Cressida Monologue (Act 3, Scene 2) | Monologues Unpacked

Cressida Monologue (Act 3, Scene 2)

Written by on | Monologues Unpacked

Today we’re going to take a look at a wonderful speech by Cressida from Troilus and Cressida. This love scene is one of Shakespeare’s best and this speech is one of our favourites. It’s filled with love, play, fun and some remarkably contemporary language. This is a great monologue for anyone auditioning for one of Shakespeare’s lovers. Let’s take a look.

Context

The play begins in the midst of the Trojan war. Largely the plot revolves around the leaders of the Trojan and Greek army respectively and the trials of politics and war. But today we’re going to focus on the kind of Subplot of Troilus and Cressida, the two star crossed lovers as it were. Troilus is a Trojan prince and the son of Priam (The King of Troy), and Cressida is the daughter of a Trojan priest who defected and sided with the Greeks.

In the beginning of the play we find ourselves near a battlefield; one of many taking place in this war, with Troilus and Pandarus (Cressida’s Uncle). Troilus is telling Pandarus about how desperately in love with Cressida he is and that he cannot fight because of his heartache. Pandarus assures him that he’s doing his best to set them up. Just then another soldier arrives to tell them that Paris has been wounded. Troilus agrees to join the fight.

Fast forward and we’re back in Troy as Cressida discusses the different Trojan princes with her servant. As this happens some of the Trojan generals arrive back home from battle including her Uncle, Pandarus. Pandarus then proceeds to talk up Troilus to her. Cressida says that she’s enjoying his pursuit of her.

So we fast forward quite a way now, through a lot of politics, fighting, jibing and grilling. Mostly centred around whether the Trojans have made a mistake in capturing Helen, the Queen of Sparta and how screwed they are keeping her as a prisoner of war. But they dismiss that and move on.

Through all this Pandarus has been working to set up Cressida and Troilus. And now the moment has come. One evening not long after all this Pandarus finds Troilus pacing around the orchard impatiently. He tells him that his desire for Cressida may soon come true and leaves Troilus giddy and excited. Pandarus returns with Cressida and then leaves the two alone…

Original Text

Boldness comes to me now, and brings me heart:
Prince Troilus, I have lov’d you night and day
For many weary months.
Hard to seem won; but I was won, my lord,
With the first glance that ever – Pardon me:
If I confess much you will play the tyrant.
I love you now, but till now not so much
But I might master it. In faith I lie –
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown
Too headstrong for their mother. – See, we fools!
Why have I blabb’d? Who shall be true to us
When we are so unsecret to ourselves? –
But though I lov’d you well, I woo’d you not;
And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,
Or that we women had men’s privilege
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,
For in this rapture I shall surely speak
The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,
Cunning in dumbness, from my weak draws
My very soul of counsel. Stop my mouth.

Unfamiliar Language

Weary: Long
Master: Control
Faith: Truth
Unbridled: Naughty?Uncontrolled
Blabb’d: Blabbed/Candid Speech
Unsecret: Open
Woo’d: Courted/Pursued
Bid: Tell
Rapture: Elation
Repent: Regret
Counsel: Judgement

Modern Translation

A sense of boldness has come over me now and it’s given me confidence.
Prince Troilus I have loved you night and day for many long months.
I only pretended to be hard to win over. But I was one over when I first met eyes – pardon me
If I say too much you’ll use it against me.
I love you now, but until now not so much that I couldn’t control it. Honestly, I’m lying
My thoughts about you were like naughty children who couldn’t be controlled by their mother.
Oh we’re so stupid! Why did I say so much? Who’s going to be honest with someone who can’t even keep their own secrets?
And even though I loved you I didn’t pursue you.
And yet, in truth, I wished that I was a man,
Or that women could make the first move. Sweetheart, tell me to stop speaking because I’m so giddy I might say something I regret.
See you’re staying quiet as a trick to make me give up all my secrets!
Kiss me!

Notes on Performance

This speech offers a remarkably contemporary style of writing which speaks to how Shakespeare probably would’ve performed it. This is a great opportunity to step away from any heightened performance ideas you might have about Shakespeare and really focus on the truth of the scene.

Keep in mind the anticipation that has gone into this scene. How long the two have pined for one another and let that be the driving force for you throughout the speech. It should be exciting, nerve wracking, but ultimately a relief of sorts.

Play the game that Cressida is playing of the push and pull between pouring her heart and soul onto the floor and keeping cool. This will make for a fun, dynamic reading of this great speech.


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