Addicted to Love


Addicted to Love
In Gottfried Von Strassburg?s retelling of the ancient romance, Tristan, love?s portrayal as a psychological disease is considerable. For Rivalin and Blancheflor, Tristan and Isolde, and also King Mark, the affliction causes them to act in a way that they would normally shun. Love changes the perspective on life of those who become intoxicated by its power; whether it?s shared as a couple or entirely unreciprocated, the lust to attain and secure its presence is consuming.
Love?s torment of Tristan and Isolde is a sweet torment that "noble lovers" endure. Grieves are shared, blessings are doubled, and embraces are electrifying on both the physical and emotional levels. One sided love is a hell like no other. Here, passions of the heart will override the sensibilities of the mind. This agony filled state is where Mark?s resides. This theme of unreturned love is as relevant today as it is in Gottfried?s time. Mark?s perception of the world, mentally and even at times physically, is greatly skewed by love?s drunken haze. Broken on the wheel of love, Mark?s heart is tortured until he confesses that Isolde is unfaithful; then just as cruel, he is fooled into believing she is his. This repeated scenario of torture is by far the highest tragedy in the romance. The climax of the abuse is when Mark questions his own senses after the discovery of the couple copulating in the garden. Blinded by the violent inebriation of amour, he disavows empirical proof of Isolde?s betrayal. While through the omnipotent narration the reader sees that Isolde never loves Mark, the king is nevertheless betrayed. First of course, he betrays himself. All indication points to the affair. His heart is not a friend at this point for Mark. Isolde?s betrayal goes beyond betrayal of the state; the real issue is that of betraying the heart. It is only through this betrayal that love is able to rape Mark?s psyche. Coupled with the fact that his dearest friend and confidant, Tristan, is embroiled in this nightmare; Mark is to be pitied greatly. Gottfried has Mark suffer the three greatest betrayals a person can encounter: his own, that of his lover?s and that of his friend?s. The love Mark has for both Isolde and Tristan only work against him; for had he been free of love?s grip, he would have trusted his senses and his intuitions.
Although void of all supernatural occurrences, Rivalin and Blancheflor fall as deeply in love as will their unfortunate son. The ultimately fatal addiction to the euphoria is nearly instantaneous. For both Rivalin and Blancheflor the danger involved in consummating their love is twofold. Bearing a bastard child would result not only in the cataclysmic loss of societal position, but quite possibly her death. Rivalin, less prudent then his future son, risks the wrath of an angry Mark by out right eloping with his true love. Under the influence of love?s tyrannical reign, both disregard their reservations and good sense; blinded by passion they escape to Parmenie to be legally wed. Like a wounded cowboy in a classic western film who downs whiskey to avoid the pain of a gunshot wound or snake bite, love appears to ease the pain of Rivalin?s wounds after a battle. Although on what is almost his death, the passion for Blancheflor numbs his hurt and allows Tristan to be conceived.
As perfect lovers, Tristan and Isolde?s addiction to Cupid?s opiate is surpassed by none. This is proven by the trials Brangane endures, the disregard for Isolde?s personal acts of treason, and also the blows to Tristan?s honor and loyalty to his uncle. Once Isolde has the epiphany that the killer of her Uncle Morold is bathing in the next room, she is enraged. However, she is unable to extract revenge on Tristan. Gottfried suggests this is due to a feminine instinct; simply, that Isolde was too refined to commit such an uncouth act. This delicate characterization of Isolde would not last long. Upon the accidental ingestion of the love potion, Isolde is assaulted by the silent waylayer of hearts. Under siege by love, Isolde and Tristan both transform into a creature of love whose only objective is that of self preservation. Support for this is found each time that Gottfried turns to parallelism when describing the couple. This use of language signals the birth of a