Troilus and Cressida, Problem play, Shakespeare, genre
Troilus and Cressida is a complex play of dualities and contradiction. Because of its confusing nature, many audiences have struggled to make sense of it. Since genre is one of the easiest ways to interpret a play, one of the looming questions about the play is "What genre is Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida?" It has been called a tragedy, "'a comedy of disillusion,' . . . 'a wry-mouthed comedy,' . . . a satire . . . a piece of propaganda . . . a morality . . . and (of course) a Problem play." Both critics and dramatists remain perplexed as they try to categorize it. Perhaps this is why the play has remained unpopular for much of its history—readers and audiences don't know what to do with such a haphazard play. Yet beneath the perplexing shadow of confusion lies a play that is profound. In retrospect, we begin to understand that Troilus and Cressida is "un"genred, but that this lack of category allows it to resist conformities and expand its scope. Although the play does not have a specific genre this flexible label allows the audience to make a more profound interpretation of the play because the limitations of interpretation that usually come with genre are absent.
Intensive reading, discussion, and (in some sections) viewing of plays from the comedy, tragedy, romance, and history genres.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Knudsen, Dana, "Troilus and Cressida: Shakespeare's Ungenred Promise Play" (2012). All Student Publications. 108.
Class Project or Paper
© 2012 Dana Knudsen
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