Troilus and Criseyde

Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde College

As a poem that presents tragedy within love as inevitable, in Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer also explores the forces that control this downfall: Fortune, the planets and free will. These can be separated in to two categories, those that exist in the human world, and those that are of a higher power. However, Boethius’ ‘Consolation of Philosophy’- a key text in Chaucer’s process of writing- states that “the free exercise of the human will is part of destiny”[1]. This definition renders the distinction between free will and fortune as inaccurate if human will is seen as part of a greater scheme. This is portrayed through Chaucer’s work in that human intervention in the form of Pandarus occurs and still Troilus is thrown from the wheel. Therefore, Troilus and Criseyde explores not only the effects of tragedy in love but the cause of both the fortune and misfortune that is bestowed upon the characters.

Within the poem, Fortune is viewed as the traditional symbol of a wheel. Whilst the associations with Fortune are good, Chaucer specifies that “cessed she Fortune anon to be”[1] if she were unable to set another on the wheel in her favour. This suggests that in order for the idea of Fortune to exist in Troilus and Criseyde, it must...

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