Troilus and Criseyde

Chaucer's Troilus & Criseyde: The Frivolity of Femininity

To be female is to be frivolous and inconstant. This is the position that Geoffrey Chaucer takes in his love poem, "Troilus and Criseyde". The lovely Criseyde, with whom Troilus falls madly in love, is the epitome of frivolity and inconstancy, in her actions as well as her thoughts. Criseyde's own uncle, in reference to the wavering woman's heart, says that "keeping is as hard as winning [it]" (book3.verse234). Chaucer also uses symbolism: the moon parallels Criseyde's actions; it is ever-changing, like a woman's prerogative. Chaucer also reflects on the role of Fortune, who, having a feminine character, is constantly subject to whimsy and change. Chaucer's negative view of the female gender can clearly be seen throughout this tale.

Criseyde is the most significant example of Chaucer's perspective, and by far the most straightforward. She promises Troilus with many heartfelt words that she will forever be true to him, swearing to God that she will never stray: "For I am yours, by God and this true oath" (3.216). She makes these vows with honesty in her heart: "All she said was said with good intent, / ...she spoke just what she meant" (4.203). While this may appear...

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