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Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida
by William Shakespeare
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Food

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

This one's a freebie, Shmoopers. Food = sex. Every time we turn around someone is comparing sex to food. King Priam says that lusty Paris is all about enjoying Helen's "honey" (2.2.144) and Pandarus compares Troilus's desire for Cressida to baking and eating a cake (1.1.14-26).

Even Troilus uses a food metaphor when he tells us that he can't wait to hook up with Cressida. He says the girl's got him salivating because he's always thinking about what it will finally be like to "taste" her sweet "nectar" (3.2.21-22). Okay. We get it Shakespeare. Guys like Troilus and Paris have got big sexual appetites. So what?

Well, eventually, all this sexy food talk turns into something pretty disgusting. Check out what Troilus says when he finds out Cressida's a cheater:

The [...] orts [scraps] of her love,
The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics
Of her o'er-eaten faith, are given to Diomed.
(5.2.158-160)

Translation: Troilus thinks Cressida's love is like "bits of greasy" food that's been eaten and then puked back up. Or, to put it as crudely as Shakespeare does, Troilus is saying that Diomedes is getting his "sloppy seconds."

Um. Gross. Why is Shakespeare trying to make us sick with all this food talk gone wrong? Well, it seems like there's a point being made about the folly of Troilus' feelings for Cressida. When he talks about her as though she's a delicious slice of this, that, or the other thing, it's pretty obvious that his so-called "love" for her is nothing more than sexual desire. He doesn't actually see her as a person—she's just something to be consumed.

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