Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Troilus and Cressida

Title: Troilus and Cressida
Author: William Shakespeare
Genre: Plays / Classics
Written: 1602 (probable)

Rating - 4 out of 10

More than any other author, I never like finding fault with Shakespeare, even though with some imperfect plays of his, it isn't all that difficult. Well, this was one of those plays. It's Shakespeare, yes, but a flawed one.

Troilus and Cressida is about a young man, Troilus, and his lover, Cressida. Set during the Trojan War, among other characters are the recognizable Achilles, Hector, Helen and Paris.
The main character's love story never seems very convincing. Troilus is constantly praising his beloved highly, while another character does his best to convince him of her low morals. And strangely, Troilus and Cressida are rarely in the same room or the same scene together. Most of their supposed "romance" is via them talking or thinking about each other separately.

The character of Cressida is not very built up at all. It takes a few scenes for her to enter the story, and once she does, virtually nothing about her is revealed. One catches fleeting glimpses of a feisty nature, but other than this, all we seem to really know of Cressida is that she is beautiful (and only because this is proclaimed by Troilus over and over). Shakespeare even goes so far as to say that her beauty rivals that of Helen's. I kept waiting for her to come more into focus, yet she never came out of the background. As a result, we have a lone character telling us that he is in love and in the middle of an epic romance, without any evidence of this, not even Cressida herself.

Another thing that I disliked about this play was how much dialogue there was. Yes, I know that plays are all dialogue, but what I mean is, no one ever did anything. All that the characters ever did was talk - and never about anything relevant.
These endless talks are not involved with the book's plot in any major way, save that the Trojan War is its setting, of course. They also seem to lead nowhere, and are simply dry and dull. Characters discuss battle tactics and war strategies, but nothing ever comes of them, making me wonder why they would be included in the first place.

I had never before seen Shakespeare write such dreadfully tedious scenes.
And besides the endless talking, I disliked the ending, in which Cressida is caught being unfaithful by Troilus. After that, she simply disappears altogether! She is not brought back into the story again for the entire book, besides when a letter arrives from her, which still offers little closure.

All in all, I disliked this one. Not recommended unless you want to read through Shakespeare's work in its entirety.