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Cresseid ‘Beyond the Pale’

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Chapter Summary

The conjunction of Man and Moon has various literary occurrences, a notable early example of which can be found in Robert Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid. Dating from the late fifteenth century, this Scottish poem provides an alternate conclusion to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, one that subjects the female protagonist to leprosy and an untimely death. The beliefs of common people come into special prominence in The Testament. A significant contributor to the power of The Testament of Cresseid is the distinctively uncourtly, unclerkly awareness expressed intermittently therein of expulsion and its attendant suffering. That awareness persists under prevailing strictures: in The Testament, rebellion seems impossible to depict without its being framed and defined by authority.

Keywords:female protagonist; Robert Henryson; Scottish poem; The Testament of Cresseid



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