Troilus And Cressida And Othello — страница 2

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suggestions of hands and arms, where hands are for giving in marriage and swearing oaths and arms are for embracing and fighting in honorable battles (it should be noted that, as he fights defends the cause of the thieving Paris, Troilus does not). The token of the sleeve given by Troilus to his beloved Cressida is therefore a mere shadow of the arms with which he should be embracing her and defending her honor. Similarly, the glove which Cressida bestows upon Troilus is a superficial promise to be true?an empty, unsubstantiated vow which she arguably never intends to fulfill. When Pandarus greets Troilus the first time he arrives at Cressida?s, he partially quotes a legal formula commonly used in establishing a contract between parties (3.2.57-8). However, he breaks off in

mid-sentence to bid Troilus enter while he orders a fire for the bedroom. The phrase which Pandarus omits is the part of the verbal contract which refers to the exchange of ?hand and seal? (footnote, 3.2.57-8). This serves as a suggestion of the marriage which will never occur as well as affirms the fact that the one event of importance to these three characters is merely a sexual encounter between Troilus and Cressida. Having left off in the midst of talking about a permanent situation between them in favor of inviting Troilus in and kindling a fire in the bedroom?a reference to the flames of passion?Pandarus has, in effect, foregone any obligation that the ensuing encounter would, under ?typical? circumstances have been a result of. When a woman?s hand was given in marriage,

she became the possession of the man to whom it was symbolically given. A lady?s hand, in being given to a man, is a symbol of both her status as his property and a legal and binding contract between them for her to remain so. Upon the trade of Cressida for Antenor being decided, Aeneas explains to Troilus that ?We must give up to Diomedes? hand/ The Lady Cressida? (4.2.67-8). A hand is not only a possession, if it is a woman?s, but it is also that which possesses, if it is a man?s?in this case Diomedes?. When Cressida, assumed by Troilus to be his in sexual conquest, is given over to the Greeks he remarks, ?At the port, lord, I?ll give her to thy hand,/ And by the way possess thee what she is? (4.4.111-112). Again, Troilus alludes to Cressida as a commodity, calling into

question just how adamantly opposed to the trade he is. While he merely means to tell Diomedes to keep his eye on her, Troilus is very blatant in his use of the word ?possess? which serves to strengthen the attitude he has towards her as an object to be owned. A glove however, without a hand by which one swears one?s honor and word, carries with it several suggestions that add depth to Cressida?s decision to give it as a love token to Troilus. One image that is seen throughout time in countless portraits of aristocrats and monarchs, is that of the powerful land-owning, ruling man holding his gloves in one hand. This has always been a symbol of a man?s dominion over his property. Thus, the fact that Cressida is giving her glove to Troilus may seem to be a submission to him as

dominating her. However, this idea can be immediately contradicted by the similarly familiar expression of throwing one?s glove to someone. This expression, referred to in the exchange scene by Troilus, is the declaration of a direct challenge (4.4.63). Cressida, by giving him the glove could be making a bet with him, challenging him, to remain true. She does not believe that he will keep his promise because, as she remarks earlier, ?They say all lovers? [vow] more than the perfection of ten and [discharge] less than the tenth part of one? (3.2.83-6). Here she has implied that, at the very least, he will make a half-hearted attempt, perhaps only a superficial attempt, at keeping his word to her. Perhaps she does not intend to keep hers, as she has only given him the shell, or

superficial implication of her hand, thus, in a way telling him that he can possess the glove but not her?that her heart is not in her words, just as her hand is not in the glove; both are insubstantial. One may wear one?s heart on one?s sleeve, one may hold it out in one?s hand. Does it ever make its way into one?s hand in the form of a handkerchief? Indeed, Shakespeare manages to place it there in Othello. Previous to the time frame encompassed by play, Othello, while courting his now-wife Desdemona, gave her a handkerchief. On the handkerchief are strawberries embroidered on a white background (3.3.450). Not only do strawberries resemble a heart in both color and shape, and not only are strawberries a commonly known aphrodisiac (an appropriate stencil for a love charm), but