The True Characters of Criseyde and of Diomede in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde: A Restoration of the Reputations of Two Misunderstood Characters Unjustly Maligned in Literary Criticism
Master of Arts at Concordia University, Department of English, November (2011)
Criseyde and Diomede have been consistently misunderstood and vilified in literary criticism due to a failure in proper analysis of the text and an uncritical acceptance of influences irrelevant to its interpretation.
Criseyde, considered the ultimate female betrayer in literature, was in fact a victim of the betrayals of the four males who touched her life. She was a survivor in time of war who faced her perils with intelligence and dignity while having to make unwelcome choices and decisions under hostile circumstances beyond her control. Diomede is vilified as an amoral seducer when the text does not support such determination. He is a plain spoken military man, sincere, practical, intelligent, and worthy of Criseyde’s attention, and, ultimately, her love.
This thesis examines Criseyde’s sexuality, one of several leading motivators of her decisions and actions, a subject not generally analyzed in depth, but necessary for a true understanding of the plot and Criseyde’s character.By focusing microscopically on the text, Chaucer’s brilliance as poet,psychologist, and literary craftsman will become even more apparent than heretofore, and his masterpiece will be appreciated as a tale of ongoing relevance embodying mores no different than as at the present time.