Consequences of Passion Exposed in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
The story of Tristan and Iseult celebrates the triumph of adultery. When looking vaguely at this romance, readers may think the potion of love that they both drink is the one that makes them to commit adultery. However, this is only a representation of the power of passion and lust Tristan and Iseult have for each other.
To better understand this love story, one must realize that Tristan is a marshal hero who volunteers to take a battle against the King of Ireland, in order to redeem the people and the monarch of King Mark. It would therefore, be suitable to say that King Mark has given his nephew the trust to accomplish the mammoth exercise. In Ireland, Tristan faces the challenge of killing a beast that has terrorized the community, and the reward for this is to gain Iseult -- the daughter of the king. Indeed, Tristan’s military prowess earns him the honor of taking Iseult as a wife to King Mark. Tristan is kind and gentle in his speech of promise about reverence that the would-be-queen is entitled to in Cornwall upon their arrival.
Iseult’s mother gives stern instructions to Tristan concerning the wedding night of King Mark and Iseult, and believing that Tristan as a nephew to the king would honor such promises.
Child, it is yours to go with Iseult to King Mark’s country, for you love her with a faithful love. Take then this pitcher and remember well my words. Hide it so that no eye shall see nor no lip go near it: but when the wedding night has come and that moment in which the wedded are left alone, pour this essenced wine into a cup and offer it to King Mark and to Iseult his queen. Oh! Take all care, my child, that they alone shall taste this brew. For this is its power: they who drink of it together love each other with their every single sense and with their every thought, forever, in life and in death. (368)
This is where the story of Tristan and Iseult takes a twist because the reader knows enough that Tristan, if given the chance, would like to have Iseult for himself. It is fascinating therefore, when Iseult’s mother entrusts Tristan with the potion of love that should only be shared between King Mark and Iseult. By this time, Tristan and Iseult have developed passion in each other, and the potion they would drink only enhances the chemistry that is already existent. To not drink the potion, which Tristan knows would cause Iseult to love him even more, is attempting to remain dishonest to his true self. Tristan is not just an ordinary man; he is a war hero seducing the would-be- queen of Cornwall....