Ulysses Is Not the Hero of Troilus and Cressida
Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida is a notoriously bleak and problematic play: a dark comedy, a witty tragedy, an X-rated romance. A love story set during the Trojan War, the play appears to treat both love and war with utter cynicism. Ulysses drives the plot, craftily luring a despondent Achilles back onto the battlefield, and exposing Troilus to the betrayal of his beloved Cressida. A world-class manipulator and debunker of love and honor, Ulysses casts a shadow over this sour play, though he seems curiously unaffected by his skeptical outlook. A few critics have argued that Ulysses is the hero of Troilus and Cressida, a clear-sighted philosopher who may well speak for Shakespeare himself. I will argue against that view. I will also suggest that Troilus, if not the hero of this play, is perhaps its only sympathetic character.
Spiekerman, Tim, "Ulysses Is Not the Hero of Troilus and Cressida" (2016). The Review of Politics 78(4): 523-537. Faculty Publications. Paper 21.
The Review of Politics