Tristan & Iseult & Ywain & Laudine

 
 
 
 
This study will compare and contrast Tristan and Iseult (in the anonymously-authored The Romance of Tristan and Iseult) to Ywain and Laudine (in Chretien de Troyes, Ywain, The Knight of the Lion).

There are clearly two immediate points in which the similarity and difference between are exemplified. In the first place, both pairs of lovers are completely in love with one another. In the second place, with respect to a fundamental difference, is the fact that Ywain and Laudine experience a happy ending after much suffering, while Tristan and Iseult experience death and utter tragedy.

The tragedy of Tristan and Iseult is summarized in the opening paragraph of the book: "My lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and of death, here is that of Tristan and Queen Iseult; how to their full joy, but to their sorrow also, they loved each other, and how at last, they died of that love together upon one day; she by him and he by her" (Tristan 11).

Tristan and Iseult are the victims as much of the enemies of their love as they are of that dangerously passionate love itself. They are tricked into serving as an instrument of one another's death. They both die, in fact, of broken hearts. Tristan hears that the ship he has been waiting for has hoisted a black sail, which means it is not bringing Iseult to him. It is a lie, but he believes it, and his love for her is so strong that he can no longer live: "'I cannot keep this life of mine any longer.' He said three times: 'Is

     
 
 
 
    

 

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