Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde Literary Elements


Medieval Romance

Setting and Context

Ancient Greece, during the Siege of Troy

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person narration, alternating between Troilus' and Criseyde's points of view

Tone and Mood

The mood changes with each book. In the first two books, Troilus begins to woo Criseyde and there is a constant upbeat sense of new love and beginnings. This changes in the third book, and the fourth and fifth are undeniably tragic as Criseyde must leave Troilus.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonists: Troilus and Criseyde | Antagonists: Diomedes and Calchas

Major Conflict

Troilus and Criseyde try to develop their relationship, only to be separated after a decision made by Calchas. Following this, their faithfulness is put to the test.


Troilus discovers Criseyde has been unfaithful with Diomedes and as a result, dedicates himself fully to battle, eventually being killed by Achilles.


Much of the foreshadowing occurs through the presence of Fortune. At the beginning of the play, the narrator states that Troilus is at the top of Fortune's wheel, and will soon fall. Another instance is when Pandarus tells Troilus to be steady and calm in his dealings with Criseyde, foreshadowing trouble to come.


Troilus' expression of both his bliss and sorrow can be seen as understatements, with the narrator repeatedly telling us that words can't suffice in describing the extremity of Troilus' emotions.


Allusions occur constantly throughout the text, with many references to other literary works, ancient myths, and astrological lore. For example, Cassandra's allusion to a lengthy Greek history of Diomedes and his father is what brings Troilus to understand Criseyde's betrayal.


Animal imagery occurs throughout to symbolize different archetypes and characters; the eagle, for example, is a representation of Troilus' masculinity, while the boar stands in for Diomedes.


The main paradox is Troilus himself. Within the first book, he openly mocks the God of Love, and anyone who is a slave to love. Almost immediately after, he sees and falls in love with Criseyde, whose presence controls him for the remainder of the story.


Chaucer opens Book 1 with the siege of Troy. In the middle sections, it seems as if Troy will remain a stronghold, just as Troilus and Criseyde's love is seemingly unbreakable. As the play ends, both Troy and their romance fall.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



Criseyde personifies jealousy as a "wicked serpent."