What’s Hecuba to him?
Absence, silence and lament in Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida
in Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare
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This chapter argues that Hecuba is a potent absent presence in the play, and focuses on the effects of her absence, especially on the characterization of Cressida. Troilus and Cressida was probably written very soon after Hamlet, and William Shakespeare was certainly thinking about the Troy story when he was composing Hamlet. The Legend of Good Women specifically cites Troilus and Criseyde in order to declare itself as a palinode to that preceding text. Two absent presences in the play, in addition to Hecuba and implicitly Cressida herself, are the women who wait in the literary afterlives of Ulysses and Aeneas, Penelope and Dido. In the Euripidean tradition Hecuba is not only the catalyst for lamentation among the other Trojan women but is the locus of affect more generally for other participants, mortal and divine, and for readers and audiences.

Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare

Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida

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