The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Maguire, John B. "The Clandestine Marriage of Troilus and Criseyde." 8 (1974): 262-78.
The medieval Church taught that the mutual consent of the couple made a valid marriage, a church ceremony was not necessary; because of abuse, however, clandestine marriages were considered undesirable and, in some communities, unlawful. While Boccaccio clearly depicts an extramarital affair between Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer shows the lovers in a different light. Chaucer's Criseyde is a modest widow, unwilling to compromise her virtue. Troilus sings a hymn to Hymen, god of marriage, and, as in a medieval wedding ceremony, Troilus and Criseyde exchange rings and pledge their "trouthe" to one another. Furthermore, when Chaucer speaks of the tales of feminine fidelity he would rather tell, he choses tales of married women. The fact that Troilus and Criseyde are married explains why Troilus will not forget Criseyde even at Pandarus's urging and why he does not have the option of taking Criseyde away and then returning her if necessary. Finally, Chaucer never suggests that Troilus is guilty of sin.