It is my utmost pleasure to be able to draw parallels between the story of Troilus and Criseyde, one of Chaucer’s less critically received works, and the 90’s comedy masterpiece Wayne’s World.
Troilus can be compared directly with Wayne. At each story’s onset, both Troilus and Wayne (Mike Myers) are just living their daily lives and being exceptional at what they do: Troilus is such an exceptional knight that he’s second only to Hector and Wayne is such an exceptional public-access television personality that a bigshot producer wants to buy his show. Up until they are introduced to their respective romantic interests, they are each content in their situations and aren’t seeking love: Troilus spends his days hanging out and mocking his peers for being in love while Wayne also just wants to rock out with his bros and get away from his ex-girlfriend. Neither of them are expecting to have their worlds rocked by love at first sight, and neither of them are able to escape love’s grasp. In the same way Troilus immediately and completely falls for Criseyde when her sees her in the temple, Wayne does the same when he sees Cassandra (Tia Carrere) on stage performing with her metal band. Garth (Dana Carvey) could be compared to Pandarus in their roles as wingmen, but Pandarus goes much farther in obsessively pushing his goals for Troilus while Garth is more of an affable sidekick.
Criseyde compares to Cassandra in more ways than just being the love interests for their respective male counterparts. They both display more control over their emotions than their significant others and are the ones in control of their relationships overall. It’s up to Troilus and Wayne to woo Criseyde and Cassandra, but not so much the other way around. They are also each brought into the same romantic conflict: an attractive outsider seeks to win their affections away from their current relationships, which links to our next character comparison.
The bigshot producer that bought Wayne and Garth’s show, Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe), also has eyes for Cassandra and seeks to use his status and Hollywood connections to woo her. He promises that he can make her band famous and offers to produce music videos for them, which Cassandra is obligated to accept on behalf of her bandmates. He uses these video shoots to get closer to her. In the same way Benjamin capitalizes on a situation that is somewhat out of Cassandra’s control, Criseyde is approached by Diomede. Criseyde is vulnerable and surrounded by potential threats, so she accepts Diomede’s protection. Both men use their advantaged situations in an opportunistic way, although Diomede is notably more innocent as he is not aware of Criseyde’s relationship with Troilus in the same way that Benjamin is knowingly driving a wedge between Wayne and Cassandra.
To win Cassandra back, Wayne makes a grand gesture of hacking Benjamin’s TV network to broadcast Cassandra’s band to the entire United States. Here, the Wayne’s World continuity splits: the film did something funny and unique by having three alternate endings all play out in sequence, and one of the endings is directly comparable to the ending of Troilus and Criseyde. The “neutral ending” is a Scooby Doo parody where Wayne reveals that Benjamin is actually Old Man Withers. In the “super happy ending”: Wayne and Cassandra reunite, Cassandra signs a record deal, Garth gets a girlfriend, Benjamin learns a valuable lesson about self-worth, and everyone lives happily ever after. The super happy ending is canon ending as the film rolls credits. The first of the three alternate endings is the one that compares most equitably to Troilus and Criseyde: the “tragic ending”. After Wayne’s attempt to make Cassandra’s band famous, their record deal is immediately denied, Cassandra breaks up with Wayne and leaves with Benjamin, and then Wayne’s house (and the basement studio for his show) burns down. This is the ultimate defeat for Wayne as he loses everything. Cassandra chooses Benjamin just like how Criseyde ultimately goes with Diomede. Wayne loses his lover, his livelihood, and his home in the same way Troilus loses his lover, his life, and later all of Troy. Thankfully, Wayne decides that this ending is too much of a bummer and rewinds the film into the neutral and super happy endings. Troilus doesn’t get to rewrite events the same way, but he does get his own sort of super happy ending in that he has transcended the pain of mortal matters and gets to laugh at those mourning over him.
Overall, this was an extremely fun comparison to make and I was not expecting the plots to meld as well as they did. Party time. Excellent.