Thursday, August 9, 2018

Troilus and Cressida (The Pelican Shakespeare) Paperback – November 14, 2017 by William Shakespeare (Author), Jonathan Crewe (Editor, Introduction), Stephen Orgel (Series Editor), A. R. Braunmuller (Series Editor) (Penguin Classics)

The play is somewhat misnamed. While the story of Troilus and Cressida is central to much of the plot, the last days of the Grecian attack on Troy is also central. Naming this play as the problems of the lovers is a good deal misleading. It's sort of like two separate plots intermixed uncomfortably. The love story is a sad one. Troilus and Cressida, Troyans, love each other and her uncle aids them in consummating their love, even though they are unable to wed. In the meantime Diomedes, a Greek, has fallen in love with the beautiful Cressida and a trade is arranged to return a captured Troyan to Troy in exchange for Cressida marrying the Greek. Troilus is led to where he can listen in where Cressida finally agrees to become the lover of Diomedes. However, at the same time there is a battle brewing in this 7 year siege by the Greeks, and in the latter part of the play the boasting and plotting of the warriors takes center place. The curious inter-mix of these two central plots seemed to me to give the play a serious lack of focus and centrality. It was interesting to read, but not one of the better written plays. I did especially enjoy Hector's lines to Paris and Troilus and their boasting war-like talk

"Paris and Troilus, you have both said well;
And on the cause and question now in hand
Have glozed, but superficially; not much
Unlike the young men, whom Aristotle thought
Unfit to hear moral philosophy.”

Another passage that pleased me greatly was between Troilus and Cressida on the difference between loved professed and felt and the limit of love acted. This scene is a sort of preview of what does in fact happen later in the play.

“Troilus. Nothing but our undertakings when we vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers, thinking it harder for our mistress to devise imposition enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed. This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite and the execution confined; that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.

Cressida. They say all lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform, vowing more than the perfection of ten and discha

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