John Drakakis
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The presence of Troilus and Cressida
Shakespeare’s refurbishment of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
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William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida occupies an intermediate position, in its belated appearance in the Folio between Henry VIII and Coriolanus: between 'history' and 'tragedy', and in its title between two 'tragedies', Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra. In Geoffrey Chaucer's poem, one of the acknowledged 'sources' of Shakespeare's play, the 'interiority of the subjects' is preserved, with emphasis upon the lovers' 'feelings'. E. Talbot Donaldson's intelligent view of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is that of 'a portrait of a woman of almost mythological femininity, and readers respond to such a portrait by becoming their own mythmakers'. Criseyde's infidelity is a consequence of her inscription in a symbolic order that commits her to weakness in the face of masculine power. For Cressida, that 'madness of discourse' has always been a possibility, a protection against the power vested in patriarchy.

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Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare

Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida


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