Troilus and Criseyde is a poem written in the middle of 1380s by a famous poet named Geoffrey Chaucer. The story is based on two lovers who are Troilus and Criseyde during the siege of troy a war in the 14th century. The war is influenced by the elopement of Paris who is a brother to Troilus, and he is also the prince of Trojan with Helen Menelaus’s wife. The story of the two lovers is written in a poetic form and is considered to be among the finest works in the 1380s. Troilus was a Trojan prince who fell in love with a lady called Criseyde and later loses her to a Greek hero called Diomedes. Criseyde promises Troilus that she will be back for him but, after some time, her love for him fades and is shifted to the Greek hero. Pandarus is like a catalyst in the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde and he control all of their encounters. Pandarus is used by Troilus to court her niece Criseyde secretly. He influences the relationship between Criseyde and Troilus without both of them knowing insisting that if anyone knows the world upon it would cry.
Although Pandarus is involved in influencing the relationship between Criseyde and Troilus, to him this is just like a game. He does care the feeling of others; he is only concerned with his own selfish interest. In the second act he quotes, "For the have I bigonne a gamen pleye". This means that he is just playing with the feeling of the two. He is so heartless that he is not even concerned with the welfare of his niece, Criseyde. This is also seen when he organizes the meeting of Troilus and Criseyde at night in her room after hiding him in the closest so as to have sex with her. Courtly love is like a secret game, and Pandarus takes this opportunity to manipulate their minds with his lies. He also says, "For I ful wel shal shape your comynge" in the first act. He thinks he has all the power to shape the relationship between his niece and the Trojan prince the way he feels it should be.
"Withouten hond, me seemeth that in towne, for this merveille ich here ech belle sown". This is among the quoted words that Troilus used when asking for help from Pandarus in the courtship deal. Troilus fully trusts Pandarus and always follows his advice. Pandarus’s advice to Troilus helps him win the heart of his niece and at the same time destroy their relationship. Troilus pays the price of respecting the principles of courtly love. The secrecy of their courtship gives Pandarus the chance to manipulate their minds without knowing. Although Criseyde is somehow sharp, and he is almost ahead of the plans of her uncle, she still believes him and follows his advice.
As we have seen, Troilus is a young, handsome and honorable man in the society and compared to Diomedes he is so much likable than him. This is so stressing for Troilus because he can not believe that Criseyde could replace him with such a looser as he call him. Although this may seem to be like pride, it is not it is just that Troilus had totally trusted and loved Criseyde. Chaucer uses time and distance to show how changes can be made. Criseyde thought that she will never fall in love with another man but her stereotypical ideal is proven wrong. The masculinity of Troilus is undermined when he spends all his time crying and mourning over her loses for his love of his life and the death of his brother hector.
Troilus is extremely disappointed with Criseyde after watching her proposing to Diomedes that she love him. This comes with a shock to Troilus, because he could not believe that Criseyde would betray him after the things they went through together. Before Criseyde was taken to his father to live with the Greeks, it had been not her with to live, but he promised Troilus that he loves him and that he will be back for him. This kept Troilus waiting, and at last he gave up waiting and decided to go for her. He is taken by Ulysses who is among the Greek commanders to Calchas’s tent. This is where he secretly watches Criseyde proposing to Diomedes of his feelings towards him. However, this does mean that Criseyde no longer love Troilus, she only did this because she saw that they are not destined to be together because of the challenges they faced to be with one another. Diomedes used by Criseyde to help her forget Troilus.
Proverbs are short expression with hidden meaning and full of wisdom got from experiences. In this poem, Pandarus is characterized by consistently using proverbs in his speeches. The use of proverbs in Pandarus’s conversation brings the outlook that almost all the human experiences are repeated, and we should learn through previous experiences. Pandarus’s use of proverbs makes him look like a prophet because all he says eventually comes to pass. In this poem, Pandarus is seen to be a comedian through the flow of his conversation. He is impatient with people who are scared taking action fast, who waste time, and those who do not try. His cunning character is brought about by the trust people have for him especially his niece and the Trojan prince. Most of the proverbs used by Pandarus are meant to enlighten and caution the people or the Trojan prince.
Pandarus uses proverbs to confuse and convince Troilus to act according to his interest. He quotes," first vertu is to keep tonge"(bk.III, 1. 1,512). He uses this proverb to advice Troilus, yet he can not follow the advice in the proverb. He uses his knowledge to distort other people yet he says that this is wrong. Although Troilus comes from a loyal family and he is a warrior, he is still not sharp compared to Pandarus. Pandarus uses his cunning technique to borrow ideas from Criseyde, uses them to manipulate Troilus and uses Troilus ideas to trick Criseyde. The proverb used means; one should avoid talking so much but concentrate in listening in order to gain wisdom. According to Pandarus’s lifestyle, this proverb is ironical. He believes in trying without wasting chances, making friends and yet he advices Troilus that he should not do that.
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“It is not good a sleping hound to wake”. (bk. I, 640).In this story, Pandarus uses his knowledge in cunning them and making better decisions for them. For instance, by making Troilus open to him, and through his confessions he knew that he was the right man for his niece and Criseyde will be contented with a younger man than someone who was so much older than her. He says that although he suffers for the guilt of cunning people, he only does that for their own sakes. Apart from the meaning of his name, Pandarus shows his busy body quality when he hides Troilus in a closet for him to have sex with his niece Criseyde. He is always curious of the conversation between Troilus and Criseyde and pretends to be reading story books, yet he is listening. Pandarus is neither Christian nor pagan; he says that he only believes in love.
