Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde consistently and emphatically stresses the absolute nature of courtly love and its proclivity to incite moral responsibility with relation to one's sense of free will and personal obligation. Chaucer toys with the notion of Troilus' free will versus his manipulation by outside forces as a result of what J. Allan Mitchell in his essay, Romancing Ethics in Boethius, Chaucer, and Levinas: Fortune, Moral Luck and Erotic Adventure terms radical passivity. (102). In Troilus' inaction in the face of courtly love, he surrenders his ability to choose and succumbs to the will of the external forces of Fate, Fortune, and Love. The subjection of one's self to a higher authority consequently results in action out of necessity; thus a disavowal of freewill that paves fatalistic avenues which eventually seal one's fate. After this point of choice, (referring to the moment when an individual must act on behalf of his free will or remain passive (Patch, 236)) Troilus neglects any responsibility for his actions and instead relinquishes his fate to the will of external determinants. Simply put, the inaction of Troilus at decisive moments gives rise, or necessitates, the action of other forces his passivity causes the effects of his destiny. In true symmetrical form, Chaucer's narrative follows the same formula of cause and effect. The narrator acknowledges his sources as historical texts, therefore the reader already knows how the story ends from the very first page the deterministic path for which the plot will proceed. Furthermore, Chaucer's narrator frequently reminds the reader that he is merely relaying the story of other authors, displacing any authorial responsibility he might be held accountable for and thus submitting his freedom of choice to external forces his auctors. Essentially, Chaucer's narrative parallels the same fundamental question Troilus poses of predestination, allotting his character's a certain degree of independence, though their outcome is already known. (Owen, 440).
[...] ( 1.197 -203) By speaking with future contingency of what will happen once one does yield to the laws of Love, Troilus sets himself up to become the very victim of love he chastises. However, the final line in this stanza, “Ther nys nat oon kan war by other or loosely translated in textual notes, “There is not one who an be cautioned by another,” reveals that despite the theory of “Oedipus effect,” there is still room for free will Troilus is not to the pain love can bring, and though he says one cannot be warned by another, he fails even to heed his own advice. [...]
[...] In book III Troilus and Criseyde consummate their love, emphasizing the physicality of their love and the strategic moves Troilus, or rather Pandarus, employs to achieve that love. Line 1683 if it erst was wel, tho was it confirms Troilus' view of courtly love as a game by juxtaposing the attainment of Criseyde's body was it or some sort of prize. Again Chaucer uses the notion of the ‘game of love' in book V when Troilus laments his despair at having “lost the cause of al my game.” (420). [...]
[...] The freedom of choice remains in his corner. With Troilus' future contingency established, the role of destiny sets about to fulfill it. There are three external influences to which Troilus actively submits: the first is the often comical and highly excitable Pandarus with his manipulative planning of Troilus' and Criseyde's affair. Troilus seeks the aid of Pandarus only after he has willing given up his freedom of will. Troilus' apparent “tendency to suffer rather than to becomes Pandarus charge in launching him into action though Pandarus has no experience in love himself. [...]
[...] This statement stresses that Chaucer's ability to effectively raise awareness of Troilus' role in free will allows the reader, despite knowing how the tale ends, the sense that Troilus retains some semblance of freedom of choice. Owen suggests that there are levels of awareness on one the outcomes of love and war are known from the start. On the other the characters live in ignorance of what their choices and their evasions of choice will inevitably bring to pass.” (440). [...]
[...] Here Troilus can be seen as a tool or functionary purely subject to the will of others and of various ‘codes of law.' Troilus sacrifices his free will for passivity and prays to celestial forces and moral guidelines to counsel him correctly. Ethics, or a restriction of freedom based on a moral code such as that of courtly love, arise out of moral responsibility to adhere to those rules. It is precisely at this moment where one's “point of choice” occurs and he must either surrender his will or act upon it. [...]
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