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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 2 Summary

Pandarus and Troilus’ man meet. The man tells Pandarus that Troilus is waiting for him to conduct him to Cressida’s. Troilus enters and the servant is dismissed. When asked if he has met Cressida yet, Troilus answers in negative.

Pandarus answers without frills - his business-like literalism is in strong contrast to Troilus’ slightly strained hyperbole. He tells Troilus to ‘‘Walk here i’th’orchard’ and adds that he will bring Cressida at once and exits. Troilus goes on in the same hyperbolic vein. He launches into a monologue on his fear of excessive delight. He says that he is giddy with expectation. The imagined relish of love is so sweet that his sense is enchanted. He wonders what will be the case when the salivating palate tastes Love’s nectar. He answers himself that the results will probably be death at the most, sounding destruction, or it could give (at least) some joy too fine, of such an extreme pitch that the sense of sweetness would be lost altogether.

Pandarus re-enters and tells him that Cressida is readying herself to come to him. He tells him to be alert and that Cressida is blushing and short of breath, as if she was frightened of a ghost. He says that he will bring her and mentions again that she is panting, ‘fetches her breath as short as a new ta’en sparrow.’ Pandarus exits again.


Troilus says that a similar passion is consuming him. His heart was beating ‘thicker than a feverous pulse,’ and all his faculties were becoming useless like a vassal who, all of a sudden, encounters the eye of Majesty. Pandarus and Cressida enter, and Pandarus proceeds to bring the couple together.

Troilus tells Cressida that she has bereft him of words. Pandarus says ‘Words pay no debts, give her deeds’ - meaning ‘enough of chatter, get down to the action.’ Deeds here mean copulation. Pandarus continues that Cressida would deprive Troilus of the ‘deeds’ too if his activity was in question. Then as the couple start kissing again, Pandarus quotes a common legal formula: ‘In witness whereof the parties interchangeably, ’ managing to play with a sexual implication. Before he exits, he asks them to go inside.

Cressida and Troilus speak, and the dialogue until Pandarus enters is riddling and affected. It can be called as a parody of court speech. Troilus tells Cressida that he has often wished to be in the state he is in right then. Cressida says the lords have granted his wish and abruptly interrupts herself. Troilus asks her the matter. Cressida hints at her fears. She hesitates.

Troilus tells her not to worry. She asks if lovers who have the voice of lions and the act of hares are not monsters. Troilus says that they are not like those lovers. His lines express a profound regret - not merely that lovers should be less than they claim to be, but that no love can ever find its proper and sufficient mode of utterance. All speech and all action come short. Using images of gestation and childbirth, Troilus says they aren’t like the lovers who have the voice of lions and the act of hares.

Pandarus enters and asks if they haven’t finished with talking. Cressida tells him that she dedicates whatever lechery she is about to commit, to him.. Pandarus playfully thanks her and says that if she became pregnant with a boy she would have to give it to him. He tells her to be true to Troilus, and that if he flinches, she can scold him for it.

Troilus tells Cressida that she has her uncle’s word and his faith. Pandarus insists that he give his word for Cressida too. He says that though his kindred might take a long time to be wooed, once they are won they are constant. He compares his kindred in this case Cressida to burs or seed vessel of goose grass that will stick to the surface that they are thrown at. Cressida says that she has grown suddenly bold and confesses to Troilus that ‘I have lov’d you night and day/ For many weary months.’

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