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Love in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult.

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Introduction

Rachel Andrews W00212032 HIST 112 11/6/03 Love in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult In medieval literature, love and marriage are portrayed as separate subjects. Marriage in that time was an institution of duty, restriction, and convention. Love, in contradiction to Marriage, is idealized as chivalric, adventurous, and what all women truly long for. When literature at that time began to introduce the concept of romantic love, the idea of it occurring between a husband and wife was rarely utilized in stories. As in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, romantic love occurs not between Iseult and her betrothed husband King Mark, but with his most trusted vassal, Tristan. The concept appealed to many upper-class women who found themselves in dutiful marriages void of any real love. ...read more.

Middle

Tristan himself won from her father by defeating a dragon - rightfully, Iseult belonged to him, but his duty was to bring her back to wed Mark, and at this time his love for Mark overrode any inklings of romantic love he was beginning to feel for Iseult. The romantic love between the two developed from a magic potion in which they both drank. It could have been real magic that created love between them, or it may have been just an intoxicating liquor that made them realize their true feelings for each other. Whatever it was, this new love was to contradict all other kinds of love, become a forbidden secret, and forever bound them together in fate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Romances like Tristan and Iseult nearly always ended in tragedy. The concept of romantic love was popular in fiction and was idealized as the ultimate satisfaction of the self, but these stories make death the eventual outcome of such love. This tells us that at the time of these stories, duty to your family and lord still took the highest precedence. Fulfilling your duty as a wife or a vassal would get you a satisfying physical life, you would be taken care of, respected and die honourably. Carrying out individual desires in hopes of emotional fulfillment would bring about misery, shame and unhonourable death. Romance stories gave people a fantasy to live out in their minds, while at the same time giving an explicit warning that such fantasy was never to become reality. ...read more.

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