The Troilus and Cressida play is set in Troy, a city in Anatolia, which is now in Turkey. The action takes place in the city and in the Greek camp outside the city walls. It is set around 5000 BC.
Date written: 1602
Genre classification: Troilus and Cressida is generally regarded as a Problem play.
Main characters in Troilus and Cressida: The Prologue is a soldier who narrates the story as it goes along, informing the audience about the settings and the main action of the play.
Hector is the son of Priam, King of Troy. He is a kind and noble warrior.
Troilus is the youngest son of Priam. He is the lover of Cressida, a young Greek woman who is bartered by the Trojans for a Greek captive. Cressida eventually betrays Troilus.
Pandarus, the go-between for the two lovers, is Cressida’s uncle.
Achilles is one of the Greeks’ main warriors. He is arrogant and difficult to deal with.
Ajax is a heroic Greek warrior with a Trojan mother.
Ulysses is one of the main warriors on the Greek side. He is the main strategist for the Greeks.
Nestor is the most senior, most experienced, member of the Greek side.
Diomedes is an ambassador for the Greeks and arranges the exchange of prisoners.
Thirsites is a Fool, an unreliable narrator, who influences audience views of the action.
Helen is the Greek wife of Menalaus, who has been abducted by Paris, another son of Priam. She is the ‘face that launched a thousand ships’ and the cause of the Trojan war.
See a full list of characters in Troilus and Cressida.
Troilus and Cressida themes: Ignorance and self deception are the main themes of the play. Characters are unable to learn from experience and repeat their mistakes. They are mainly shallow and although great heroes in mythology, they follow the false gods of fame and glory but remain narrow-minded and small personally. Their problems arise entirely from fighting a major war for no real reason. The theme of appearance and reality is manifested in the beauty and seemingly charming personalities of the women and the handsome and seemingly mighty warriors being inwardly ugly, shallow, weak, and in some cases, mad.