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Troilus and Cressida

Cressida’s lover is Troilus, when they unite as lovers she makes a promise to him that she will not be false to him. She says if she is false then let people use her name as a way of to call people false: Yea, let the say, to stick the heart of falsehood ‘As false as Cressid’ However, this promise is later broken when she is taken when she is taken into the Greek camp. Like Gertrude it does not take her long to transform and forget her love and the promise she made.

She greets the Greek generals who each kiss her in turn. It seem as though she ‘is excited by the attention and has a light, quick answer for each.

‘It is Ulysses’ idea that everyone should kiss her. After the kisses are accepted and there is no complaint about them Ulysses calls her a loose, unvirtuous woman: Fie, fie upon her: There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip; Nay her foot speaks.

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Her wanton spirits look out At every joint and motive in her body Due to Cressida’s broken promise ‘Troilus struggles to separate condemnation of Cressida from the traducing of women in general. ‘ This is similar to the way Hamlet condemns women. Troilus struggle with his condemnation is when he says: Let it not be believed for womanhood Think: we had mothers.

Do not give advantage To stubborn critics, apt without a theme, For deprivation to square the general sex By Cressida’s rule Cressida’s fall to Diomedes a short while after her pledge to Troilus links to the attitude from Hamlet that women are frail.

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‘If frailty is endemic to the sex, the individual woman feels less responsibility for her own weakness. ‘ This idea seems to be apparent in Troilus and Cressida. A fitting example of this in the play would be when Cressida gives in to Diomedes, she sighs and says: Ah, poor our sex! This fault in us I find The error of out eye directs our mind

Cressida welcomes this ‘satirists judgment of women’ because she can use it as an excuse and therefore feel less guilt. By having this perception it blinds her to the good in other women by generalizing all women to be like her. As in Hamlet chastity is a big issue that is concerned with women. Basically if you slept with a man and were unchaste it would cheapen you as a woman. It was a way of society during that time and women did not really have any alternative but to try and follow. ‘For women like Cressida the forms of chaste behavior usurp the fact. They follow the rules meticulously because they cannot afford not to’

In Troilus and Cressida, Cressida is taken to the Greek camp as an exchange for a Trojan hero. She has no alternative but to go to the camp. This shows a male dominance and the inequality of the genders. This inequality can be highlighted further when Cressida says: And yet, good faith, wished myself a man, Or that we women had men’s privilege Of speaking first Here we are able to see the inferiority of women as men have what is described here as a privilege. In conclusion yet again the attitudes towards women are that they are weak. One of the ways this weakness is shown is by the women giving in so easily.

We also see that women are seen as inferior to men. This was seen as normal at the time: That women occupied a position subordinate to men in the early modern period is beyond dispute: that this was the “natural’ state of affairs was almost beyond dispute.  This shows that it was almost like an unwritten rule that men are superior and women inferior. Shakespeare’s As You Like It is a complicated play in the context of women. When Rosalind is banished from the kingdom by Duke Frederick, her uncle, Rosalind and Celia decide to go to the forest to seek Rosalind’s father. They realize the danger of traveling through the forest as young women:

Alas, what danger will it be to us (Maids as we are) to travel so forth so far? Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold To overcome this problem Rosalind decides to disguise herself as a man. This is to protect the women. Here there is a double meaning of protection. Rosalind is protecting herself in two ways be dressing up as a man. Firstly if a male is present there is less danger to a woman. She is also protecting herself by attire because women did not wear underclothes. Therefore she is protecting herself, physically and socially. The fact that they need a male presence for protection shows the weakness of women.

Women were not seen on the same level as men. They seem to be ‘permanently providing light relief to serious men. ‘ This is apparent due to the way Shakespeare aligns women with professional fools. Examples of this kind of alignment are Viola and Feste in Twelfth Night, Cordelia and the fool in King Lear and Celia and Touchstone in As You Like It Celia’s father Duke Frederick refers to Celia as a fool in Act one, Scene three, line seventy when she takes her cousin’s side. ‘Thou art a fool: she robs thee of thy name’ Then again in line seventy-seven ‘You are a fool.

’39 This reference alongside the alignment of women with Fools shows that: The values of women and Fools are an irritant to men: their function is to entertain, not to censure; but as critics they are not dangerous because they have no power.  This shows the lack of power women have and their inferiority to men. Women and fools can be seen as similar because ‘Both stand on the periphery of the serious world of men, assessing its wisdom from the perspective of not being of any account. ’41 This further highlights the attitudes towards women that they are inferior and not of any serious use.

Women are never men’s equals. Their inferiority and lack of freedom shows their inequality next to men. Therefore society would rather class them with boys rather than men. This is shown when Rosalind disguised as Ganymede gives Ganymede’s view: And for no passion truly anything, Boys and women are for the most part cattle of this colour Rosalind as a female character is aware of the inequality of men and women in society. She is aware of female inferiority. Rosalind disguised as Ganymede loves the freedom that comes along with pretending to be a man.

As she’s in fact a woman she is enjoying not being a woman: I thank god I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as he hath generally taxed their whole sex withal.  Finally in As You Like It the epilogue is delivered by Rosalind. This is unusual and is noted by Rosalind herself: ‘It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue’ This task is usually delivered by a male character. Although this time it is given by Rosalind, the fact that it is noted by Rosalind as unusual shows that women are not seen as important enough to deliver the epilogue.

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Troilus and Cressida. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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