The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Stevens, Martin. "The Winds of Fortune in the Troilus." 13 (1979): 285-307.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer uses the image of the boat in the sea of life driven by a force such as Fortune uncontrolled by man . Troilus uses this image to describe his state. Ultimately, he ceases to believe that Fortune steers his boat and focuses on Criseyde instead. The attention to an earthly guide leads to his destruction. All of the characters recognize the power of supernatural forces, but they fail to recognize what those forces are doing in their world. The narrator is most subject to Fortune, recognizing his powerlessness; he presents authority, but not experience. Pandarus stands in direct opposition to the narrator because he acts on his own, disregarding the will of the gods. Pandarus is a poet-figure because he "makes" the love between Troilus and Criseyde with his words (247), but while Pandarus freely uses his imagination, the narrator merely reports. The conflict between the two points of view reflects Chaucer's struggle to define the role of the artist. In the sea-imagery, Troilus's direction, first inward towards consummating his love and then outward to death, becomes important. Chaucer uses the image of the boat driven across the sea of life to depict Boethius's idea that recognizing God's Providence requires insight.