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Troilus and Cressida

Troilus and Cressida


by William Shakespeare

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy

Anticipation Stage

As Troilus salivates over Cressida, he can't stop thinking about how A-MA-ZING a steamy hook-up would be. The first time we meet him, the guy tells us he's so eager to be with her that he's completely disinterested in participating in the Trojan War (1.1). Yep, this is definitely anticipation.

Dream Stage

When Troilus finally hooks up with Cressida, he thinks he's the luckiest guy alive. But this doesn't last very long because Troilus basically gets only one night of bliss with Cressida. (Oh, and Achilles's little dream stage with Patroclus is about to come to a screeching halt, too.)

Frustration Stage

Like we just said, Troilus only gets to be with Cressida for one night. That's because her dad convinces the Greeks to trade her for a Trojan prisoner, which means Cressida has to leave Troy and Troilus behind. Frustrating for Troilus? You bet. For Cressida? Well, apparently not so much.

Also frustrated at this point are Ulysses and the other Greek leaders, who are seriously trying to get Achilles onto the battlefield again.

Nightmare Stage

When Troilus heads over to the Greek camp to spy on his "fair Cressid," he sees her flirting with a dude named Diomedes. Before we know it, Cressida is agreeing to sleep with this new guy and even gives him a love token that Troilus had given her the night before. This is a nightmare for our boy Troilus, all right. Also a nightmare? Hector killing Patroclus. At least if you're Achilles.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Okay. We can definitely see how Troilus goes through a "death wish" stage. His world is rocked so hard by Cressida's betrayal that he vows to kill Diomedes the next day in battle. The problem is that when Troilus and Diomedes do square off, nothing really happens and neither one of them is killed. (Can you say anti-climax?)

That's why a lot of literary critics say this isn't a true Shakespearean tragedy, because our hero Troilus doesn't die. Instead, Shakespeare gives his audience the blood and guts they've been waiting for by killing off Hector, the great Trojan warrior who gets slaughtered by Achilles. This seems to forecast the fall of Troy in general, and, since we're kind of Hector fanboys-and-girls, it's a little tragic for us, too.

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