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Troilus and Cressida Theme of Love

If Troilus and Cressida had a 21st century theme song it would probably be "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place." (Forget about the disturbing music video and the whole Rihanna / Chris Brown scandal for a minute and hear us out.) Troilus and Cressida is a story about how two people manage to fall in love under horrendous circumstances. When Troilus and Cressida fall for each other during the seventh year of a horrible, drawn-out war, they manage to carve out a little world for themselves where the ugliness of politics and warfare can't reach them. Sounds romantic, right? Well, it is... for about 2 seconds. Inevitably, the ugliness of politics and warfare creeps in and tears our couple apart, making this one of Shakespeare's most cynical plays about love. Come to think of it, Shmooperinos, the play sort of suggests that love can't possibly exist in such an ugly world and that romantic relationships boil down to one thing: sex. Like, check out all those references to sexually transmitted diseases. All the play's talk about syphilis and dirty jokes really harsh our couple's mellow. Not sounding quite so romantic now, is it?

Questions About Love

  1. What is Pandarus's role in Troilus and Cressida's relationship? Would they ever have gotten together without his help?
  2. How does the play draw our attention to the relationship between love and conflict?
  3. Do you think Troilus and Cressida ever really loved each other? What does love even mean in this play? Do we see any people who seem to love each other?
  4. How is Troilus like a typical "Petrarchan lover"? Does he have any other function in the play except being a whiny dreamboat?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Troilus doesn't really "love" Cressida. His desire for her is more sexual appetite than anything else, which totally explains why he's always comparing her to food.

Cressida's willingness to cheat on Troilus 2.5 seconds after she promises not to shows us that she's a very good actress who knows how to act like a woman in love.

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