MONOLOGUE IN THE TRISTAN OF THOMAS
RUTHMARIE HAMBURGE MITSCH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I should like to express my appreciation to Professor
George T. Diller, whose scholastic ideals have influenced
me greatly. My thanks go to Professor Diller for the
guidance and encouragement he gave me during this study.
I am also grateful to Professor Douglas A. Bonneville and
to Professor Paul T. Thurston for their time and valuable
suggestions. I owe special thanks to Professor Claude K.
Abraham for assistance he gave me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKN'l O'LEDGM,[ENTS . . . . . . . . ..
KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . .
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . .
PART I. A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE LITERARY TRADITION
OF MONOLOGUE . . . . . . .
Definition and General Discussion
of Monologue . . . . . . .
Monologue in Selected Classical Authors
lMonologue in Selected Twelfth-Century
PART I I.
Literature . . . . . .
AN ANALYSIS OF THE MONOLOGUES IN TlE
TRISTAN OF THOMAS . . . . .
Sneyd1 5-182 . . . . .
Sneyd 411-588 . . . . .
Douce, 1615-94 . . . . .
Douce, 1760-70 .
Douce, 1811-15; Sneyd 783-808 .
EMPHASIS ON MONOLOGUE SEEN IN OTHER
NARRATIVE ELEMENTS OF THE TRISTAN
OF THOMAS . . . . . . .
Dialogue . . . . . . .
Description . . . . . .
Narrator-to-Audience . . . .
Third-Person Narration . . .
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . .
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . .. .
. . 57
* . 58
S. . 118
. .. 131
KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS
C.: Cambridge Manuscript
D.: Douce Manuscript
Sn.l: First Sneyd Fragment
Sn.2: Second Sneyd Fragment
T.1: First Turin Fragment
T.2: Second Turin Fragment
Str.l: First Strasbourg Fragment
Str.2: Second Strasbourg Fragment
Str.3: Third Strasbourg Fragment
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
MONOLOGUE IN THE TRISTAN OF THOMAS
Ruthmarie Hamburge Mitsch
Chairman: George T. Diller
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures (French)
Since interiorization is the direction of the Roman de
Tristan by Thomas and the interior monologue is the medium
of this interiorization, the monologues deserve to be in-
vestigated. In this dissertation, I attempt an approach
to this work through the study of monologue.
The first part is intended as background. After a
brief definition of monologue, I look at the interior mono-
logue in such classical authors as Homer, Apollonius of
Rhodes, Virgil, and Ovid, before turning to twelfth-century
literature. I also briefly discuss how the use of mono-
logue in twelfth-century literature reflected the subjec-
tivity and interiorization seen in courtly poetry and how
it parallels both the movement toward self-examination en-
couraged by such religious figures as Bernard de Clairvaux
and the analysis of love by the so-called "courts of love."
Then, I look at the individual monologues in the Tristan
of Thomas. The first two by Tristan are complementary and
need to be considered each in the light of the other. The
first is an elaborate pose which responds to his self-fabri-
cated dilemma by rationalizing his desire to seek pleasure
with another as an act of remembrance and love for Iseut.
In the second, the facade falls as he realizes his folly.
The other three monologues are more emotional and pathetic,
centering on the lovers' deaths. None of the monologues is
a gratuitous rhetorical exercise; each is a successful at-
tempt to convey the states of mind of Tristan and Iseut--the
focal points of Thomas' tale.
In the third part, I study other elements of narrative.
Dialogue most effectively conveys forces at work against the
lovers and thus acts as a foil for monologue because it
brings about their isolation. There is little visual de-
scription in the poem. Thomas does not dilute the intensity
of Tristan and Iseut's feelings by cluttering his work with
long, ornamental descriptions common to other poems of the
period. I determine that Thomas, by his interventions, in-
cites his public's involvement in the poem; his critical
comments and his epilogue direct us to a fuller sharing in
the experiences of Tristan and Iseut. Analysis is not pro-
nounced to the degree that is often claimed; it relies on the
monologues and acts as a guide only in situations where we
cannot expect the characters to be fully aware of all the
implications of their thoughts and feelings. Thomas is not
concerned with the recit; the tale is familiar to his audi-
ence, so he is able to emphasize, instead, interior activity.
