Chaucer shows the distorted love of Troilus and Criseyde in Troilus and Criseyde. The two lovers exalt in the romanticized love they share for each other and mock the love of everyday marriages. The love of Troilus and Criseyde gives the false impression that courtly love is more romantic, beautiful, and ideal than married love that is without the fake fanciful trappings that are prevalent in courtly love.
Troilus and Criseyde consider courtly love more romantic than married love. Courtly love disdains marriage and rejects the Christian view on marriage. Marriage orders procreation and a lifetime commitment not passion and lust. Nature demands marriage to fulfill its purpose; to go forth and multiply. On the other hand, courtly love defies nature as men and women are made to marry and reproduce with each other. It separates love from marriage and children and divorces marriage from its true purpose. The ancient cult of courtly love glorifies the intrigue of adulterous love over the prosaic marital love in its humdrum familiarity. Courtly lovers such as the dramatic Troilus and practical Criseyde relish the keen anticipation and heightened pleasure of their romantic rendezvous. Their clandestine love affair is secret and forbidden with pure artfulness which makes it far more appealing than conventional marital love. The heresy of courtly love eliminates romance from marriage and identifies the rapture of love with extramarital liaisons protected with the utmost secrecy.
Troilus and Criseyde find courtly love to be more beautiful than marital love. They often speak euphorically about the bliss of their love, the greatness of their ardor, the worship of their pleasure, and their undying vows of commitment toward each other. Troilus rejoices in her beauty and in his own joy. Criseyde in turn delights in their sweet passionate happiness. Often they praise Venus, the goddess of love, but they never allude to marriage or to children in the course of their secretive romance which they guard from public knowledge. Courtly love separates romance from marriage and its many responsibilities allowing love to become infused with passionate poetry and enticing allure. Their love story that once exalted the beauty of their romance and their own ecstasy falls from top to bottom when the two experience a turn of fortune that parts the lovers. Because neither of the lovers pledged fidelity or marriage to one another, their courtly love amounts to nothing except Troilus’s broken heart and Criseyde’s new lover Diomede.
Believing courtly love to be more ideal than matrimonial love the two lovers, Troilus and Criseyde, consider it to be a better alternative to marriage. Courtly love elevates the deadly sin of lust to the status of idealized erotic passion that marital love with its many duties simply does not allow. It differs from the pedestrian marital love and from the ignoble practice of prostitution. Owing to the fact that several nobles endorsed courtly love, it became an untruthful appearance of of pure, exalted love that gives it an seductive fascination and rescued it from the subservient quality of married love. Just as the love story of Troilus and Criseyde ended in broken hearts and abandoned loves, the lies of courtly love collapse in the center of the exigencies of daily life.
Courtly love, despite its false promises and pretence of pure love is not love that is meant to last.