the abduction of Helen by “giving” the Greeks a Trojan woman who is said at every turn to be comparable to Helen.2
Yet many warriors in Troilus and Cressida seem weary of homosocial bonds secured in this way. This weariness is expressed in the misogyny that afflicts the Greek warriors, who look upon...
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Adamson, Jane. “‘And that's the quarrel.’” In Troilus and Cressida, by William Shakespeare, edited by Jane Adamson, pp. 1-27. Brighton, Sussex, U.K.: Harvester Press, 1987.
Reviews the major critical debates concerning Troilus and Cressida, focusing in particular on the scholarly disagreement concerning the play's tone, spirit, and genre.
Auden, W. H. “Troilus and Cressida.” Lectures on Shakespeare. 1947. Reprint. Reconstructed and edited by Arthur Kirsch, pp. 166-80. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000.
Offers an overview of the play, including a discussion of its technical problems, style, and characterization. Auden comments that the play transcends mere satire.
Domenichelli, Mario. “Renaissance Chivalry and ‘Handsome Death’ in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.” In Shakespeare and Intertextuality: The Transition of Cultures Between Italy and England in the Early Modern Period, edited by Michele Marrapodi, pp. 85-99. Rome: Bulzoni, 2000.
Examines Troilus and Cressida as a philosophical study of the Elizabethan interest in the revival of chivalry.
Honigmann, E. A. J. “Shakespeare Suppressed: The Unfortunate History of Troilus and Cressida.” In Myriad-Minded Shakespeare: Essays on the Tragedies,...
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