02 May 2018
One Story, Two Tellings:
Chaucer and Shakespeare’s Approaches to Troilus and Cressida
Although Shakespeare and Chaucer both aim to tell the story of tragedy Troilus and Cressida, their approaches differ greatly. In Chaucer’s time period, romanticism was highly popular among poets; many over their stories were centered around themes of love. However, Shakespeare’s Elizabethan values influenced his version of Troilus and Cressida to turn out with a more cynical attitude than Chaucer's. Instead women being placed on a pedestal, they were implied to be property. Shakespeare’s works discussed far raunchier and controversial themes than those from the Romantic era, with an additional witty twist (Bradbook 311).
In Chaucer’s version of Troilus and Cressida, the main focus of the plot was centered around Troilus and Cressida’s tragic love story. Chaucer’s version of Troilus appears as an innocent young man who is struck by love for the beautiful Cressida. In this version of the story, Pandarus appears as a generally sympathetic and caring character. In this time period, women benefited from the concept of chivalry, and consequently held a better social status. Cressida is meek and obedient; she sends him letters and dreams about their love for each other. As Chaucer mainly aims to tell a Romantic love story, a passive and blushing woman would be more appropriate for the beginning of a new romance, and Shakespeare’s Cressida’s independent and self-confident character would have be a turn-off for a potential love interest, and would have complicated the storyline.
Conversely, Shakespeare’s war-torn and historical retelling of Troilus and Cressida “took a high and heroic romance” and “in every...