BU Film School

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

FT 553 Reading: Troilus and Cressida

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Written by: William Shakespeare
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Synopsis
Prologue: soldier armed for battle. Sexual metaphors ("Sixty and nine," "high blood chafed").

Act 1, Scene 1: in Troy. Troilus implores Pandaraus, who counsels patience. Troilus lovesick, doesn't want to fight. Pandarus says he won't meddle, leaves. Aeneas comes. Troilus follows him off. Parody of love prose (descriptions of beloved).

Act 1, Scene 2: in Troy. Cressida and Pandraus. Battle of wits. Cressida playing hard to get. Pandarus promotes Troilus. Lots of sarcasm. Watch for Troyans returning from field, Pandarus describes each. Troilus marches even though he hadn't fought that day.

Act 1, Scene 3: Greek council of war. They discuss problem of Achilles, who stays in his tent with Patroclus making fun and acting proud. Ajax imitates him. Destroys noble conceptions. Aeneas comes from Troy, bearing Hector's challenge. Ulysses' idea: Hector intends to fight Achilles, must not allow (bad representative of Greeks). Promote Ajax as champion instead.

Act 2, Scene 1: Greek camp. Ajax tries to beat Thersites into revealing news. Thersites berates him. Lots of sarcasm. Achilles, Patroclus come. Thersites insults them. News: Hector's opponent will be chosen by lottery.

Act 2, Scene 2: Troy, Priam's palace. Discussion: give Helen back? Hector -- let her go, not worth the lives that have been lost. Troilus -- keep her, honor more important than "reason". Hector -- don't overvalue it. Troilus -- everyone approved the mission, can't throw away prize. Cassandra enters -- let her go, woe! Troilus -- don't listen, she's mad. Hector -- keep her, our reputation and dignity depend on it.

Act 2, Scene 3: Greek camp, near Achilles' tent. Thersites rails against ignorance, lack of wit, foolish war. Verbal joust with Patroclus, Achilles. Agamemnon comes, summons Achilles, who refuses to come out of his tent (citing illness, hoping that issue not serious). Achilles won't fight tomorrow. Others praise Ajax, inflating his pride.

Act 3, Scene 1: Troy, Priam's palace. Pandarus talks to Paris, asks him for alibi on behalf of Troilus. Helen flirts with Pandarus. Lots of bawdy talk.

Act 3, Scene 2: Troy. Pandarus brings Troilus to Cressida. Verbal jousting, wooing. Troilus vows to be true. Cressida says if she proves false, let them use her name to represent falseness. Pandarus pledges same with his name (all brokers be Pandars).

Act 3, Scene 3: Greek camp. Calchas, Cressida's father, asks for exchange to get his daughter. The rest agree. Commanders snub Achilles. Ulysses explains -- worth depends on others' view. History's deeds less important than present ones (don't rest on laurels). Achilles -- let's invite Hector after fight.

Act 4, Scene 1: Within Troy. Diomedes meets Troyans, with the mission of taking Cressida. Aeneas and Diomedes spar verbally -- insults dressed up as chivalry. Diomedes says Paris and Menelaus deserve Helen equally -- one a lecher, the other a cuckold.

Act 4, Scene 2: Troy. Calchas' house. Troilus and Cressida the morning after. Flirty, reluctant to leave each other's presence. Pandarus comes, Cressida mocks him. Aeneas comes to fetch Cressida, who begs Pandarus to let her stay.

Act 4, Scene 3: Troy, near Calchas' house. Paris, Troilus going to deliver Cressida.

Act 4, Scene 4: Troy. Calchas' house. Cressida, Troilus sad, exchange love tokens. Troilus tells her to be true, not out of fear but as a reminder to him (protests too much). Troilus praises Cressida, asks Diomedes to take care of her for his sake. Diomedes scorns his oath, says will take care of Cressida for her sake. Tension.

Act 4, Scene 5: Greek camp. Ajax armed for battle. Cressida brought, has to kiss generals, defends herself with sarcasm. Ulysses sarcastic too, rebuffs her proferred kiss. After she leaves, he calls her temptress. Trojans come. Hector and Ajax fight. During pause, Hector comments that they're cousins, urges cease of fight, Ajax accepts. Hector invited to visit tents. Achilles and Hector spar verbally. Tonight friends, tomorrow will fight. Troilus asks Ulysses where Cressida is.

Act 5, Scene 1: Greek camp. Achilles and Thersites exchange insults. Achilles has letter from Hecuba, with a love token from one of her and Priam's daughters -- won't fight. Hector comes to tent. Diomedes leaves, supposedly on business. Ulysses and Troilus follow. Thersites follows them.

Act 5, Scene 2: Greek camp. Diomedes and Cressida spar, flirt. She gives him Troilus' sleeve (love token). Troilus enraged, Ulysses holds him back. Thersites comments. Troilus tries to convince himself that Cressida wasn't herself, vows to kill Diomedes.

Act 5, Scene 3: Troy, Priam's palace. Andromache and Cassandra try to convince Hector not to fight. Hector says no, he promised to meet challenge. Pandarus brings Troilus a letter from Cressida. Troilus reads it and rips it up (words, just words).

Act 5, Scene 4: Battlefield. Thersites comments on battle. Troilus and Diomedes fight. Hector challenges Thersites, who says he's a rogue. Hector lets him live.

Act 5, Scene 5: Battlefield. Diomedes steals Troilus' horse. Agamemnon has news -- not going well for Greeks. Patroclus hurt. Achilles gets mad and arms himself, weeping. Ajax goes after Troilus. Achilles seeks Hector.

Act 5, Scene 6: Battlefield. Ajax and Diomedes argue about who gets to fight Troilus, who fights both of them. Achilles and Hector fight, Achilles gets tired and withdraws.

Act 5, Scene 7: Battlefield. Achilles plots with his Myrmidons to ambush Hector. Paris and Menelaus fight. Bastard wants to fight Thersites, who drives him away with insults.

Act 5, Scene 8: Battlefield. Hector has killed someone, takes off armor. Achilles confronts him, and orders Myrmidons to fight Hector, who is killed.

Act 5, Scene 9: Battlefield. News -- Hector slain by Achilles. Greeks march, Agamemnon summons Achilles, war ended.

Act 5, Scene 10: Battlefield. Troilus has news of Hector -- slain, dragged by horse. Troilus wants to continue fighting. Pandarus comes, Troilus scorns him. Pandarus rails at audience.

My notes
Achilles and Patroclus -- won't fight, mock others. Achilles over-proud. Nestor -- older, sly. Hector -- noble. Troilus -- innocent, but gives up Cressida. Ajax -- dumb as ox.

"... fair without, and foul within." Cressida, false chivalry. War a game most of the play. Petty rivalries, blind love rule. Thersites trickster, fool who speaks truth.

FT 553 notes (from 07/06/04)
-- Satirizes Trojan War, parodies bombastic language. Warlike in the same way Duck Soup is.
-- Except for Hector, no character sees beyond own groin.
-- Thersites trickster character.

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