‘Language in her eye’
The expressive face of Criseyde/ Cressida
in Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare
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In Troilus and Cressida, William Shakespeare invokes the trope of the speaking face, or the speaking body. But where Criseyde's face speaks silently and evocatively in a way that is utterly captivating to Troilus, Shakespeare's Ulysses 'reads' Cressida far more negatively. The examples from Geoffrey Chaucer and Shakespeare are very diverse, but all point to the inevitable ventriloquism in which authors make their characters speak, whether through spoken or unspoken words or through body language. In contrast to Chaucer's Troilus, and Giovanni Boccaccio's Criseida, Criseyde's expression is more complex. The rightly famous account of Criseyde's expression is of a different order from the other appearances of her face in the poem. Jill Mann invokes Criseyde's expressive face as one of the many means by which Chaucer produces the idea of a large 'reservoir of thoughts and feeling.

Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare

Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida


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