In the events of the Trojan War, Patroclus figures as a minor character of small importance. Yes he is a great warrior and yes he is of high command for the Greek’s camp, but in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, he inhabits the role of the dutiful companion of Achilles and is a comic foil to the rest of the Greek heroes in the camp. Only his death spurs Achilles to become the enraged and aggressive fighter that he is known throughout the land to be.
If we probe into what Jim O’Rourke over at Florida State University calls the late 16th century “micro-politics” of Tudor England, we arrive at the interplay of Elizabethan prejudice, humor and self-hatred. O’Rourke is engaged in a debate with other scholars and his goal is to re-frame The Merchant of Venice as an anti-racist work that was written in response to the high profile case of Francis Bacon and Rodrigo Lopez in 1594, but his efforts are most helpful in localizing the themes of xenophobia and homophobia in the immediate historical moment of the play. Continue reading