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Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrative poem

Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrative poem - Dylan...

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Dylan Douglas Professor Klein Chaucer 12/8/09 A Reconsidered Pity Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrative poem, Troilus and Criseyde, is a satirical romance set in the 1380’s. It is the story of the titled characters and their relationship as it progressively alternates between happiness and turmoil. Although a simple reading may coerce the reader into pitying Troilus at the end, the story’s complications and ambiguities provide a response of ambivalence. The narrator in the text repeatedly blames Fortune for the many woes in this five-part tale, but there are indications that the tragedy at the end is caused by other factors. Through the language and thoughts of the characters and themes such as sovereignty and reliance on others, this paper interprets the ending differently. Courtly love is a salient function in the featured relationship but it is not straightforwardly depicted as can be seen in other romantic literature. On the contrary, this is a Chaucerian take on romance; Troilus’ means of acquiring the fidelity and love of his maiden Criseyde is not entirely by a means of servitude, but by utilizing deception, lies and most importantly, guilt. Though Troilus’ methods stand paramount, all the characters assume roles in what becomes a web of guilt by assigning or possessing that said guilt to and with each other, as this paper will discuss. This factor combines with explaining an alternative interpretation of the tale, for a relation between Fortune and the effects of guilt is made explicit. In short, the real intent that Troilus has for Criseyde is not necessarily consistent with his knightly status. Through this thought-process, blame and misconduct are rightfully up for reconsideration. At the first sight of Criseyde, Troilus is captivated by her appearance. He cast his gaze “through a crowd and it hit upon Criseyde, and there it stopped (Chaucer, 7). This is a customary detail in any romance, and she is the most attractive woman in all of Troy, but it also initiates the trend for his cosmetic love for her. He is mainly concerned with his maiden’s looks and not her personality or character. There is great emphasis put on the pathetic and suicidal way Troilus feels whenever he is threatened with the possibility of not being able to possess, keep, or lose Criseyde. In turn, this pattern makes it clear that in many ways she is an object to him. She is like a security blanket and near the end
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of book four, when he first hears that Criseyde must move to Greece, he wonders what will happen to himself “if he loses what he has bought so dearly!” (95). His emotional outbursts make it clear that he has objectified her and that he feels entitled to continuing his sovereignty over her. Through this distinction it is also made clear that, like anyone in possession of an object, Troilus does not care about or even consider his object’s feelings.
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Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrative poem - Dylan...

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