TROILUS AND CRISEYDE--STRUCTURE AND GENRE  

[Cross-references included at the bottom of the page]

 

723. ADAMSON, JANE. "The Unity of Troilus and Criseyde." Critical Review 14 (1971):17-37.

Reads Troilus and Criseyde as a sensitive representation of the contradictions of human life. Criseyde manifests an intense but inactive self-consciousness and Troilus tries to conceptualize his vital feelings. Through them, Chaucer represents humanity's impossible desire to experience and understand simultaneously.

724. BESSENT, BENJAMIN R. "The Puzzling Chronology of Chaucer's Troilus." Studia Neophilologica 41 (1969):99-111.

Clarifies the precise chronology of Troilus and Criseyde, evident through temporal and astrological references in the poem, and suggests that Chaucer used chronology primarily to present Criseyde favorably.

725. BRENNER, GERRY. "Narrative Structure in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." Annuale Mediaevale 6 (1965):5-18. Revised slightly in Chaucer's "Troilus": Essays in Criticism, ed. by Stephen A. Barney (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1980), pp. 131-44.

Surveys discussions of the structure of Troilus and Criseyde and argues that Chaucer yokes a symmetrical structure, a "metaphor of harmony and order," to an ironic structure of disordering inversions, wrenched foreshadowings, and multiple points of view. The combination parallels the other "unresolvable antinomies" of the poem, e.g., fate and free will, Christian and pagan, tragic and comic, poetic convention and human reality, etc.

726. CLOUGH, ANDREA. "Medieval Tragedy and the Genre of Troilus and Criseyde." Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 11 (1982):211-27.

As a "romance tragedy," Troilus and Crisyde marks an important stage in the development between medieval de casibus tragedy and Elizabethan tragedy. Emotional, philosophical, and psychological, Chaucer's poem combines romance and tragedy in a new form which anticipates the likes of Marlowe's Hero and Leander and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

727. FARNHAM, WILLARD. "Fall of Princes: Chaucer and Lydgate." In The Medieval Heritage of Elizabethan Tragedy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1936. Reprint. London: Basil Blackwell, pp. 129-60.

Places Chaucer's Monk's Tale and Troilus and Criseyde in the medieval, Boccaccian tradition of de casibus tragedy. Reads Monk's Tale as a "sterile confinement of Chaucer's spirit," yet appropriate to its fictional teller. Assesses Troilus and Criseyde as an "inspired glorification of Boccaccio's conception of tragedy" that benefits from its focus on a single tragic protagonist and its careful exploration of the theme of contemptus mundi in the work.

728. HART, THOMAS ELWOOD. "Medieval Structuralism: 'Dulcarnoun' and the Five-Book Design of Chaucer's Troilus." Chaucer Review 16 (1981):129-70.

Explores the elaborate geometrical and numerical relations that underlie the structure of Troilus and Criseyde, citing traditional sources, graphing the results, and arguing that Chaucer followed Geoffrey of Vinsauf's advice to compose poetry on architectural principles. Demonstrates how the number of lines in each book derive from a Pythagorean theorem cited by Criseyde and how the pentagon and circle can be used to generate several patterns of diction and image.

729. HUSSEY, S.S. "The Difficult Fifth Book of Troilus and Criseyde." Modern Language Review 67 (1972):721-29.

Attributes several "oddities" of Book Five of Troilus and Criseyde to the possibility that Chaucer did not revise and integrate this book as he did the others. The book lacks a proem, contains much rhetorical "padding," and jumbles its sources. Manuscript evidence supports the argument.

730. McALPINE, MONICA E. The Genre of "Troilus and Criseyde". Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978, 252 pp.

Argues that de casibus tragedy serves as a foil to the Boethian complexity of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, contrasting the single omniscient point of view of the genre with the poem's multiple perspectives. The conclusion of Troilus encompasses the comedy of Troilus's achievement of pagan wisdom and the tragedy of Criseyde's infidelity, modified by the audience's recollection of the integrity of their love and the narrator's efforts to "conclude his own performance." Such self-conscious contrasts and closures effectively communicate the Boethian truth of the limitations of all human effort and interpretation.

731. McCALL, JOHN P. "The Five-Book Structure of Chaucer's Troilus." Modern Language Quarterly 23 (1962):297-308.

Parallels the theme and structure of the five books of Troilus and Criseyde with those of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, arguing that Chaucer imitated the structure of the Consolation, inverted its "dramatic movement," and thereby made his tragedy a "companion piece" to Boethius's comedy.

732. MACEY, SAMUEL L. "Dramatic Elements in Chaucer's Troilus." Texas Studies in Language and Literature 12 (1970):301- 23.

Discusses Troilus and Criseyde in light of Aristotelian dramatic theory, assessing its five-act structure, scene divisions, rising and falling action, structural balance, and observance of the unities. The poem employs the major techniques of classical drama, but its Christian ethos and its epilogue make interpretation as an Aristotelian tragedy impossible.

