Beroul simultaneously celebrate and damn adultery through two characters namely
Tristan and Yseut. After Tristan is shot with a poisoned arrow, he sails to unknown lands in such
of a healer. Miraculously, he sails to Ireland where the King’s daughter, Yseut, offers him a cure.
After his return home, Tristan sails again to Ireland but this time in search of a life companion. It
is during this time that he fights and defeats a dragon that had terrorized people for quite long. In
the process, he suffers a serious wound. Yseut once again heals Tristan. As a reward for killing
the dragon, Tristan is offered Yseut in return. He decides to give Yseut to King Mark after he
returns home from Ireland.
Before leaving, the Queen gives Brangain, Yseut’s maid, a love portion which she should
give to Mark and Yseut on the day of their wedding. While sailing, Brangain accidentally gives
the love portion to Tristan and Yseut, thinking that it was good wine: “Both thought it was good
wine.” The love portion causes the Tristan and Yseut to deeply fall in love. In order to conceal
what had transpired, Yseut asks her maid to take her place during the wedding night. Brangain
agrees and the plans go as anticipated without Mark realizing any mischief. This marks the
beginning of adultery. Even though Tristan and Yseut are under the influence of a love portion,
lust and passion have overwhelmed them. Soon, Yseut becomes betrothed to Mark.
Tristan and Yseut continue to meet secretly without the knowledge of the king. They
continue with the affair they had until the King’s barons suspect foul play on Tristan’s side.
Mark plans to catch the two with the aid of his barons. However, his plans are thwarted when
Tristan and Yseut realize that Mark is secretly watching them. They immediately begin
lamenting how Mark thinks they are lovers, eventually convincing the King that they are not.
This is another celebration of adultery by Beroul. Mark is aware of the rendezvous between
Tristan and Yseut, yet they somehow manage to outwit him. Yseut forestalls Mark, giving the
ANALYSIS OF ROMANCE OF TRISTAN 3
king the opinion that what he had been led to believe was a lie. She says: “The king thinks I have
been wicked enough to love you”. Beroul uses commentary as a way of guiding the readers’
sympathies and to make it more comprehensible.
Not thoroughly convinced, some barons hatch another plot to catch Tristan. When he
moves to Yseut’s bed in the cover of darkness, his wound opens and he begin to bleed profusely
on the bed and on the floor. Mark is now convinced of the adulterous ways of Yseut. He
condemns both to death but they narrowly manage to escape. Beroul employs the narrator point
of view as a foreshadowing of the events to come. For instance she writes: “…..there were three
barons – you never saw wicked men!” This foreshadows a turning of events. At this juncture,
Beroul damns adultery and shows the readers that such actions will ultimately lead to dire
consequences. Adultery was a sin, and had to be punished. Beroul is omnipotent in the story,
telling the readers what to expect before it happens.
ANALYSIS OF ROMANCE OF TRISTAN 4
Beroul. The Romance of Tristan. Penguin Books