Troilus and Cressida
How we cite our quotes:
The Greeks are strong and skilful to their strength, Fierce to their skill and to their fierceness valiant; But I am weaker than a woman's tear, Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance, Less valiant than the virgin in the night And skilless as unpracticed infancy. (1.1.7-12)
If this were an opera—oh look, it is—Troilus would totally be the tenor, the wimpy guy who can't stop talking about love. And he knows it. He associates love with effeminacy and warfare with masculinity. Here, he says the Greeks are "strong," "fierce," and "valiant" because they're willing to fight. He, on the other hand, feels like he's "weaker than a woman's tear" because he's too preoccupied with his desire for Cressida to fight in the Trojan War. In other words, Troilus thinks love turns men into wimps, which is something we hear from a lot of Shakespearean characters. (Go talk to Romeo or Hotspur if you don't believe us.)
I tell thee I am mad In Cressid's love; thou answer'st she is fair, Pourest in the open ulcer of my heart Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice, [...] Thou lay'st every gash that love hath given me The knife that made it. (1.1.51-63)
Can you hear us rolling our eyes? At this point in the play, Troilus sounds like a typical "Petrarchan lover," moping around and around sighing dramatically about fact that his crush doesn't know he exists. This kind of guy also spends a lot of time talking about his lady's individual body parts (eyes, hair, cheeks, lips, breasts, and so on). Plus, he usually runs around declaring that his love is totally killing him. Sound like Troilus? We think so. This was sort of a cliché by Shakespeare's time, so Troilus is meant to sound a little dramatic and silly. One more thing, Shmoopers. We also want to point out how all this talk about the "open ulcer" of Troilus's heart anticipates the play's emphasis on diseases—especially sexually transmitted diseases. Go to "Symbols" for more on this.
Let Paris bleed, 'tis but a scar to scorn; Paris gor'd with Menelaus' horn. (1.1.111-112)
We can't get through a single Shakespeare play without a reference to cuckoldry (when a wife cheats on her husband). Also penises. When Troilus finds out that Menelaus wounded Paris in battle, he says that Paris was probably "gor'd" with a "horn." As we know, horns are a common symbol for cuckolded husbands. In other words, Troilus thinks Paris deserves what he gets for stealing another guy's wife. We should also point out that the image of Paris getting "gored" with Menelaus' "horn" is often read as a reference to rape.