Monday, May 21, 2012

Suburbs of My Discontent

Oh, Cressida! Why art thou so insecure?

The Actors' Shakespeare Project did a brilliant production of Troilus and Cressida this season, which I was fortunate to see yesterday. The last time I encountered this play was in grad school (!), and I remember thinking that Cressida was lame and kind of slutty.

But I found myself more charitable towards her this time (because age make us more charitable towards everyone?). I loved her painfully honest concern that admitting her affection for Troilus will make him lose interest:

Cressida: Boldness comes to me now, and brings me heart: -
Prince Troilus, I have lov'd you night and day, 
For many weary months. 
Troilus: Why was my Cressid then so hard to win? 
Cressida: Hard to seem won; but I was won, my lord, 
With the first glance that ever Pardon me; 
If I confess much, you will play the tyrant. 
I love you now ; but not, till now, so much 
But I might master it. In faith, I lie; 
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown 
Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools! 
Why have I blabb'd? Who shall be true to us, 
When we are so unsecret to ourselves? 
But, though I lov'd you well, I woo'd you not; 
And yet, good faith, I wish'd myself a man; 
Or that we women had men's privilege 
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue; 
For, in this rapture, I shall surely speak 
The thing I shall repent. See, see ! your silence, 
Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws 
My very soul of counsel: Stop my mouth. 

What do we make, then, of Cressida's quick change of heart with the Greek man she's forced to marry? In her hasty hook-up with Diomedes, just moments after she's made Troilus swear up and down to stay loyal, Cressida's actions are a poetic statement about the fragility of all human bonds, the futility of words, and the inherent craziness of all humans in matters of love and war. 

Standing O!

No comments:

Post a Comment