T R I S T A N   A N D   I S O L D E

The tale of Tristan and Isolde is a Celtic romance in origin, though there are many versions across Europe but the main story stays the same: Tristan was one of the knights of the Round Table.  He was the son of Blncheflor and Rivalen and the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall.  After being wounded by Isolde of Ireland's fiancé Morold, whom Tristan killed, Tristan is nursed back to health by the fair Isolde.  Sometime later Tristan is sent to fetch Isolde back from Ireland to wed King Mark.  However they fall in love en route.  Although Isolde marries Mark, she and Tristan seek each other out in secret trysts.  Tristan even returns to aid his King Mark, a man he loves, honors and respects even after banishment from the kingdom for adultery.  

 

King Mark is kind to Isolde, loves her as a wife, something he is not obliged to do and he loves Tristan like a son. Mark cannot be singled out to be the villain who keeps true love apart, nor can either Tristan or Isolde be the sole villains who possess simply a vulgar lust; no one can be blamed and the tragedy's weight falls upon all. Also present is the endangerment of a fragile kingdom, the cessation of war between Ireland and England. Though the lovers know their passion will lead to bloodshed and anarchy, they are torn between what they know is right and what they feel is right: their overwhelming love for one another.

 

Eventually Tristan marries Isolde of Brittany, more out of despair that he cannot have the Isolde he desires, and to make King Mark happy at the thought that he might also be happy in a marriage that Mark believes falsely to be true. When Tristan is mortally wounded and only his true love Isolde has the power to cure him as well as the revelation that King Mark has pardoned him and his wife it is Isolde of Brittany that tears apart the lovers forever.  Perhaps it is out of jealousy, despair or her own broken heart Isolde of Brittany watches the window to see if white sails signaling that the original Isolde is arriving to save Tristan's life with her herblore, and tells Tristan that there are black sails, that signaled that Isolde would not come. Believing that he truly has lost his true love forever and that she had abandoned him, Tristan dies. But the sails were white and Isolde had come to save him and to reunite herself with the one man she really truly loved with all of her being.  Of course she finds that after rushing to his chamber that he had died believing she abandoned him, and no longer loved him, just a moment before.  Seeing her love dead, Isolde sets his body to sea in a boat not unlike the one she found him in.  Some say she joined him on that boat, dying of a broken heart only to be united with Tristan in the afterlife, while others simply say she just disappeared.


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