Fortune In Troilus And Cressida Essay Research

7 July 2017

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Fortune In Troilus And Cressida Essay, Research Paper

Lady Fortune: Friend or Foe? The face of Fortune in Chaucer & # 8217 ; s Troilus and Criseyde.

Lady Fortune and her wheel are two of the most abiding symbols in world & # 8217 ; s history. Witness the popular game show, Wheel of Fortune. While it may look silly, it proves that something of this construct has stayed with in our mind, even today. The inquiry of luck is paramount is Chaucer & # 8217 ; s Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer gives the reader characters with wholly conflicting thoughts of Lady Fortune and her affect on their lives. By analyzing Boethius & # 8217 ; s Consolation of Philosophy, the reader can trust to happen an reply for these differing positions on luck. First, Boethius & # 8217 ; s influence on Chaucer and the character of Fortune that he presents must be examined. Once this is established as a benchmark, the reader can to the full understand the misconceptions Troilus has sing lucks. Troilus clings, as Boethius does in his Consolation of Philosophy, to the memory of his faithful service to Fortune. Finally, the character of Pandarus must be addressed. He, of all Chaucer & # 8217 ; s characters, has a steadfast clasp on the world of the Lady Fortune and her ever-changing nature. In fact, a close scrutiny of the text of Troilus and Criseyde will demo that Chaucer gives Pandarus a really similar function to that of Lady Philosophy in The Consolation of Philosophy.

Boethius & # 8217 ; s Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius & # 8217 ; s work trades with the cosmopolitan experience of agony. He finds himself imprisoned and under menace of executing. As Boethius begins to elaborate his sorrows and fault & # 8220 ; fickle Fortune & # 8221 ; ( p. 35 ) , he finds himself comforted by none other than Lady Philosophy. Their treatment is presented at length for the reader to go through judgement on. The subdivision peculiarly facing Boethius & # 8217 ; s misconceptions of Fortune and is of involvement to this statement is found chiefly in Book II. Lady Philosophy points out to Boethius precisely what the root of his job is at the beginning of this subdivision. & # 8220 ; You are blowing off in aching and hankering for your former good luck, & # 8221 ; she tells him ( p.54 ) . This is because he has forgotten the true nature of Fortune. Once he comes to an apprehension of Fortune and how she works as an instrument of God, he will be healed of his illness of depression.

Boethius so moves the conversation to a face to confront treatment with Fortune. B.L. Jefferson, in his book Chaucer and the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius, claims that & # 8220 ; Boethius was the first to visualise Fortune in this most personal manner & # 8221 ; ( p. 49 ) . Boethius & # 8217 ; s treatment about luck makes three different points. First, that alteration is the really nature of Fortune. This mutableness is pointed out by Lady Philosophy, & # 8220 ; Change is her normal behaviour, her true nature & # 8230 ; You have discovered the altering faces of the random goddess, & # 8221 ; she tells Boethius ( Consolation, p. 55 ) . No adult male can halt her wheel from turning ; it goes against Fortune & # 8217 ; s really nature to make so. She can turn her face off from a adult male every bit rapidly as she turns it to him. Jefferson characterizes the statement in this manner, & # 8220 ; Absolutely without understanding, [ Fortune ] cares no more for one adult male than another & # 8221 ; ( 50 ) .

Following comes the defence of Fortune by herself. Her statement is simple: I have merely taken back what was mine in the first topographic point. & # 8220 ; Inconstancy is my very kernel, & # 8221 ; she says, & # 8220 ; it is the game I ne’er cease to play as I turn my wheel in its of all time altering circle, filled with joy as I bring the top to the underside and the underside to the top. Yes, lift up on my wheel if you like, but don & # 8217 ; t number it an hurt when by the same item you begin to fall, as the regulations of the game will necessitate & # 8221 ; ( Consolation, p. 57 ) . Boethius has no evidences for his ailments because everything he has of all time had was given to him by Fortune. If she decides to take it back, it is her prerogative. This should non direct him to the cavities of desperation. & # 8220 ; Indeed, my really mutability gives you merely do to trust for better things, & # 8221 ; Fortune tells Boethius ( 58 ) . Merely as the wheel has borne him down, so can it bear him back up to better things.