Thus, other elements of narrative accommodate the drive to
unlock the interior world through monologue.
The Roman de Tristan by the Anglo-Norman poet Thomas
enjoyed immense popularity during the Middle Ages, as is
witnessed by those works which claim or manifest its di-
rect influence--the late twelfth-century Folie Tristan
d'Oxford which is also contained in the Douce manuscript
and immediately follows the Tristan of Thomas; the thir-
teenth-century Norwegian Saga by Brother Robert; the Tristan
und Isolde of Gottfried von Strassburg which has, we are
forced to admit, eclipsed the fame of its immediate source;
the English Sir Tristrem; a portion of the Italian Tavola
ritonda. Unfortunately, Thomas' status today is not what
it was then. That is not to say, however, that he has
been discarded by modern critics. A brief look at the
Tristan scholarship of this century will reveal the roles
assigned to the text of Thomas. It is my opinion that the
work of Thomas deserves more attention and that he should
be elevated from his present rank. Undoubtedly one im-
pediment to his widespread appreciation is the condition
of his tale. In dealing with the text of Thomas, the
critic must work with mere fragments. Immediately a clue
to a certain reluctance on the part of the critics to work
with Thomas becomes apparent. Nevertheless, the fragments
yield a substantial 3,169 lines. Eight fragments are
available from five manuscripts--Cambridge (C.), Douce
(D.), Sneyd (Sn.l and Sn.2), Turin (T.1 and T.2), and
Strasbourg (Str.1, Str.2, and Str.3). The Turin manu-
script is presently lost or inexistent and that of Stras-
bourg was claimed by fire in 1870.
It would be helpful to survey briefly critical ap-
proaches and attitudes toward the Tristan of Thomas. Much
study has been devoted to the origin-research. Rosemary
Picozzi discerns several basic periods in the history of
this branch of Tristan scholarship. The first period com-
prises the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries
in which identification of the geographical sources of ro-
mances wa\ the aim of scholars; in general, the Tristan
tale was known only indirectly. During the Romantic era
when scholars were armed with first-hand familiarity, true
Tristan scholarship emerged and began to take several
directions. Some critics were concerned with establishing
an historical basis for the tale. Others, who dominated
the critical scene through the first part of the nine-
teenth century, treated the story in light of ancient
mythologies. Both parties then generally accepted French
as the original written language of the tale, although
1A History of Tristan Scholarship (Bern and Frankfurt:
HerEert Lang and Co., 1971), pp. 11-59.
this belief was to provide controversy later. The Ro-
mantics were interested in "the poetic and philological
renewal of medieval literature rather than in a discussion
of its prehistory," while their successors accorded "over-
weening importance to the historical development of the
material." This new emphasis on source studies engendered
often heated debates regarding the first introduction of
the love motif. It was in the early twentieth century
that reconstructions of the original--supposedly oral--
legend and first romance were begun. It was then postu-
lated that rather than being an example of the Lieder-
theorie of earlier Tristan scholars, the original romance
was the literary work of a single poet, sometime between
1066 and the end of the twelfth century and was the common
source for most, possibly all, of the versions we know.
Following this period of origin-research came a period of
interpretation in terms of Zeitgeist. Emphasis on the
tale's development outweighed the question of its origin
in the minds of these scholars. Two studies of our time
return to the question of origins. James Carney (Studies
in Irish Literature and History, Dublin: Dublin Institute
of Advanced Studies, 1955) and Sigmund Eisner (The Tristan
Legend: A Study in Sources, Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern
Univ. Press, 1969) both postulate the existence of a writ-
ten North British poem prior to 800 A.D.3
2bid., pp. 57-58.
