free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

Another example is when Nestor provides a thrilling description of Hector wreaking havoc among the Greeks. ‘There is a thousand Hectors in the field;/Now here he fights on Galathe his horse /And here lacks work: anon he’s there afoot, /And there they fly, or die, like scaled sculls /Before the belching whale; then is he yonder, /And there the strawy Greeks, ripe for his edge, /Fall down before him like a mower’s swath. /Here, there, and everywhere, he leaves and takes, /Dexterity so obeying appetite /That what he will he does, and does so much/That proof is call’d impossibility.’

Disease imagery occurs early in the play and runs right through from the ‘open ulcer’ of Troilus’ heart in the opening scene to Pandarus’ sickly complaint about his aching bones in the epilogue which concludes with the word ‘diseases.’ Disease imagery reaches its apogee in Thersites’ denunciation of Patroclus. ‘Now the rotten diseases of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs, loads o’ gravel i’th’back, lethargies, cold palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, whissing lungs, bladders full of impostume, sciaticas, lime-kilns i’th’palm, incurable bone-ache, and the rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take again such preposterous discoveries!’

Body references and imagery abounds ranging from the metaphorical dismemberment of Cressida by Troilus - ‘Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice,’ and the desired division of Ajax by Hector through to the literal mutilation of the Myrmidons. ‘That noseless, handless, hack’d and chipp’d gang who run to Achilles for help.


Animal imagery is also pervasive. Especially in the case of the physical giants of Greece, Ajax and Achilles who are used like ‘draught -oxen’ to ‘plough up the wars.’ Alexander likens Ajax to the lion, the bear and the elephant, Ulysses describes him as a ‘horse.’ Pandarus dismisses Achilles as a camel. Ajax and Achilles are described as curs by Thersites, Troilus as an ass, and Ulysses as a ‘dog-fox’ while Nestor is depicted as a ‘mouse-eaten dry cheese.’ But animal references are not limited to abuse. As the retreat is sounded after the death of Hector, Achilles’ comment: ‘The dragon wing of night o’er-spreads the earth,’ provides a powerful image of darkness descending on the battlefield while at the same time, presaging the long night that will culminate in the destruction of Troy.

The imagery of trade and commerce is also used frequently. Take Troilus’ description of Helen: ‘Is she worth keeping? Why, she is a pearl/Whose price hath launch’d above a thousand ships/And turn’d crown’d kings to merchants.’

References to trade depict it as an activity in which men behave deviously. As Ulysses comments to Nestor in advocating the choice of Ajax over Achilles as Hector’s opponent.

‘Let us like merchants/First show foul wares, and think perchance they’ll sell: If not, /The luster of the better shall exceed/By showing the worse first.’ Cressida becomes an item of merchandise, as Calchas says that the Trojan prisoner Antenor can be used to ‘buy’ his daughter. When Diomed had delivered his devastating assessment of Helen to Paris the latter responds ‘Fair Diomed, you do as chapmen do, /Dispraise the thing that they desire to buy; /But we in silence hold this virtue well, /We’ll not commend, that not intend to sell.’ Thus the imagery of trade is used to reinforce that this is really a world of market transactions and not one of high-principled conflict.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright © PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:53:41 AM