The Relationship Between Troilus And Criseyde

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The relationship between Troilus and Criseyde in Geoffrey Chaucer’s adaptation of their tragic love story notably hinges on the perception of Troilus’s “manhod.” The interpretation of Troilus as a “feminized” male character, and the consequent view that he was not manly enough to keep Criseyde as his lover, exemplifies the importance Chaucer places on gender roles in the poem. Troilus’s passive nature, as a result of his “lovesickness,” led to his failure to obey the normative masculine patterns of behavior. His lack of action is ultimately the reason why his relationship with Criseyde fails. While we know the tragic ending to their story is inevitable, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde presents gender as a central cause for its ending. In the first portrait of Troilus, Chaucer presents us with a manly young knight at ease with his respectable and authoritative position:
This Troilus, as he was wont to gide
His yonge knyghtes, lad hem up and down
In thilke large temple on every side,
Beholding ay the ladies of the town,
Now here, now there; for no devocioun
Hadde he to non, to reven hym his reste,
But gan to preise and lakken whom hym leste (I. 183-189)
Troilus is represented here as a strong leader. He guides the knights through the temple and gazes at the ladies of the town as he pleases. He mocks the other knights who foolishly fall in love; Troilus is above that type of behavior. After the God of Love shoots him with his arrow, Troilus becomes smitten with Criseyde in one
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