Last, Lady Philosophy instructs Boethius in Fortune & # 8217 ; s deeper significance, as a retainer of God. Jefferson once more, & # 8220 ; Of a connexion with Providence, Fortune herself does non look to be cognizant, for she works blindly and wantonly. But behind her and regulating her, is the all-wise Capital of rhode island. Through the hardships of Fortune, Providence creates in work forces what we now call character & # 8230 ; . In Fortune [ Boethius ] saw the instrument of God & # 8221 ; ( 50 ) . This made what Boethius was making a really serious affair. It was all really nice to speak about the caprices of luck, but to bind it logically and straight to the Providence of God was a wholly different affair.

Boethius & # 8217 ; s Influence on Chaucer

It is from these points of statement with Fortune that we can see how Boethius influenced Chaucer, particularly in Troilus and Criseyde. Most of the literature on Troilus seems to back up this claim every bit good. & # 8220 ; The Boethian subject of Fortune dominates Troilus and Criseyde, and Chaucer even incorporates direct adoptions from the Consolation of Philosophy, & # 8221 ; says Martin Camargo ( 214 ) . Jefferson says that the Consolation had more influence on Troilus than on any other long verse form of Chaucer & # 8217 ; s ( 120 ) . It seems, nevertheless, that Chaucer did non merely utilize Boethius indiscriminately in this text. He really carefully cover with the same cardinal issues of Fortune and God & # 8217 ; s Providence that Boethius did in his Consolation.

That is why Pandarus sounds merely like Lady Philosophy when he speaks to Troilus in Book 1:

& # 8220 ; Than blaestow Fortune

For thow art wroth ; ye now at erst I see.

Woost thow nat wel that Fortune is comune

To everi manere wight in som grade?

And yet thow hast this comfort, lo, parde,

That, as hire joies moten overgon,

So mote hir sorwes passen everecho.

For if hire whiel stynte any thyng to torne,

Than cessed she Fortune anon to be.

Now, sith hire whiel by no may sojourne,

What woostow if hire mutabilite

Right as thyselven list wol Don by the,

Or that she be naught fer fro thyn helpynge?

Paraunter thow hast cause for to synge & # 8221 ; ( I.841-54 ) .

The same points of statement are reiterated here in Chaucer & # 8217 ; s ain words. Pandarus is stating the exact same things as Lady Philosophy & # 8217 ; s statement. Fortune is the same to every adult male. The joys she brings may go through away, but so will the sorrows. Her wheel can non halt. She would discontinue to be fortune. The reader can see the direct correlativity between Boethius & # 8217 ; s work and Pandarus & # 8217 ; s words.

Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde

Chaucer gives Pandarus a clear apprehension of Lady Fortune. It is his character who leads Troilus and instructs him, as Lady Fortune did Boethius. Camargo insists that it was of import for Chaucer that his readers see the correlativity between the gap of the Consolation and the gap of Troilus and Criseyde. & # 8220 ; Because it was of import to Chaucer that his readers recognize the analogies between Troilus and Boethius and Pandarus and Philosophy from the beginning, he took particular strivings in Book I to remember the Consolation & # 8217 ; s vivid opening scene & # 8221 ; ( Camargo, p. 215 ) . Merely as Lady Philosophy found Boethius under the sway of the Muses, so Chaucer begins this scene with Troilus singing entirely in his room. He besides comes to him and upbraids him for his confusion approximately Fortune as noted in the transition from Book I cited above. However, Pandarus is genuinely an self-seeker when it comes to Fortune. He tells Troilus and Criseyde to take the chance presented to them b

Y this love. “By turning Lady Philosophy’s lesson into a veiled carpe diem, Pandarus demonstrates his enthusiastic credence of the ephemeral gifts of Fortune, ” Joseph Salemi writes. Pandarus encourages Troilus by stating that Fortune must be smiling on him, and Tells Criseyde that this is an “good aventure” ( II.288 ) .

