Troilus And Criseyde By Chaucer

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Troilus And Criseyde By Chaucer

Chaucers epic poem, Troilus and Criseyde, is not a new tale, but one Chaucer
merely expanded upon. One of these expansions that Chaucers work has become
renowned for is the improvement of the characters. Generally, Chaucers
characters have more texture, depth, humanity, and subtlety than those of the
previous tales. Of the three main figures in the epic poem, Troilus, Criseyde,
and Pandarus, Pandarus is the character that Chaucer took the most liberty with,
creating and evolving Pandarus until he had taken on an entirely different role.
However, this is not to say that Chaucer did not add his own style to Troilus
and Criseyde. Chaucers continual development of the primary characters
definitely lend more interest and humor to the epic poem, Troilus and Criseyde.
The most interesting character by far is Pandarus. He serves as the protagonist
and go between for Troilus and Criseyde. In fact, one could argue if it were not
for him, Troilus may never have attained the brief affections of his lady love,
Criseyde. When Pandarus comes across an uneasy Troilus and inquires as to the
cause of his trouble, his speech is very eloquent. It is this speech that gives
the reader his first glimpse of how subtlety and indirectness will initially
characterize Pandarus. Further along the passage, Pandarus torments Troilus into
anger, causing him to reveal the source of his woe. (Chaucer 24-5). In regard to
the introduction of Pandarus, Kirby concludes: "Chaucer makes us feel
that here is a witty, likable chap who does not take life too seriously and who
does not hesitate to mingle friendly works with good-natured taunts." (127)
Pandarus also reveals that he is fairly well educated with his allusion to Niobe.
In addition to the revelation of his education, this also reveals Pandarus
penchant for a pattern of persuasion which he employs throughout his role.
"Pandarus thinks the that way to make a man do something that he does not
want to do is not to tell him bluntly and baldly what course of action he should
pursue, but rather, gradually to lead up to the main point, expanding on the
notion in various ways and especially by quoting sufficient authority and
testimony to show his plan is the correct one, in fact, the only one
possible" (Kirby 133). This demonstrates that not only does Pandarus have a
classical education, but that he also maintains some grasp on the concept of
psychology. Aside from the intellectual side of Pandarus, Chaucer develops a
very human aspect to this character. Chaucer purposefully places Pandarus in the
role of the unrequited lover, making him seem less feeble-minded. At the same
time however, Pandarus reasserts his illogical reasoning in order to convince
Troilus to divulge his heart wrenching secret. Even after Troilus curt
dismissal, Pandarus continues to badger the beleaguered knight, demonstrating
yet another strong personality characteristic: tenacity. This is supported by
Pandarus physically shaking Troilus. "And with that word he gan hym for to
shake,/And seyde, "Thef/ thow shalt hyre name telle,/But tho gan sely
Troilus for to quake/As though men sholde han led hym into helle,"(Chaucer
36). Consequentially frightened, Troilus tells Pandarus of his love for
Criseyde, Pandarus niece and even goes so far as to agree to enlist
Pandarus help in bringing his nieces heart to the beleaguered knight. In
his dealings with his niece, issues of Pandarus morality comes into being,
especially as his roll of the go-between for Troilus and Criseyde. "The
word pander, where he has bequeathed the English language, illuminates the
negative connotations that are put on his actions in modern meaning"
(Berkley Research 3). In regard to Pandarus selling of Criseydes honor,
one scholar believes that his loose morals would be fitting for someone of
younger years, but on an older man, it would be a serious affront to his
morality (Rosetti 177). A slightly more favorable view holds that as Pandarus is
beholden to aide a friend, Chaucer uses the characters charm to influence
readers to view the act as less of crime. Finally, one can take the opinion that
Pandarus actions coincide perfectly with the ideas of Courtly love and
therefore are less odious (Kirby 181). However grim these opinions maybe,
Chaucer, and as a result, Pandarus, takes the bull by the figurative horns and
addresses the issue. Criseyde questions Pandarus after his declaration of
Troilus love by saying: "Alas, for wo! Why nere I deed?/For of the
world the feyth is al agoon./Allas! what sholden straunge to me doon,/When he,
that for my beste frend I wende,/Ret