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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Ulysses does not make a direct reply. His speech is apparently intended to stir the Greek leaders to action by moving their passion and any more specific answer would have come later, but the entry of Aeneas relieves him of the necessity. Ulysses says that the great Achilles who has been crowned by opinion as the strength of the Greek side, its strongest member, and whose ears were so full of his insubstantial fame, had grown full of himself and mocked their plans as he lay in his tent. With him is Patroclus and together they lie upon a lazy bed, making scurrilous jokes accompanied by Patroclus’ ridiculous and awkward imitations of the Greek leaders. Sometimes, he puts on the high office of Agamemnon, and mimicking him, makes him out to be a swaggering player, whose wits are in his thighs and who thinks it is splendid to hear the sound of his step between the stage and the scaffolding.

Ulysses says that Patroclus plays the General as someone who is strained and to be pitied. He then adds that when Patroclus speaks, it is harsh and full of unsuitable terms, like the sound of the filing of a whole chime of bells. If it had been dropped from the tongue of roaring Typhoon - a monster representing the earthquake and the volcano and hence capable of deafening sounds - would seem like hyperboles. At this stage, Ulysses says that Achilles, who has been lolling on his bed, laughs out his loud applause and cries ‘Excellent! ’Tis Agamemnon precisely!.’ He then asks Patroclus to ‘play Nestor for me’, ‘to cough nervously and interject and stroke your beard, as he does when he prepares to make an oration.’


Ulysses goes on with his description of what happens in Achilles tent. He says that after all this, and though the imitations is as apt as the similarity between Vulcan who is represented as being deformed, and his wife Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Achilles still cries: ‘Excellent! It’s Nestor exactly: now play him arming to respond to a night alarm.’ And then, the defects of age and feebleness become the spectacle of mirth. Patroclus coughs and spits, fumbles with palsy and shakes the rivet as he handles the armor for his throat.

At this point, Achilles, whom Ulysses refers to ironically as Sir Valor, almost dies with mirth, and cries: ‘O enough, Patroclus, or give me ribs of steel: I shall split all in pleasure of my spleen.’ Ulysses says that in this way everything that the Greek leadership did - their abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, achievements, lots, orders, defensive measures, exhortations to the field or speech calling for truce, those pertaining to their success or loss, serves as raw material for the ridicule of Achilles and Patroclus.

Nestor says that many others have been infected by the attitude of these two. Ajax has grown self-willed and as proud as Achilles; keeps to his tent just like he does; holds noisy feasts; and as boldly as an oracle, rails at our state of preparedness for War. Hesets Thersites - an abject wretch, a man of no moral sensibility or feeling, whose bitterness and rancor slanders us with impunity.

Ulysses says that Ajax and Thersites censure the sagacity and prudence of the Greek leadership and call it cowardice. They do not count wisdom as a part of the state of preparedness for War, they hinder foresight and hold no action in high esteem but that of the hand or physical action. For them, Intelligence operations have no dignity - they call it work that could be done while reclining or lying down, mere map reading and sketching, a closet-War. They consider the battering ram - because of its great impetus and forcible motion, and the roughness of its heavy blow, greater than the man who made it. In other words, they do not think very highly of those who guide the action because of their intellectual superiority. Nestor agrees with Ulysses and says that Achilles’ example is creating many more like him. A tucket or a trumpet signal to the cavalry to advance is heard.

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