733. MEECH, SANFORD B. Design in Chaucer's Troilus. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1959. Reprint. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969. 541 pp.

Close comparative reading of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Boccaccio's Filostrato, assessing Chaucer's achievement by observing his appropriation from Boccaccio's work and deviation from it. Chaucer's expands the poem's chronology and spatiality, its astrological machinery, and its atmosphere of inevitability, universalizing Boccaccio's message about love: in all earthly matters, expectations clash with actualities. Chaucer intensifies the courtly atmosphere of the poem and increases its irony both by sharpening the imagery and by juxtaposing conflicting scenes and songs. He defines his characters more sharply and presents their virtues and limitations with broader understanding and greater compassion. Yet his sense of determinism is strong.

734. MORGAN, GERALD. "The Significance of the Aubades in Troilus and Criseyde." Yearbook of English Studies 9 (1979):221- 35.

Analyzes the Proem and aubades (dawn songs) of Troilus and Criseyde, Book III, to clarify the poem's comparison of human and divine love. Chaucer's alterations of Boccaccio's Filostrato in these passages emphasize the insufficiency of earthly love and the "essential goodness of love itself."

735. PECK, RUSSELL A. "Numerology and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." Mosaic 4, no. 4 (1972):1-29.

Surveys the nature, function, and background of numerology in medieval poetry and argues for its significance in Troilus and Criseyde. Numerology underscores the contrast between the poem's five-part structure and its emphatically worldly setting. "Numerical metaphors" help define the characters.

736. ROBERTSON, D.W., Jr. "Chaucerian Tragedy." ELH 19 (1951):1-37. Reprinted in Chaucerian Criticism, Volume II: "Troilus and Criseyde" & The Minor Poems, ed. by Richard J. Schoeck and Jerome Taylor (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1961), pp. 86-121.

Defines Chaucerian tragedy in Boethian and Christian terms, explaining the importance of Fortune, reason, and duty to understanding the pattern of tragedy in Monk's Tale and Troilus and Criseyde. Troilus, like all Chaucer's tragic protagonists, echoes Adam's fall by abandoning human reason and likeness to God and subjecting himself to Fortune. His is the tropological pattern of "every mortal sinner."

737. SALTER, ELIZABETH. "Troilus and Criseyde: A Reconsideration." In Patterns of Love and Courtesy: Essays in Memory of C.S. Lewis. Edited by John Lawlor. London: Edward Arnold; Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1966, pp. 86-106.

Reads Troilus and Criseyde as a reflection of Chaucer "at work," observing his "gradually changing purposes" and his various modifications of tone and atmosphere. By virtue of its magnitude and "imaginative strength," the poem varies and fluctuates; its unity is coordinate rather than subordinate, communicating through significant breaks and pauses. Its greatness lies more in the questions about humanity it raises than in the answers it provides.

738. UTLEY, FRANCIS L. "Scene-Division in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." In Studies in Medieval Literature in Honor of Professor Albert Croll Baugh. Edited by MacEdward Leach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1961, pp. 109-38.

Analyzes Troilus and Criseyde as a series of eighty-three identifiable "scenes," demonstrating the skillful use of dialogue in the poem, its manipulation of visual image, its contrasts, and its deft shifts of tempo. Includes an "Analysis of Scenes" in schematic outline, indicated by line number.

739. VAN DYKE, CAROLYN. "The Errors of Good Men: Hamartia in Two Middle English Poems." In Hamartia: The Concept of Error in the Western Tradition: Essays in honor of John M. Crossett. Edited by Donald V. Stump and others. Texts and Studies in Religion, no. 16. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983, pp. 171-91.

Assesses Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Troilus and Criseyde in light of Aristotle's tragic theory, arguing that the poems and the theory reflect a similar paradox. The theory assumes and the poems generate double responses from the audience: the hero's error is innocent in that it is ignorant or limited, but he is nevertheless culpable before universal law. In the poems, ignorance and culpability parallel the Christian universals of mercy and justice.

740. YOUNG, KARL. "Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde as Romance." PMLA 53 (1938):38-63.

Extends and details Lewis's discussion (entry 700) of Chaucer's "medievalization" of Boccaccio's Filostrato, arguing that the romantic features of Troilus and Criseyde enhance its "glamor and strangeness." More than Filostrato, the poem distances us through setting and action, heightens the courtly atmosphere of the plot, and introduces romantic scenes. The "psychology" of the characters is not inimical to the poem's romance genre.

See also entries 689-90. For structure: 3, 159, 751-52, 769, 781; for genre: 1, 6, 9, 90, 152, 177, 212, 216, 700, 721.

Table of Contents

Previous Section: Troilus and Criseyde--Style and Imagery

Next Section: Troilus and Criseyde--Philosophy and Moral Vision