Troilus and Cressida | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Troilus and Cressida | Act 3, Scene 1 | Summary



Pandarus meets with Paris at Troilus's behest. Troilus wants Paris to offer an excuse for his missing dinner with their father, King Priam, that night. Paris suspects Troilus will be with Cressida that evening, but Pandarus denies that is the case. Although he doesn't believe him, Paris agrees to the ruse. Pandarus agrees to Helen's request for a song, and sings about love.


Pandarus continues his work as go-between for Troilus and Cressida, this time helping Troilus arrange his assignation with Cressida so his family is none the wiser. It is telling that he approaches Paris rather than someone like Hector. Again, if Hector is to continue being the most honorable, he cannot lie to his father so that his younger brother can spend the night with a traitor's daughter. Paris, though, does not have to be honorable—he already squandered that when he stole Menelaus's wife while a guest in his house.

Again the tone of the play turns back to comedy, a break from the stories of epic heroes and tragic love. Pandarus's attempts to stymie Helen from listening in on a private conversation, as well as her continued requests for him to sing, are humorous. The shifting in tone and structure continues to make this play difficult to classify.

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