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The Romance of Tristan

The Romance of Tristan

by Béroul

Fate and Free Will Theme

The love potion that Tristan and Yseut drink in The Romance of Tristan makes them powerless to resist their feelings for one another or to act any differently from how they proceed to act. It completely removes the element of choice from love. Even after it wears off, however, Tristan and Yseut continue to love one another, suggesting that in this story, love really is fated. This conception of love frees our hero and heroine from blame, for if they didn't choose to love one another, all the bad things that happen because of their love simply can't be their fault.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Why do Tristan and Yseut fall in love? How do these circumstances reinforce the idea of love as fated?
  2. Does The Romance of Tristan leave any room for the possibility of free will in life? Why, or why not?
  3. What does Frocin do when he reads his fate in the stars? How do his actions complicate the idea of fate?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Romance of Tristan portrays love as fated, rather than as a freely made choice.

The depiction of love as fated frees Tristan and Yseut of blame for the problems their love causes.

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