Here I go again.
Here I go again.
As I was reading Act 3, scene 1 I noticed extensive repetition during Helen and Pandarus’ conversation (3.1.42-141). I thought it would be interesting to use Voyant to find out how many times the words are actually used.
Here is the visual:
To my surprise, at 19 times the most used word is you. It is followed by my at 17 times. In a tie for third we have lord, queen and sweet all being used 16 times!
The use of the words lord, queen and sweet can be seen here:
I was surprised to learn that the word fair only showed up 10 times and all at the beginning of the conversation!
Starting off with “pander” from 3.2.206, except this word wasn’t coined by Shakespeare. The word originated from the character Pandarus; its meaning derived from the character’s role as a go-between in the various adaptations of the love story of Troilus and Cressida (or Criseyde). Shakespeare simply reinforced its meaning with its use in Troilus and Cressida, as explained by the Oxford English Dictionary:
Next is “unplausive”, seen in 3.3.43. My little annotation on the first picture above shows the word means “disapproving”, as taken from OED as well:
“Unplausive” is a word we don’t use as much in modern language (its last cited use was in the 30’s). Even its opposite, “plausive”, is considered rare.
Another word that Shakespeare coined, and is now obsolete, is “rejoindure” (4.4.35). According to OED, the word seemed to be only useful in early 17th century up to mid 18th century.
Not all words or new meanings Shakespeare invents dies during his time. “Appalled” (4.5.4), in which Shakespeare coined a new meaning for, is still used today (its first two meanings of being “made pale” or being “flat or stale” are now obsolete). That is, we use it more in the context of simply being “dismayed”, and not exactly as “bereft of courage…at the sudden recognition of something dreadful”.
Another is “multipotent” (4.5.130), its usage did not die in the Elizabethan era. Though this isn’t exactly used in our daily casual conversations, but nevertheless it’s not considered obsolete.
Then we have “untraded” (4.5.179), in which Shakespeare made up a new meaning for, and seemed to have been only used once in Troilus and Cressida. Even in its other contexts, this word is also obsolete.
“Expectance” (4.5.157) is still around today, but is no longer used exactly in the context that Shakespeare invented. It is more commonly used as “anticipation”, and this newer meaning is derived from its older meanings.
Through these neologisms in Troilus and Cressida, we see how influential William Shakespeare has been in the English language. Though not all of the words he makes up last, some are still used today, or used at some point in time, or became the basis for the evolution of other meanings.
In making the poster for troilus and cressida I was playing off of the idea of the conflict between personal interests and the interests of the state in the play. The picture is to demonstrate the contradiction between the violence of war and the love for which the war is supposedly fought. The quote at the bottom of the poster is to represent the debatable true motives behind the conflict. Is it truly over love? Or the hurt pride of agamemnon and troilus?
The Ulitimate Troilus and Cressida Stage Production by Andrew Lane
Imagine if you will the first ever puppet performance of Troilus and Cressida. Close you eyes and your there. You can’t loose. The puppet performer is wearing a Trojan helmet so even if seen he will fit in with the performance. The puppets will be used to perform the various roles throughout the play. The backdrop seen in the poster is to represent the war between the Trojan’s and the Greek’s. Here is the poster for my grand production. Hope you enjoy it!!!
How about you? Pick a speech and curse like Thersites, pontificate like Ulysses, swoon like Troilus, or simper like Pandarus! Or choose your favourite sonnet and give us your best oral interpretation. Tag it with #engl205, and make sure you report it using the form.
For a long time, I’ve been having issues with Voyant. But in the dark shadows of yesternight, I gathered up each and every ounce of determination and submitted my hours to analyzing Voyant.
And well, well, wasn’t it fun.
I chose to analyze a portion of Troilus and Cressida, more specifically the dialogue between Pandarus and Cressida as they comment on the passing warriors, Aenaes, Antenor, Hector, Paris, Helenus, and last but not least, Troilus.
My findings? “…mark Troilus above the rest” (1.2.175), “…mark Troilus” (1.2.181-2), “When comes Troilus? I’ll show you Troilus anon…”(1.2.187-8), “Would I could see Troilus now.” (1.2.208) and so on….
“…but mark Troilus above the rest.” (1.2.178)
As Pandarus introduces each soldier by name, he emphasizes again and again upon Troilus. Almost as if Cressida would fall in love with the repetition of Troilus’ name, and Pandarus’ deed will be done! (On the contrary, I believe that if mentioned too much, Cressida will start to harbor frustration towards “Brave Troilus, the/ prince of chivalry!” (1.2.220-1). I mean, she does rebuke her uncle by saying “Peace, for shame, peace!” (222))
Similarly, the word “brave” is mentioned quite often. Either Pandarus wants enforce Troilus’ brave nature, or he just lacks a better adjective (seeing how that’s all he uses to describe all of the soldiers). If the “brave” technique is all Pandarus can think of for making Cressida fall head over heels for Troilus, he needs to come up with something better!
