Tristan And Iseult Essay, Research Paper
Two Hearts that Beat as One
What causes two people in a relationship to be caught in an emotional roller coaster? There are many answers to this question. In the book, -The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, by Joseph Bedier, Tristan and Iseult had a relationship that can only be explained psychologically and spiritually. From the beginning of Tristans’ childhood, he was born of misfortune that seemed to cycle throughout his life. His father died and his mother abandoned him because she did not survive his birth. When he had a relationship with Iseult, they were constantly separated from each other. Tristans’ longing for contact with Iseult is a reflection of his childhood relationships. Based on psychoanalysis, throughout Tristans’ life, he experiences attachment and separation.
Adults convey different attachment styles that determine their behavior in love relationships. Since Tristan was abandoned by his parents, unable to create a bond with his mother, Governal and Rohalt provided psychological needs, especially security, to reached out as an attachment figure to him. In Psychology Today, “Love:The Immutable Longing for Contact” by Susan Johnson, John Bowlby states “The deep sense of security that develops fosters in the infant enough confidence to begin exploring the surrounding world, making excursions into it, and developing relationships with others”(Johnson 34). Tristan definitely illustrates the security mentioned above. He was taken care of, loved, treated like their own son, and he was prepared to visit other lands. During his trip he immediately initiated a relationship with King Mark. Not knowing Tristan was his nephew, he was mesmerized by his voice and playing of the harp, they were able to relate to each other and welcomed him into his home.
The soul was also involved in attachment because it plays a role in relationships. In Psychology Today:”Soul Mates by Thomas Moore, “Relatedness means living with the particular individuals who come into our lives, and not only with our ideals and images of the perfect family” (Moore 28). The King trusted Tirstan’s soul to welcome the stranger into his life. Tristan accepted his invitation and felt connected to the King. Considering his biological father died the King was of a father figure to him.
Based on psychology, our feelings and emotions of love have derived from past experiences. Tristan and Iseult supposedly fell in love spontaneously because of the potion they drank. I disagree with that statement because De Rougemont believes the “potion was just an alibi for passion” (48). There were signs in the story they were interested in each other, such as the incident when she was taking him a bath after being injured from killing the Morholt.
Her glance lingered on the face of the wounded man; she saw that he was beautiful and thought to herself, ”Truly, if his prowess equals his beauty, my champion will fight a brave battle”. . Tristan looked at her, and as he looked at her he thought “So I have found the Queen of the Hair of Gold,” and he smiled as he thought of it. (Bedier 32)
The incident above proves they both felt feelings for each other even without accidentally drinking potion. Considering this story is a myth, the potion was to blame for their actions. The lovers insists that they have been in no way to blame for everything they had done. Their passion is not acknowledged to society (it is looked upon as criminal) , and not to themselves because it condemns them to die.
Tristan was physically attached to Iseult from the moment he had contact with her. Iseult was there to help him when he was injured, not only once but twice! According to Johnson, “The core elements of love is the need to feel that somebody is emotionally there for you, that you can make contact with a another person who will respond to you, particularly if you are in need.” (36) Iseult was physically there to heal Tristan’s sore wounds from two different battles. He won two different battles, the dragon and Morholt. Considering he had killed her uncle, she had the choice not to heal him, but obviously she had found love and not recognize it.
Tristan feels an emotional bond between his relationship with Iseult and King Mark but decides to separate from her. As much as Tristan does not want to give Iseult to King Mark, he feels she is living like a slave. Tristan realizes her situation with him in this thought, “But in this wood, she lives a slave, and I waste her youth. . .she has this savage place. . .I am the cause that she treads this ugly road.”(Bedier 104) He admits that Iseult is King Marks’ wife and can provide a better lifestyle than he can when they are living in the middle of the woods. It is very obvious Tristan wants what is best for Iseult because he does not want her to struggle in the woods any longer.
Tristan and Iseult are almost departing from one another until Iseult insists on keeping contact with each other. Even though Iseult will eventually be with King Mark in great distance, she is planning ahead to seek Tristan.. Just as Johnson explains adjusting to distance, Iseult expresses her communication to Tristan by rewarding him with a Jasper ring. “In attachment as we come to understand that the expression of emotion is primary communication in relationships its how we adjust to closeness and distance.” (36) The ring is very significant and symbolic because it is of a rememberance of Iseult on Tristan’s ring. The ring is also important because it is the only way she can identify the Tristan’s real messenger when he shows the ring.
Tristan was wildly in love when he had parted with his Iseult. Psychologically speaking, the romance in the repeated partings of these lovers is altogether the necessity of their passion. When Tristan wanders away from her, he yearns for her love, and the more he loves her, the more he was afflicted. Tristan states, “The farther off I am the more I long for her.” (Bedier 79) The real purpose of the partings was to produce suffering. The more he loves, the more he wants to be rejected by love. Strongly, he wants to be rejected that he doubts her love for him, and commits himself to marrying the other Iseult. “Out of tension, may come a way of being attached and separate at the same time. . intellectually and emotionally hold both sides at once.” (Moore 29) This quote exactly describes the way Tristan feels towards Iseult because he had set up the obstruction, and he no longer can overcome his emotions. He was attached to Iseult the Fair, then separated from her, and as the cycle continues, he was attached to Iseult the of the White Hands.
Tristan experiences a continual cycle of attachment and separation on the basis of his childhood experiences which later developed into his adult relationships. Whenever he had sought a relationship, with either his caretaker Rohalt, or his uncle King Mark, or even Iseult the Fair and of the White Hands, he would attach himself emotionally to them then separate from them because he was threatened by others separating from him, so he did it beforehand. He was also going through an identity crisis, trying to find his true self and knowing what was best for him. He had loved the people had relationships with but most importantly he learned to love himself when he was ultimately seperated from Iseult the Fair. On a psychological point of view, he experienced the continuing affections from others because it was a survival need. From infancy to maturity love needs to be present at all times. Love is a solid force for challenging the obstacles in life.
Bedier, Joseph. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. New York, 1994
De Rougemont, Denis. Love in the Western World. New York, New York. 1956
Johnson, Susan. “Love: The Immublable Longing for Contact.” Psychology Today
p. 32-37. V 27 n 2
Moore, Thomas. “Soul Mate.” Psychology Today. March/April 1994