In Book IV, Pandarus once more advocates Troilus on Fortune. However, now Fortune has turned her face off from Troilus. He says:

& # 8220 ; Who woulde have wende that in so litel a throwe

Fortune oure joie wold Han overthrowe?

For in this universe ther is no animal,

As to my dom, that of all time saugh ruyne

Straunger than this, thorough Ca or aventure.

But who may al eschue, or al devyne?

Swich is this universe! Forthi I therefore diffyne:

Ne trust no wight to fynden in Fortune

Ay propertee ; engage yiftes ben comune & # 8221 ; ( IV.384-92 ) .

He grasps that the really nature of Fortune is to take what she has given. No 1 can understand her volatile nature, except to cognize that she changes. Pandarus goes on to state Troilus that he should seek a new love. Surely Fortune will smile on him in the signifier of a new dulcinea! This is genuinely a Boethian doctrine. As Fortune spins her wheel, finally the wheel will convey prosperity once more ( Consolation, II. Pr 1 ) .

Troilus has a wholly different position sing Fortune. He is much more like Boethius. & # 8220 ; He [ Troilus ] and Pandarus represent two every bit deformed positions of Fortune: that of the self-seeker and the determinist, & # 8221 ; says Joseph Salemi ( 219 ) . Jefferson besides agrees that Troilus is & # 8220 ; the sort of determinist that Boethius was in the Consolation & # 8230 ; in the function which he assumes for himself in contrast to his consoler, Dame Philosophy, the adult male who cries out against Fortune, who can non accommodate to his bad lucks & # 8221 ; ( 123 ) . So Chaucer has cast his Troilus in the function of Boethius. Troilus & # 8217 ; s inquiry at the beginning of his vocal in Book I does so repeat that of Boethius:

& # 8220 ; If no love is, O good, what fele I so?

And if love is, what thing and which is he?

If love be good, from whennes cometh my woo?

If it be wikke, a admiration thynketh me,

When every torture and adversite

That cometh of hym may to me savoury thinke,

For ay thurst I, the more that ich it drink & # 8221 ; ( I, 400-06 ) .

He is oppugning the very nature of Fortune and the events environing him. Boethius, while telling his ruin to Lady Philosophy, asks her & # 8220 ; where evil comes from if there is a God, and where good comes from if there isn & # 8217 ; t & # 8221 ; ( Consolation, I, Pr. 4 ) .

The job is that merely as Boethius is incorrect sing Fortune, so is Troilus. Take Troilus & # 8217 ; s plaint in Book IV as a clear illustration of this misconception sing Fortune and as a premier illustration of his fatalism:

& # 8220 ; Fortune, allas the piece!

What have I wear? What have I therefore agylt?

How myghtestow for routh me bygile?

Is ther no grace, and shal I therefore be spilt?

Shal therefore Criseyde awy, for that thow wilt?

Allas, how maistow in thyn herte fynde

To ben to me therefore cruwel and unkynde? & # 8221 ; ( IV, 260-266 ) .

When he continues, the true nature of his hurt is revealed. & # 8220 ; Have I the zero honoured al my lyve, /As thow wel woost, above the goddes alle? & # 8221 ; ( 267-68 ) . Troilus has devoted himself to the service of Fortune, but like Boethius, can non yet hold on her true nature. Chaucer uses this misconception to do even clearer that the true nature of Fortune is changeless alteration. Troilus & # 8217 ; s fatalism and misunderstanding of the favours of Fortune show up in crisp contrast to the self-interest and apprehension of Pandarus.

