Essay about The Narrative Of Troilus And Criseyde

1285 Words Apr 23rd, 2015 6 Pages
Oculos Habent, et Non Videbunt: Sight, Perception and Interpretation in the Narrative of Troilus and Criseyde

In his extended analysis of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Chauncey Wood notes that “Perhaps more than any other motif in the poem, the idea of blindness is the key to unlocking the tone of the work.” The poem continually foregrounds “eyen” as a malleable symbol that encompasses both physical and metaphorical sight and perception – and the absence of these faculties – in the narrator and the characters he portrays. Blindness in this poem is not simply the loss of physical sight, but the inability to intellectually perceive, interpret, and apply the lessons that the world of the text offers its characters, regarding ‘love’ and ‘fortune’ as blind and ‘blinding’ forces that bring them “fro wo to wele, and after out of joie.”
Toilus’ mockery, quoted above, of “lovers” who do not learn from the “woo” of others, then, seems to encapsulate the source of his own ruin. The hero fails to learn from the example of those he mocks, himself becoming an example, to Chaucer’s medieval audience, of the instability of human love. Yet, in another sense, Troilus’ downfall ultimately lies in his uncritical acceptance of the advice and narrative of Pandarus. The dubious argument of Pandarus that “a [blynd] fool may ek a wis man ofte gide” is aptly ambiguous regarding the “fyn” of this guidance. Pandarus, as a ‘narrator’ and ‘stage manager’, recasts the world of the text to furnish…

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