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Themes

In The Romance of Tristan, Tristan and Yseut don't fall in love at first sight. In fact, they might not have fallen in love at all were it not for the influence of a magical love potion they drink by mistake. Once that's done, though, the effects of the potion make them throw it all away for the sake of love. When the potion wears off, Tristan and Yseut love each other like friends or a brother and sister might. It doesn't take long, though, for it to ignite once more into good old-fashioned romantic passion. The easiness with which Tristan and Yseut slide back and forth between the two types of love may suggest that the distance between them isn't as far as it seems.

Questions About Love

  1. What different types of love do we see in the Romance of Tristan? How are they related to one another?
  2. How is Tristan and Yseut's love different after the potion wears off? Do they love one another as much as ever? Why or why not?
  3. What language and figures of speech do Tristan and Yseut use to express the way their love feels? Do they make love seem like a good thing? Why or why not?
  4. What other love-pairings occur in The Romance of Tristan? How do these "love affairs" end? How do they mirror the love between Tristan and Yseut? How do they make us think differently about Tristan and Yseut's love?

Chew on This

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

Tristan and Yseut's love is stronger before the love potion wears off.

or

Tristan and Yseut's love remains as strong as ever after the love potion wears off.

The Romance of Tristan portrays being in love as an unenviable state that only causes suffering for everyone involved.

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