“That’s Aeneas; is not that a brave man?” (1.2.180)
“O brave Hector!” (1.2.194)
“…yonder comes Paris!/ Look ye yonder, niece, is’t not a gallant man too, is’t/ not?” (1.2.204-6)
I believe that my findings through Voyant have summarized what’s happening in this passage: Pandarus points out certain soldiers but returns again and again to Troilus, mentioning him so that Troilus will be safely nestled in the back of Cressida’s mind. Evidently, Pandarus has no way of being subtle and acts like a complete “bawd”, selling Troilus to Cressida, in this scene, and vice versa, in others.
Voyant (pdf attachment, for some reason my jpg uploads were a “security error”)
I used Voyant to look at the speech by Ulysses in Act I, Scene III of Troilus and Cressida. To summarize what happens at the beginning of this scene before the speech is given, Agamemnon is talking with the other Greek leaders, wondering why the troops are so downcast. He believes that they should embrace the struggle as greatness comes from difficult times. Nestor agrees with him and says that heroism is born of struggle. When Ulysses speaks, he agrees, but also says that the real problem that is making the soldiers downcast is that they are losing respect for authority, and the problem comes from Achilles. Achilles is sitting in his tent lazily, and Patroclus is making fun of the leaders, and Ajax and his slave, Thersites, are doing the same and so are making the problem worse. Everyone agrees that this is a problem and then Anaeas of the Trojans comes, issuing Hector’s challenge to have the greatest Greek warrior fight him in single-combat. After Anaeas leaves, Ulysses realizes that this challenge is meant for Achilles, but he sees that if Achilles were to lose, the entire Greek army would lose morale. He suggests that Ajax fight instead, because if he lost, then they could claim that Achilles would have won had he been the one fighting, and also, this snub of the title of being the greatest Greek warrior would bother Achilles so much that he would join in the war again and bring with him his men. In this speech, Ulysses highlights the importance of restoring the soldiers’ respect for authority, saying that their lack of respect will lead to anarchy and thus destruction.
Reading this speech, you can clearly see the wisdom and intelligence of Ulysses that is so famously shown in The Odyssey. I had this sense that he was a doctor diagnosing the problem and giving the right prescription for it. As wise and intelligent as Ulysses is, and having read The Odyssey and seeing that he has a hubris problem (specifically when he meets the Cyclopes Polyphemus and tells him his name after blinding him, which comes back to bite him), I thought it was interesting that Ulysses was focused on maintaining unity and understanding the need for the Greeks to work together and not seeking to control the army himself, even though he was smart enough to do so.
I thought that the metaphor of the hive and the bee was interesting especially because a similar metaphor was used in The Rape of Lucrece, though under different circumstances. It’s also interesting to note that in Shakespeare’s time, people believed that there was a hive king and not a hive queen – that just shows how deep the misogyny ran.
As seen in my Voyant screenshot, the word “degree” is repeated several times throughout this speech. It’s clear that this word means authority, and Ulysses paints a strong picture of the threat of the lack of authority. In his discussion of the heavens and planets, it means destruction, the reverse of what is natural – something that Shakespeare focuses a lot on in his works. In The Tempest, for example, Prospero calls his younger brother “unnatural” because he usurped him – in Shakespeare’s world, it is unnatural for the younger brother to have more power than the elder. It is a lack of order, and so it is chaos. Ulysses goes on to discuss what a lack of respect of authority means in daily life – sons would disrespect their fathers and justice would fail. In saying that authority is “the ladder to all high designs” it is suggestive of the concept of the divine right of kings, saying that the authority belonging to these Greek kings is given to them by their gods. To me, this speech was especially reminiscent of Macbeth and of Hamlet, where the political upheaval in the lands of the stories actually causes horrible natural disasters – this can be seen in King Lear as well, where when Lear has been cast out by Regan and Goneril he is outside in a terrible storm.
Ulysses is wise and eloquently makes very powerful points that in a time where it was understood that the disintegration of order meant chaos, would have greatly appealed to the audience and would have been supported.
Here is my reading of the Prologue of Troilus and Cressida. I really enjoy reading aloud and so this was a lot of fun for me, especially because this was one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and favourite prologues! I just love the lines “and hither am I come
A prologue arm’d, but not in confidence
Of author’s pen or actor’s voice, but suited
In like conditions as our argument,
To tell you, fair beholders, that our play
Leaps o’er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils,
Beginning in the middle, starting thence away
To what may be digested in a play.
Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are:
Now good or bad, ’tis but the chance of war.”
What an enticing opening!