Ibid., pp. 11-59. Chapter One is more general in scope
The nineteenth century produced some important studies
bearing directly upon Thomas. Between 1835 and 1839,
Francisque .hichel published the three voliWme Tristan;
recueil de ce qui reste des poemes relatifs a ses ventures
(London: .',1lliam Pickering), making available the different
versions of the tale to a public which knew the tale for
the most part indirectly, if at all. Almost a half-century
later, ''llhelm Rbttiger published Der Tristan des Thomas;
ein Beitr-a zur Kritik und Sprache desselben (Gbttingen:
W. Fr. Kaestner, 1883) which is primarily a source study.
Francisco Novati added to the storehouse of Tristan
knowledge with his study entitled "Un nuovo ed un vecchio
frammento del Tristan di Tommaso" which appeared in Studi
di filologia romanza, 2 (1887), 369-515. The fragments are
those of the manuscript of Turin and they appear along
with Novati's critical commentary.
The monumental Tristan study is that of Joseph Bedier.
In 1902, B6dier published Le Roman de Tristan par Thomas
(Paris: Firmin-Didot, SATF), this first volume being an
edition of the extant fragments complemented by a recon-
struction of lost parts based upon textual comparisons of
Thomas' remanieurs. In the fifth chapter of his second vol-
ume (Paris: Firmin-Didot, SATF, 1905), Bedier exposes his
while Chapters Two, Three and Four are directed particularly
to Gottfried scholarship. Chapter One (pp. 11-59) details
critical thought regarding the Tristan legend since the
late seventeenth century. Picozzi herself is interested in
the genesis of the romance, with particular emphasis on
belief in an archetypal poem whose beauty and excellence
the later poems failed to match. The composer of the
archetypal poem was a true creator--working with the Celtic
legend, he imposed on it the moral code which created the
conflict between the adulterous love and the law. In
the seventh chapter of the same volume, Bedier proposes
this archetype episode by episode, using as his sources
the versions of Beroul, Thomas, Eilhart, the early thir-
teenth-century roman en prose, and the Folie Tristan de
At the same time that Bedier was preparing his re-
construction, another Tristan scholar, Wolfgang Golther,
was busy, independently, at the same project (published
later in 1907 in Leipzig by S. Hirsel, entitled Tristan
und Isolde in der franzbsischen und deutschen Dichtung
des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit). Following their studies,
criticism then focused upon a common literary source.
Gertrude Schoepperle criticized the methods used by B6dier
and reconstructed her "estoire" from Eilhart's version
(Tristan and Isolt; A Study of the Sources, 2 vols., Frank-
furt: Baer, 1913; 2nd ed. New York: Burt Franklin, 1963).
Friedrich Ranke intended to reproduce the story in its
various phases and forms (Tristan und Isold, Munich:
Bruckmann, 1925), showing the reflections of the "changing
4bid., p. 51.
Much study of Thomas has been comparative in nature.
The comparisons have involved Thomas and Beroul, Thomas
and Gottfried, as well as Chretien de Troyes. One very
early (in this century) study is that of F. Piquet,
L'OrAiinalite de Gottfried de Strasbourg dans son poeme
de Tristan et Isolde (Travaax et Memoirec de 1'Universite
de Lille, Fasicule 5, Lille, 1905). (Piquet 'as to be one
of many who show the excellence of Gottfried's poem at the
expense of Thomas.) Later, in 1935, Aaltje Dijksterhuis
compared the two poets in Thomas und Gottfried: Ihre
konstruktiven Sprachformen (Munich: Max Hueber) and was
followed by S. Singer in 1947 ("Thomas von Britannien und
Gottfried von Strassburg," in Festschrift Edouard Tieche,
Bern: 1947, pp. 87-101).
Because of the five Thomases of the twelfth century,5
another critical issue concerns the identity of our poet
Thomas. Francisque Michel first posed the possibility of
the same author for the Tristan and the Roman de Horn et
Rimel since both indicate a Thomas as author. V!. Sbder-
hjelm's article, "Sur l'identite du Thomas auteur de Tristan
et du Thomas auteur de Horn," Romania, 15 (1886), 575-96,
was an attempt to disprove Michel's suggestion. F. Lot
picked up the thread of arguments in his article, "Sur
les deux Thomas, poetes anglo-normands du XIIe siecle,"
"See Bartina H. Wind, "Nos incertitudes au sujet du Tristan
de Thomas," in Melanges de langue et de literature du Moyen
Ace et de la Renais~nnce offers a Jean Frappier (Geneva:
Droz, 1970 II, 1129-3.,.
