Troilus and Cressida
Gender Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
A woman impudent and mannish grown Is not more loathed than an effeminate man In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this; (3.3.217-219)
This is where Patroclus complains that everyone blames him for Achilles refusing to come out of his tent and fight. And hello, gender roles! Men are expected to participate in combat; women are expected to be obedient to their men. When people step outside the gender roles that have prescribed for them, they become "loathed," social outcasts.
Is this the Lady Cressid?
Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady.
Our general doth salute you with a kiss.
Yet is the kindness but particular;
'Twere better she were kiss'd in general. (4.5.17-22)
After Cressida is traded to the Greek army, she's treated like a piece of meat. Here, the Greek commanders line up to greet her as she arrives at camp—they each kiss her, paw at her, and Ulysses even insults her. This is a far cry from what happens when Aeneas visits the camp. When he shows up with a message for the Trojan army, he's treated with respect and is given a hero's welcome in Act 1, scene 3.
Ah, poor our sex! this fault in us I find, The error of our eye directs our mind: (5.2.107-108)
Here, Cressida blames her bad behavior on the fact that she's a woman. In Shakespeare's day, a lot of men thought that women were born with a character flaw or moral weakness that made them incapable of being faithful. What's interesting about this particular passage is that the woman apparently believes she was born flawed. We like to call this "double consciousness."