Over these last few days, I’ve been talking quite a bit about the misogyny I’ve been finding in Troilus and Cressida. First, I began with the most general of references, then I took a (first, early) look at our title female, Cressida, a bawdy babe before she becomes the false femme of renown (or infamy), then I focused on the woman at the heart of the war that frames our play, Helen, and a couple of days ago, I returned to Cressida, as she began (or continued) her fall from not-quite-grace. Today, let’s finish that tumble.
This week’s podcast continues our two month-long discussion of Troilus and Cressida with a discussion of misogyny in the play. Plus, a happier subject: a review of Independent Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet.
Over these last few (and next couple of) days, I’m been talking more than a little about the misogyny I’ve been finding in Troilus and Cressida. First, I began with the most general of references, then I took a (first, early) look at our title female, Cressida, a bawdy babe before she becomes the false femme of renown (or infamy), and yesterday, I focused on the woman at the heart of the war that frames our play: Helen. Today, we play a little ping-pong, and I return to our titular (love that word) female lover, Cressida.
Over these last few (and next few) days, I’m discussing the misogyny I’ve been finding in Troilus and Cressida. First, I began with the most general of references, and yesterday, I took a (first, early) look at our title female, Cressida, a bawdy babe before she becomes the false femme of history. Today, let’s take a gander at the woman at the heart of the war that frames our play: Helen.
Even before we meet her, we hear her worth and value debated by King Priam and his sons (including her kidnapper Paris). As noted in my first blog entry in this series, all this “worth”y talk points more to the possession and objectification of members of the gender.
And for Helen, it’s about to get worse…
This week, I’m writing about a concept that’s been nagging at me in Troilus and Cressida: Misogyny. Yesterday, I talked a little general-purpose woman-hating; today, I’m getting specific: Cressida. If women can be reduced to types as I said yesterday, then Cressida will become what she predicts: “as false as Cressid” (III.ii.191). However, one can’t be false from the beginning; it must be a reaction to, a refutation of, some truth.
Sometimes when you read a play, especially without having seen it or heard it before, something hits you, sticks in your brain… you just get a vibe. It might not be real, it’s a… well, a feeling. And like all feelings, while it might be based on evidence in the text, it might not be a legitimate conclusion. But it would be a shame not to dive a little deeper into it, right? Well, such is the case of Troilus and Cressida, and the second biggest vibe I got from it (beyond the cynicism I’ve been writing about for much of the last month): Misogyny.
Hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women.
- “misogyny, n.” Oxford English Dictionary Online.
Oxford University Press, June 2015.
Web. 11 July 2015.
A word, by the way, that didn’t even exist in Shakespeare’s day. The word may not have existed, but that vibe sure did.
The character of Achilles is problematic. His refusal to fight is key in both Homer’s The Iliad and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. But why does he refuse?
Yesterday, I noted how long-time readers of the blog know my love of digging through the scansion of the lines for acting clues and the dialogue for hidden stage directions, starting off with the former in Troilus and Cressida. Today, let’s hit the latter and check out our dialogue-based stage directions.
OK, so regular readers know that I love to dig through the text looking for acting clues in the scansion (as well as stage direction in the dialogue, but that, alas, is for another day… like tomorrow). And Troilus and Cressida is no different. Except that it is.
Yesterday, I began to voice my befuddlement over the somewhat inconsistent use of florid language in Troilus and Cressida. I’m afraid I wasn’t tremendously clear (if at all) as to what I meant. So, being the numbers guy that I am, I did a little digging using a website that allows one to calculate the relative reading grade levels of passages (Readability-Score.com).
Here’s what I found (with the main characters):