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Lecture 30

ENGL 4723 Lecture 30: Troilus and Cressida Notes (Week 11)

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ENGL 4723
Edward J Jones

Troilus and Cressida Bring to text knowledge of the Trojan War: Helen of Troy kidnapped by Trojan prince Paris, was wife of Greek warrior prince Menelaus. Sources of Chaucer and translated Homer (latin). Purpose of Trojan war: getting Helen back and war prizes for others. Act I: seven years into a ten year war. Trojan epic is tragic, not comedic. Romance set as a comic twist inside tragic epic? Tragic comedy, dark comedy, a mixture of comedy. They both like each other, Pandarus her uncle—he will woo her for him—Greeks not an issue because they are outside the walls. Cressida/Pandarus on walls watch Greek warriors go by, like Helen on walls pointing out who is who in Homer. Troilus doesn’t have access to Cressida, but Pandarus as uncle does. He is tired of being the go between. Link between Troilus and Cressida and two sets of Greek warriors that won’t fight [Achilles and Patroclus, and Ajax and Thersites]. Respect from peers by winning. Seven years and haven’t won, not united, no allegiance—many are there for war prizes and glory. Also the gods aren’t all on board with the Greeks [fate and free will]—third generation Olympians. Love relationship inside the context of Troy—private element inside well-known Greek epics/characters. Ulysses famous Act I soliloquy—deals with Elizabethan world view. Confidence to navigate Shakespeare because of great reputation as a writer. Shakespeare takes freedom with attacking the Trojan war: Ulysses reading a book (oral tradition for Homer)—no reading, telling war stories/epics—reflection of Shakespeare’s time not Homer’s. Troilus doesn’t want to fight because he is in love—too distracting. Ajax not the same as in Homer—illiterate—not as smart as other characters—not educated, a good soldier—all that matters—used as a took to make Achilles mad and jealous—he is expendable and Achilles is not. Achilles and Ulysses conversation: what is clear to Achilles is not clear to Ulysses—Ulysses is known as the man with words, able to persuade others—discussion of philosophy and matter in the universe, Ulysses pretend ignorance or not? Use Ajax to explain the shifting status of Achilles, in words ajax cannot understand, Ajax a clown is getting all the praise when he doesn’t seem to deserve it—image of Ajax vanquishing Hector, while Achilles sits and does nothing. (no indication of Achilles war prize being take—only have what Shakespeare gives)
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