chapter  VIII
18 Pages

'Discord in the spheres': the universe of Troilus and Cressida

The great play of Troilus and Cressida, one of the most weighty in the Jacobean period, has had a strange fate. Its readers have been variously affected by it, and our reflections, when we have not taken refuge in silence, have ranged from dismissing it as a piece of hasty work to defending it as a failure on a grand scale. Commentators! describe, in the one case, the ill-digested scenes mixed with graver, sometimes noble, matter, and in the other point out that, though Sakespeare had undoubtedly something which he wished to say (and to say in specifically dramatic terms), he for once mistook 'what may be digested in a play', and, by sheer pressure of content, broke the mould he tried to use.