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C. Compare And Contrast The Representation Of Love In Shakespeare’s Troilus And Cressida And Chaucer’s The Book Of The Duchess

1164 words - 5 pages

Throughout history, love and the issues in love, has been a theme in many writers’ poems and stories. The tales of two people united together by love. In the texts, Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare and The Book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer, love is represented in many ways. Some of the similarities between the two texts is that they both have the themes of love being represented through physical aspects and through loss. The treatment of women through language, however, contrasts between the two texts, as love is represented differently. Idealistic beauty is represented as love throughout both texts.
One of the similarities between the two texts is that love is based and ...view middle of the document...

Another similarity between the texts is that both Troilus and the Black Knight lose the women they love. The love is represented in these events by the trading of words between Troilus and Cressida, as she is about to be traded to the Greeks. “Cressid, I love thee in so strained a purity, that the blest gods, as angry with my fancy…take thee from me.”(IV.4 – 23)¹. Cressida’s reaction to the news was much different than of Troilus’. Troilus acted calm and composed himself when taking Cressida to the Greeks, whereas Cressida threatened to disfigure herself, in order not to be taken. “Tear my hair, and scratch my praised cheeks; Crack my clear voice with sobs, and break my heart with sounding ‘Troilus’. “ (IV.2-3 – 106) ¹ It is shown here, the deep affection that they do share for one another, although Troilus has remained calm, he knows that there is no other choice, and acts maturely. It is evident that he does care for Cressida, as he promises to visit her in the night.
The way loss is depicted in The Book of the Duchess is through the death of Lady White. The Black Knights sings of his loss and his sorrow that has followed his wife’s death. Chaucer’s language is peppered with affectionate phrasing and sentiments “My swete wyf” (201) but is equivalently practical, accepting the lamentable finality of death. Allas! that I was bore, That was the los, that here before… `She is deed!” (1300)². The love for Lady White is represented in the amount of sorrow and grief that the Black Knight is going through after her death and the extent of his love for her.
A contrast between the two texts is the treatment of the women they love. In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, the treatment of love is shallow and rather false. The two were united by Pandarus and soon after went to a private bedroom together. After that night, it is apparent that Troilus wishes to get away quickly. However, there were few times when the couples shared romantic language, other than that the language is fairly discourteous and vulgar. This is apparent when Cressida is called a whore several times in the play. Also, when Troilus tears up Cressida’s letter, he assumed the worst of her after listening in on her conversation with Diomede. Cressida is treated with inferiority and does not have much quality or class.

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