The epilogue as the key to the thematic unity of Troilus and Criseyde

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Joyce Honeycutt Sloop (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Charles Tisdale

Abstract: The dispute among critics over the unity of the Epilogue with the narrative in Troilus and Criseyde is a result of the modern approach the critics have employed in reading the poem. This paper seeks to establish the thematic unity of the Epilogue with the narrative by utilizing the Medieval values of Chaucer's time as a guide to reading the poem. This approach reveals the Epilogue is the explicit statement of the theme implicitly developed in the narrative. Chapter I examines the Medieval values of sentence, hierarchy, and legendary history and concludes with an explanation of Chaucer's sentence of Charity. Chapter I supports the intellectual search through the surface narrative of a work for the underlying meaning, or the sentence, as the traditional approach to reading in the Middle Ages and as the level on which Chaucer's thematic unity is found. A study of the philosophic mode of the period, that of a hierarchical structure in creation, in society, and in man, reveals the centrality of the moral hierarchy of man to every external hierarchy of which he is a part. An examination of the significance that the Trojan reference in English legendary history held for the fourteenth-century Englishman reveals not only that Troilus1 moral fall is that of man, of prince, and of "Little Troy" or state; but it also supports the applicability of this moral cause of political fall to the state of political affairs in Chaucer's time. The research of this background chapter concludes with a focus on the sentence of Charity that Chaucer veils in the double fall of the narrative and expresses in the Epilogue.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1971
Shakespeare, William, $d 1564-1616 $x Criticism and interpretation
Shakespeare, William, $d 1564-1616. $t Troilus and Cressida

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