Tristan & Isolde and Courtly Love

587 Words3 Pages
The movie Tristan and Isolde, directed by Kevin Reynolds, depicts courtly love of the medieval times. Courtly love consists of five essential elements that are characterized within the movie. The love must be aristocratic, ritualistic, secretive, adulterous, and literary (Simpson). Before becoming a real-life activity, courtly love was popular among songs and fables of knights and adored ladies. All of these elements are apparent within the story of Tristan and Isolde. The first element we see in the movie is that the affair is between two aristocratic people. Tristan was taken in by King Marke as a young boy and is one of the strongest knights in England (Reynolds). Isolde is the princess of Ireland. The movie takes place within palace walls for much of the affair. The aristocratic nature of the relationship was a favorite in medieval stories because common people were intrigued by the lives of the nobility (Simpson). The aristocratic aspect of the relationship between Tristan and Isolde gives way to the adultery and need for secrecy that is kept up between them. Even upon their first meeting a major secret is kept. Tristan is led to believe that Isolde is only a hand maid, not of any royalty (Reynolds). Once aware that Isolde is a princess, the two must still keep the relationship a secret for Isolde has been married to King Marke (Reynolds). “Fine love” almost definitively means it is extra-marital (Simpson). This turns the relationship into an adulterous affair, another requirement of courtly love (Simpson). Tristan and Isolde meet secretly numerous times while she is married to King Marke. The adulterous aspect of the relationship gives suspense in the story because the audience is fearful that they may be caught, which most times would lead to death. This is also a reason why the relationship must be so secretive. The ritualistic acts of courtly
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