Troilus reacts with even greater ardor in Book IV when he thinks Criseyde has died. & # 8220 ; O cruel Jove and thow, Fortune adverse, & # 8221 ; he cries ( IV, 1192 ) . Salemi says that & # 8220 ; Troilus & # 8217 ; s frenetic desperation is a text book illustration, harmonizing to Boethian rules, of how non to respond to adverse Fortune & # 8221 ; ( 218 ) . Troilus has merely told the reader he had served Fortune all his life. How can he inquire Fortune to be something she is non? By naming her & # 8220 ; inauspicious & # 8221 ; Troilus clearly shows one time once more his misinterpretation. Fortune is neither inauspicious or good. She simply spins her wheel. As Pandarus points out, joy will certainly come once more if you merely wait for her wheel to turn once more.

Where does Criseyde fall in all of this? Is she representative of Fortune in Chaucer & # 8217 ; s work? Salemi seems to believe there are evidences for such an association, although he admits it would be hard to keep. He says that Pandarus & # 8217 ; s function & # 8220 ; as an adviser who tells Troilus about how to cover with a certain adult female reinforces the suggested affinity of Criseyde with Fortune & # 8221 ; ( 214 ) . The storyteller besides makes the association of Criseyde with Fortune in the Prologue to Book IV. The storyteller tells the reader that Fortune & # 8220 ; From Troilus she gan hire brighte face & # 8230 ; And on hire whiel she sette up Diomede & # 8221 ; ( IV, 8, 10 ) . What Fortune has done is precisely what Criseyde will make. While this is a plausible statement on the surface, Criseyde does non look so much to function as Fortune but to understand her better than most. She has a steadfast appreciation on the faithlessness of Fortune. Indeed, when Chaucer introduces her, the reader is struck by the fact that she does non fault Fortune for her sorrows. She is widowed, abandoned by her male parent and has had to throw herself at the pess of another in order to salvage herself. Even in the terminal, she simply bewails & # 8220 ; the resentment of worldly joys & # 8221 ; ( Jefferson, 126 ) . She knows they can non convey felicity. And what is billed as her falseness to Troilus in Book V simply shows the credence of the manus she has been dealt by Fortune. The storyteller says in Book V,

& # 8220 ; Retornying in hire soule ay up and down

The wordes of this sodeyn Diomede,

His grete estat, and perel of the town,

And that she was allone and hadde nede

Of frendes help ; and therefore bygan to brede

The cause whi, the sothe for to state,

That she took to the full purpos for to dwelle & # 8221 ; ( V, 1023-29 )

While it may hold been Fortune & # 8217 ; s making that Criseyde is apart from Troilus, she understands at one time the gravitation of the state of affairs she is in and takes stairss to rectify it. This shows that she understand that the universe is inconstant.

The subject of Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde springs right from the pages of Boethius & # 8217 ; s Consolation of Philosophy. This text evidently influenced Chaucer greatly. He drew from it often, about projecting his characters in Troilus and Criseyde into the functions in the Consolation of Philosophy. The consequence is powerful and traveling for the reader. Chaucer & # 8217 ; s audience could work through the same issues presented in the Consolation and see how the are dealt with in a authoritative narrative. And even today, modern readers can pull the same decisions from this dateless narrative of love and luck.


Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. V.E. Watts. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books. 1969.

Camargo, Martin. & # 8220 ; The Consolation of Pandarus. & # 8221 ; Chaucer Review Vol. 25 No. 3 ( 1991 ) P. 214-28.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Troilus and Criseyde. Ed. Larry Benson The Riverside Chaucer.. Boston: The Houghton Mifflin Company. 1987. P. 471-585.

Jefferson, B.J. Chaucer and the Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius. New York: Haskell House. 1965.

Salemi, Joseph S. & # 8220 ; Playful Fortune and Chaucer & # 8217 ; s Criseyde. & # 8221 ; Chaucer Review Vol. 13 No. 3 ( 1979 ) . P. 285-307



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