Romania, 53 (1927), 177-86. He studies the similarities
and questions why should there be two Thomases when under
parallel conditions elsewhere we do not have two B6rouls,
two Chr6tiens or two Gottfrieds . . According to the
most recent editor of Thomas, Bartina H. Wind, the Thomas of
Horn is not the poet of Tristan, and Wind also explains away
other Thomases in question, asserting, too, that contempo-
rary Tristan specialists accept the name "Thomas, l'Anglais"
as the distinctive title of the Tristan poet.
The question of the relationship of Thomas' Tristan
and Chr6tien de Troyes' Cliges has occupied many a scholar,
for example Ernest Hoepffner, "Chr6tien de Troyes et Thomas
d'Angleterre," Romania, 55 (1929), 1-16 and Alexandre Micha,
"Tristan et Cliges," Neophilologus, 36 (1952), 1-10.
Margaret Pelan undertook a study entitled L'Influence du
Brut de Wace sur les romanciers francais de son temps
(Paris: Droz, 1931; pages 71-97 bear upon Thomas).
B6roul and Thomas comparisons go without saying. But
some of the better ones are those of Pierre Le Gentil, "La
Legende de Tristan vue par Beroul et Thomas; essai d'inter-
pretation," Romance Philology, 7 (1953-54), 111-29, and Jean
Frappier, "Structure et sens du Tristan: version commune,
version courtoise," Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale,
6 (1963), 255-80 and 441-54. The most important and some-
what controversial book to be published treating both
Beroul and Thomas as .vell as the two Folies is Fierre
Jonin's Les Personnages feminins dans les romans francals
de Tristan au XIIe siecle (Gap: Publications des Annales de
la Faculty des Lcttres d'Aix-en-Provence, nouvelle series,
no. 22, 1958). Jonin's purpose is to demonstrate the
originality of the French text vis-a-vis Eilhart, author of
the oldest German version, and to distinguish, then, the
influence of history, contemporary literature, and the
religious climate in the French versions--through the female
characters. He questions the traditional labels--Thomas,
"courtly" and Beroul, "common." Others have been piqued
by his intriguing assertions, so that a recent trend has
been towards the determination of a courtly or non-courtly
character of Thomas (and Eeroul). One of the most pro-
vocative of these studies has been Eva Rozgonyi's "Four
une approche d'un Tristan non-courtois" in the I.'elances
offers a Rene Crozet edited by Pierre Gallais and Yves-
Jean Riou (Poitiers: Societe d'Etudes Medi6vales, 1966,
Thus, there has been no dearth of criticism on the
Tristan of Thomas. Valeria Bertolucci Pizzorusso, in her
research entitled "La retorica nel Tristano di Thomas" in
Studi mediolatini e volgari, 6-7 (1959), 25-61, points out
that study contributing to the individualization of the
particular poets and their works has been minimal (p. 26).
It is her purpose to analyze rhetoric in Thomas. She
dissects the fragments to list and categorize their use of
rhetoric. Occasionally she elaborates on the purposes of
a specific rhetorical figure in a specific line, but this
is not necessarily essential to her plan of showing the
scholastic influence in the Tristan of Thomas.
In his first volume of Le Courant r6aliste dans le
roman courtois en France au Moyen Age (Paris: Nizet, 1960),
Anthime Fourrier devotes Chapter One (pp. 19-109) to "Le
Tristan de Thomas d'Angleterre." Fourrier's accent is pri-
marily upon the historical realities reflected in the work.
Omer Jodogne focuses on Thomas' treatment of the love
of the hero and heroine in his excellent study, "Comment
Thomas d'Angleterre a compris l'amour de Tristan et Iseut,"
Lettres Romanes, 19 (1965), 103-19.
Tristan research continues as strong as ever, if not
stronger. But Pizzorusso's statement is still justified--
the poets and their works need to be considered individually.
