Images Of Love In Chaucer's Troilus And Criseyde

542 words - 2 pages

Images of Love in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

    The image of love created by Chaucer in Book I of "Troilus and Criseyde" is one which elicits pity rather than admiration. Yet, the poet professes to serve and celebrate the God of Love. Is the superficially motivated but all-consuming passion sparked in Troilus meant to serve as a warning to other lovers or a model? With the presence of several narrative interjections by the poet himself suggesting a method of interpretation, clearly some emphasis is placed upon an audience's ability to learn from "The double sorwe of Troilus" (1). As a cautionary tale, though, perhaps Chaucer attempts to describe the paradoxes seemingly inseparable from the very concept of love itself, rather than wholeheartedly espousing a comprehensive notion of love.


 Troilus' love is based initially upon physical appearance. Criseyde's beauty, we are led to believe, sparks an intensely emotional, possibly even spiritual response, in Troilus. "And in hire look in him ther gan to quyken/ So gret desir and such affecioun,/ that in his herts botme gan to sticken/ of her his fixe and depe impressioun" (295-98). This love almost immediately consumes Troilus; it becomes an obsession. "...every other charge he set at nought" (444). Ironically, Troilus, who once mocked other lovers, falls victim to (is humbled by) the "curse" or "illness" of love. Like the other classical and legendary examples Chaucer provides in Phebus Apollo and Paris, the love which plagues Troilus is described as a compulsion, a force which is virtually impossible to resist. Troilus often uses the word burning to describe his passion, likening his love to a fire which,...

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