The metaphorical and literal representation of intimate interpersonal physicality in Troilus and Criseyde has been shaped by critical interpretations that assume natural sexual behavior to be progressive, hierarchical, and consummative. Removing Troilus and Criseyde's affair from the constraints of a “sexual” narrative unveils an alternative Middle English metaphorical language of embodied desire that disrupts modern expectations of arousal. This article promotes a methodological initiative in the cultural development and understanding of embodied feelings, especially those related to arousal, in order to respond to the poetic construction of an ethically-engaged love-prone reader in the medieval poem. By focusing on the depiction of intimacy and desire in Book III, this article queries the narrative basis of sexual intercourse as a consummation-driven activity, and the teleological basis of sexual intercourse as a manifestation of biological purpose or a matter of “human nature.”

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