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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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When Troilus asks her why she was so hard to get, she says she was ‘Hard to seem won’ and then adds that if she confesses too much he ‘will play the tyrant.’ She says that she had often ‘wish’d myself a man, /Or that we women had men’s privilege/Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue/ For, in this rapture I shall surely speak/The thing I shall repent... She pleads with herself to ‘Stop my mouth’ at which point Troilus kisses her. Cressida says that she hadn’t intended to beg a kiss, and in her growing confusion, attempts to flee the scene.

Troilus wonders what offends her and she says it is ‘‘mine own company’’ Her later lines show that she is already divided within herself. Hers is a moral and intellectual confusion. She desires Troilus, and yet wishes still to keep the tactical advantage of uncertainty. ‘I have a kind self resides with you, /But an unkind self, that itself will leave/To be another’s fool. I would be gone: Where is my wit? I know not what I speak.’ Here, she is questioning her good sense, for being uncertain, and makes incoherent speech her reason for going.


Troilus exclaims that he presumes she is like the perfect woman who would keep her fidelity young. Despite the aging of her youthful beauty, her body might eventually destroy itself, but her mind would maintain its constancy. Troilus ends with a profession of simple faith. Later he goes on to say that ‘True swains in love shall, in the world to come, /Approve their truth by Troilus.’ These passages sound prophetic. The assertion of Troilus and Cressida is meant to be balanced. Troilus says that ‘yet, after all comparisons of truth, /As truth’s authentic author to be cited, /‘As true as Troilus’ shall crown up the verse/ And sanctify the numbers.’ Troilus is the very soul of truth, and hence any reference to the truth of Troilus is like the appeal to an authoritative work.

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