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MonkeyNotes-Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 3 Summary

Enter Hector and Andromache. Andromache attempts to persuade Hector not to go into battle that day. Hector refuses to listen to her. Andromache says she has had an ominous dream that she is sure will come true that day. Still Hector refuses to listen to his wife

Cassandra enters. Andromache enlists her support to persuade Hector not to go to battle. She tells her of her dream: ‘I have dreamt/Of bloody turbulence, and this whole night/Hath nothing been but shapes and forms of slaughter.’

Cassandra the prophetess says Andromache says the truth, and both of them attempt to persuade Hector to unarm and not go into battle. Hector refuses to listen to them. ‘Mine honor keeps the weather of my fate:/Life every man holds dear, but the dear man/Holds honor far more precious-dear than life.’ he says.

He hails Troilus who has just entered and asks him if he intended to go into battle.

Andromache sends Cassandra to call Priam to persuade Hector. Hector tells Troilus to ‘off thy harness’ and let his sinews grow stronger before he attempted a brush with the War. He tells him to disarm himself and that he, Hector will stand for himself, Troilus and Troy.

Troilus replies that ‘Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you, /Which better fits a lion than a man.’

Hector wonders what vice that is and asks Troilus to chide him for it. Troilus says that many times when Greeks find themselves at the wrong end of Hector’s sword, he allowed them to live. Hector says that he is only indulging in fair play. Troilus replies that it is ‘Fool’s play.’ He prays that they ‘leave the hermit pity with our mother;/And when we have our armors buckled on/The venom’d vengeance ride upon our swords, /Spur them to ruthful work, rein them from ruth!’ He means that when they are at War they must spur their swords to do piteous and rueful work and stop them from showing compassion.


Hector thinks Troilus’ idea is savage. Troilus says that that is the way of wars. He wishes to fight for himself since he seeks vengeance and not the exercise of mercy. Hector says that he won’t let him fight on that day. Troilus says nobody can stop him.- ‘Not fate, obedience, nor the hand of Mars.’ ‘Not Priamus and Hecuba on knees’ even if their eyes are sore with crying, ‘Nor you, my brother, with your true sword drawn/Oppos’d to hinder me, should stop my way, /But by my ruin.’

Priam and Cassandra enter. Cassandra tells Priam to catch hold of Hector and hold him fast as ‘He is thy crutch. Now if thou lose thy stay/Thou on him leaning, and all Troy on thee, /Fall all together.’ If Hector is allowed to go into battle, Cassandra says, the fall of Troy will inevitably follow. Priam attempts to dissuade Hector - he tells him that Andromache has dreamt, his mother has had visions, Cassandra has foreseen, and he himself like a prophet believed the day was ominous. He implores him, therefore, not to go into battle.

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