Throughout the poem, Troilus holds on his promise to love her till the last minute, despite being honorable and being admired by many people including girls he is still faithful to her, he chose to save her desires and he also maintain the secrecy of their courtship. On the other hand, Criseyde does not fully fulfill her role as the loved lady. He quotes, “Of harmes two the less is for to chose” (bk. II, l, 470). She does not fight for her love as seen when he received the news of her exchange. She does question the Greek authority during her exchange, and she keeps the secret of her courtship, and makes people believe that she is crying of happiness and they even congratulate her for the exchange. At first, she starves her self in order to remain faithful to her lover, but after some time she also does not believe how unfaithful she became and betrayed Troilus’s love for her.
As the saying goes, “For of Fortune's Sharpe adversite”, the worste kynde of infortune is this, A man to hav bent in prosperite, and it remembren whan it passed is. (bk. III, l. 1,625). This is one of the proverbs used by proverb Pandarus in the poem. This means, the predictions of foolish people will all be the opposite of what they expect. By this, he wanted to say that he can not be compared to fools and all that he says eventually comes to pass. He stated this while he was advising Troilus on the best tricks to use, in order to make Criseyde fall for him. Troilus was successful in winning Criseyde’s heart because of his obedience and trust he had towards Pandarus. This proves how smart Pandarus was and determined he was in making sure that Troilus succeeds in courting his niece. The proverb used by Pandarus is to Troilus to be sharp and follow his advice, and he will eventually see that Pandarus is wise enough to make right solution. Although he was always influencing his niece to give Troilus a chance behind his back, he kept this as a secret and none of them knew his role in their courtship.
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The Wise men were as sober as a judge when they stated, “The sapling that will bow and bend is better than the one that breaks” (bk. III, l. 1,672). This proverb was quoted by Pandarus, when he was trying to console Troilus after losing her to Diomedes. The Trojan prince was so stressed by the betrayal and thought that he was so stupid to have fallen in love with her. Pandarus knew the reason that made Criseyde find another man and he convinced Troilus that they were just not meant for each other. He also told him that he is lucky that he will always remember her with the love making at the tent that was organized by Pandarus. The proverb waste encourage Troilus not to regret having a relationship with Criseyde, and that he was wise that he never wasted the chance he had with her. Pandarus tells him that although they will never be together their memories will always join them. It was brave for him to give a shot than to have ignored his feelings.
Pandarus stated, "Go, little booke! go, my little tragedie!”(bk V, 1. 2,567). He was cautioning his niece. Criseyde had become like an object to satisfy men’s desires. In her new home living with his father, she was involved with different men and this became too much for Troilus because he could not believe that she would be capable of such mean behaviors. Pandarus told her that this may bring her more problems since every one was fighting for her. This sounds ironical because all this was brought by Pandarus as he was trying to examine if love can conquer the challenges around them. Troilus is not like Paris his brother who ran away with Helen provoking the Greeks and leading to war. His brother is not even concern of the consequences he just do thing stupidly as stated by Pandarus. Unlike his elder brother hector, Troilus proves to be man enough when he follows Pandarus advice of aborting the mission he had planned against Diomedes.
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Pandarus stated "He helde about him alway, out of drede, A world of folke." (bk III, 1.1, 564). Pandarus tell his niece, Criseyde that for a man to have a man by her side always, she should motivate him. By this, he wants to influence her to have sexual intercourse with Troilus. He even lies to her that Troilus is angry with her because he heard rumors that she has been seen severally with a man called horaste. He tries to make her feel guilty of something she has not done. Later Troilus is on his knees begging for her love, she is so confused and thinks that’s Troilus is just so much obsessed with her that he does care he unfaithfulness. Her uncle convinces her that Troilus is the right man because he loves her, despite of what he has heard about her.
"One eare it heard, at the other out it went.”(bk IV, 1. 1,852) was among the proverbs quoted in the poem. Most of the proverbs used by Pandarus were in conversation between him and Troilus. In this case, Troilus is the one that used the proverb to confront Pandarus. Pandarus and Troilus were having an argument whereby Troilus believes that he would have succeeded in courting Criseyde by himself while Pandarus thinks the other way round. Troilus also said that the wise does succeeds always because he have seen a blind man walking safely and a man with good eyesight falling. This was not meant to insult Pandarus or disrespect him; it was a way of showing him that his experiences with him have enlightened him. Pandarus agrees to this by telling him that whetstone is not used for cutting yet it is used for sharpening objects that are used for cutting.
Pandarus does care the reaction and consequences of the lies to influence the courtship between her niece and the prince of Trojan. In this story, he serves as a protagonist and he is always between her niece and the Trojan prince. He is prepared to take he risk because his conscious convinces him that Troilus’s motives towards his niece are true. At some point Pandarus, advices Troilus using a proverb that he himself can not put in practice. Pandarus is an opportunist and tries hard to make sure that his niece has fallen in love with the Trojan prince. He goes ahead and makes sure that Troilus has made love to Criseyde although their relation does not last.
Even though, this poem has other characters, Pandarus, Troilus and Criseyde are the only character that builds the body of the entire poem. Chaucer has used to express the feeling and qualities of different people in the society. One of fascinating quality of Criseyde and Troilus is that their characters can be culled to a theme for each. Their characters have distinct importance although Pandarus is used to develop them. The poem displays how hard romance is struggling in coping with political actions.
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