Cressida is a young lady of Troy, under her uncle Pandarus’s guardianship since her father Calchas defected to the Greeks.
Quick-witted, she is able to trade barbs with Pandarus on his own level, but her sauciness may be a defense mechanism. Life with Pandarus clearly consists mostly of mockery, and she is weary of this. Though attracted to Troilus, she holds off on giving in to him to make sure that he means it, until she is essentially handed over to him by her uncle. Given to the Greeks the next morning, she refuses to go, but with Troilus not even considering the possibility she has little option but to agree. Along with this lack of help, Troilus’s clumsy questioning of her faithfulness and presumption that she will be quick to betray him leave her with little reason to stick by him once she is handed over. Surrounded by a pack of sex-hungry Greeks who insist on all kissing her, she uses her only weapon, her attractiveness, to gain some measure of ascendance on them, though with the result that she is immediately considered no better than a whore. Her father apparently presumes that she will take up with some Greek or other, and she sees little other option. She feels bad about betraying Troilus, but is in an impossible situation, and in the end allows Diomedes to take Troilus’s love-token from her. Cressida knows how to play men, and enjoys putting them down, but whether she is a natural flirt or merely puts the disposition on is uncertain. She is also often defensive. Cressida is fully aware that in this very masculine world her sexuality is her only advantage and power, and acts on the fact.