Troilus and Cressida
Gender Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
How now, Prince Troilus! wherefore not afield?
Because not there: this woman's answer sorts,
For womanish it is to be from thence. (1.1.104-106)
This isn't the first time we hear Troilus say that falling in love has made him a girly wimp. Here, he says that he's "womanish" for not being out on the battlefield. A few lines earlier, he confesses that he doesn't want to fight in the war because he's so in love with Cressida and declares "I am weaker than a woman's tear" (1.1.9). The idea that participating in warfare makes one a "man" and that falling in love makes one effeminate is something that shows up all over this play.
The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehead of our host, Having his ear full of his airy frame, grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus Upon a lazy bed the livelong day (1.3.142-147)
There's a lot of pressure on men to engage in battle in this play. Even the "great Achilles" is accused of being effeminate when he refuses to leave his tent and fight in the Trojan War. Here, Ulysses claims that Achilles has become "dainty" because he hasn't seen combat lately and spends all his time hooking up with his lover.
If there be one among the fair'st of Greece That holds his honour higher than his ease, That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril, That knows his valour, and knows not his fear, That loves his mistress more than in confession, With truant vows to her own lips he loves, And dare avow her beauty and her worth In other arms than hers,—to him this challenge. Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks, Shall make it good, or do his best to do it, He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer, Than ever Greek did compass in his arms, And will to-morrow with his trumpet call Midway between your tents and walls of Troy, To rouse a Grecian that is true in love: (1.3.265-279)
When Hector issues a thrown down challenge to face a Greek soldier in man-to-man combat, he says the winner gets to go around bragging that his wife or girlfriend is hotter, smarter, and more faithful than any other girl around. Weird, right? What does male combat have to do with women? Could it be that they're just looking for an excuse to engage in a little naked wrestling with each other?