Troilus and Criseyde

Tiana Connell #8659 Mr. Powers AP Lang &Comp, Period 1 21 October 2011 Love’s Spell In the novel Troilus and Criseyde, by Geoffrey Chaucer, we witness the comparison of two human beings falling in love with each other. Troilus and Criseyde experience love in different ways; either by Cupid’s arrow or through the manipulations of relatives they are forced to pursue each other under love’s spell. Through their story, the readers learn the valuable lesson of love’s wrath.

In the beginning stanzas, we learned that Troilus was a strong and admirable knight of Troy. Troilus, who once joked about those who fell in love, became a victim to love himself. Cupid shot Troilus causing him to fall in love with Criseyde, the first girl he saw. “So was it with this proud and fiery knight, son of a famous king though he might be; he had supposed that nothing had the might to steer his heart against a will as free as his; yet, at a look, immediately, he was on fire, and he, in pride above all others, suddenly was slave to love”(Book I, 33).

Through Cupid’s spell on Troilus, he experienced the feeling of having loved and the pain and sorrow it brought. He became sickened by love and his entire persona suffered in devastation. Chaucer says, “And from then on love robbed him of his deep and made an enemy of his food; his sorrow increased and multiplied, he could not keep his countenance and colour, eve or morrow, had anyone noticed it; he sought to borrow the names of other illnesses, to cover his hot fire, lest it showed him as a lover” (Book I, 70).

Pandarus, Troilus’s fellow friend and uncle of his lover Criseyde, noticed Troilus’s alters in mood and discovered his love for Criseyde. Pandarus, overjoyed by the news, decided to take action by introducing them to one another and to the beginning of a sorrowful adventure. Instead of being hit by Cupid’s arrow, Criseyde was encouraged by her uncle, Pandarus, to give Troilus’s love a chance. He confronted Criseyde and questioned her opinion of Troilus, in hopes to persuade her into a relationship with him.

However, when Pandarus informed Criseyde of Troilus’s love for her, she became upset with the inappropriateness of the subject. “With that he ceased to speak, and hung his head, and she burst out in tears as she replied ‘Alas, for grief! O why am I not dead, since all good faith on earth has surely died? What would a stranger do to me; she cried, ‘When one I thought my friend, the best of them, bids me to seek a love he should condemn? ”(Book II, 59). Although she was honored by Troilus’s flattering notes, Criseyde in return did not show any mutual emotions in her responding letters. She gave him thanks for every good intention towards her, but declined to give him ground for greater hope; she never would be bound in love, save as a sister; this, to please him, she gladly would allow, if that could ease him”(Book II, 175). However, through the pressures of Pandarus, Troilus and Criseyde became lovers, until the war began, which inevitably separated them. Criseyde promised to come back to Troilus when time permitted. However, the untruthful Criseyde gave her heart and broach, given to her from Troilus, to Diomede in the midst of war.

Chaucer’s objective in the writing of Troilus and Criseyde was to portray the confusing and mixed messages of love. In the beginning of the novel we are taught that love is the most fulfilling emotion one can experience. He explains

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the happiness and joy that love brings through Troilus and Criseyde’s romantic relationship. However, in the ending of the story Chaucer shares the pain and sorrow of love. He warns readers to stay away and focus all love on God. “Oh all you fresh young people, he or she, in whom love grows ripens year by year, come home, come home from worldly vanity!

Cast the heart’s countenance in love and fear upwards to God, who in His image here has mad you; think this world is but a fair passing as soon as flower-scent in air” (Book V, 263). Therefore, Chaucer leaves the audience with confusion of love. Through Cupid’s arrow and Pandarus’s manipulation, the reader develops the story of Troilus and Criseyde’s roller coaster relationship of love. Though it began in beauty and happiness, and ended in grief and sorrow, the audience is taught a valuable lesson about love from Geoffrey Chaucer. Sometimes love brings happiness, while other times it brings misery.

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