The Catholic University of America

 

Veronica McGraw

"Troilus: Our (Pre-Christianity) Christian Hero"

Profile:

Veronica McGraw is a junior working towards a degree in Music, English, and a minor in French. Her academic interests include early 19th century British literature and the role of jazz and popular music in American society. This is also her second year as the president of the CUA Swing Kids and she enjoys running lessons and dances on campus. After graduation, Veronica hopes to go abroad to do a year of service. Afterwards, she wants to come back to America and open up a bookstore with her friend Rachel.

Interview:

Question #1

If you could highlight just one piece of evidence from your essay (whether it be a passage, primary source, excerpt from a song, or architectural structure) which would you choose and why?

...forsight of divine purveyaunce

 

Hath seyn alwey me to forgon Criseyde,

 

Syn God seeth every thyng, out of doutaunce,

 

And hem disponyth, through his ordinaunce,

 

In hire merites sothly for to be,

As they shul comen by predestine (Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, IV, 961-966). 

This passage comes at the end of the story after Criseyde has left and Troilus is left bewildered, wondering why she has left. It is important for two reasons. The first is Troilus' use of the word "God" which points towards an understanding of a  monotheistic God that he has been developing throughout the story. The second reason this passage is important is because it is discussion of predestination, free will, and God's involvement in the world. He argues that God knows everything and Criseyde leaving him was actually a predestined event. So, no matter what either of them did, she would have still left. His struggle with the tension between free will and God's ultimate power is a very common Christian problem and not a problem a pagan would really deal with, given the nature of their gods. It is a very good example of this Christian journey that Troilus has made throughout the story.

Question #2

What first motivated you to submit to Inventio, and having gone through the process as an author has your perspective on academic writing changed in any way, if so how?

I had never seriosuly encouraged trying to submit my work to Inventio because I did not believe my writing was at a high enough level. But Dr. Murton, who was my Chaucer professor, encouraged me to submit this paper to Inventio so I decided it would be worth a try. As an English major, I am used to the process of revision for papers, as it is often necessary to go through five or more as a paper is written, but, that revision process was amplified through Inventio. I worked on this paper for a year total, with both Dr. Murton and student editors, and I could still look at the published product and find things that could be changed. I think it is important to recognize that writing is a process that should not feel stagnant, because there is always more to learn!

Question #3

The theme of your paper centers around Troilus’s journey of faith, and the implicit Christian undertones which you perceive Chaucer to be using throughout Troilus and Criseyde. Would you go so far as to say that Christianity is actually the primary theme or message of Chaucer’s work, or would you say that the implicit Christianity you perceive is just one of many characteristics which add to the work but do not define it?

That's a great question. I believe that Chaucer makes Christianity the central theme of his version of Troilus and Criseyde, though I do not think that would be a popular opinion among critics. Troilus and Criseyde was already an old story when Chaucer began his version of the story. In comparison to the other versions, especially Boccacio's, Chaucer makes many changes. Some of the changes are subtle but all of them are important because they represent a break with the traditional story. Through these changes, Chaucer creates a Christian arc within this pagan story. Because of this emphasis, I would say that Troilus and Criseyde is ultimately a Christian tale.