Two fine Tristan studies have appeared recently that depart
from the traditional moulds of origin-source study and com-
parisons. Alberto Varvaro's Il "Roman de Tristran" di
Beroul was first published in 1963 (Turin: Bottega
d'Erasmo), but has now been made available to a larger
public by the translation of John C. Barnes, Beroul's
Romance of Tristran (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press;
1972). In the Postscript, dated 1971, Varvaro responds to
a criticism of Frappier that he has bound himself too tightly
to the examination of B6roul without considering the parallel
version, by saying:
I am willing to admit that today I would make wider
use of Eilhart and also of the other texts of the
legend, though still seeking to preserve a clear
distinction between the examination of Beroul and
the examination of the tradition of which he is a
part. The correct identification of the message
certainly involves fitting it into its context and,
just an I sought to take the social, emotional and
literary context into account, it is necessary to
give due weight to the more immediate context, which
is precisely the tradition of the Tristram poems.
Varvaro, burdened with the problem of authorship, began with
the premise that his text is a unitary work and then pro-
ceeded to analyze that text. Despite his admission that
his approach today would be broader, Varvaro's book is also
important for those limitations. He focuses attention on
the individual text, encouraging appreciation of Beroul's
work on its own merit.
W. H. T. Jackson's investigation of Gottfried's poem
was published in 1971 bearing the title The Anatomy of
Love; The Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg (New York and
London: Columbia Univ. Press). In his preface, Jackson
This study of Gottfried von Strassburg's poem
differs in many respects from its predecessors. I
have paid little attention to many topics which have
been regarded as staples of Tristan scholarship.
Some, like religion, mysticism, sources, and the
origins of the Tristan legend, have already been
dealt with in far more detail and with more learning
than I could ever hope to attain . .
I have tried to show, by a careful reading of the
text, that Gottfried's Tristan is a unique attempt
to portray the overwhelming power of love and the
essential incompatibility between it and the society
in which Gottfried's contemporaries lived. The poet
struggled with the problem of the correct vehicle
to use to express his thoughts on the subject and
decided to use the romance in spite of his opinion
that its conventions committed it to a view of love
and a solution of the conflict between love and so-
ciety which were far different from his own. Thus
the work is at once a positive statement of Gottfried's
views and a study in the stylistic methods used to
convey them and a negative reaction to the "game-rules"
of the romance as developed by Chretien de Troyes
and brought into German by Heinrich von Veldeke and
Hartmann von Aue. (p. vii)
Jackson's attempt is highly successful and the reader gains
a deeper understanding of Gottfried because he is not ham-
pered by a minute point by point collation but can direct
his energies so fully to the German poet.
Scholars have been cautious, somewhat understandably,
to attempt such an enterprise as Varvaro's and Jackson's
with the work of Thomas because of its condition. Jodogne,
faced with the problem, stated:
Lorsqu'on n'a que des fragments conserves par hasard
et peut-6tre la forme la moins bonne de la redaction
primitive, il serait injuste de juger un ecrivain.
On peut faire des remarques objectives sans doute,
mais leur pertinence ne peut valoir pour qualifier
une oeuvre puisque ce que nous considererions comme
des dominantes dans les 3139 vers conserves, ne sont
peut-6tre que des details dans un ensemble qui a dG
s'etendre sur vingt mille.
These remarks are certainly legitimate. Nevertheless,
critics should not discard or bypass the work of Thomas
that does remain, for their criticism can, at the least,
proceed at the descriptive level, and such an approach is
better than none for a work that was admittedly one of the
Middle Ages' most admired.
7"Comment Thomas d'Angleterre a compris l'amour de
Tristan et Iseut," 104.
For this study, I have centered my attention on the
edition of Thomas by Bartina H. Wind, Les Fragments du Roman
de Tristan (Geneva: Droz, 1960, TLF). Since my interest
concerns the language as .'ell as the content of the monologues,
it seems best to work with those which have survived from
the Middle Ages, rattler than later "reproductions."
Furthermore, since in my study I shall attempt to
demonstrate Thomas' lack of concern for the recit which
results in emphasis on monologue, I feel justified in focus-
Ing on the particular scenes which remain to us. The im-
portance of Thomas' rendition of the Tristan tale, I will
try to show, is not in adventure, but in the effect of actions
upon the nero and heroine. Those actions taking effect
upon the character are present in the monologue as the
character contemplates; thus, even though the sequence of
events may not be entirely at the reader's disposal by text,
the events are nevertheless made available to him.
I approach the study of monologue in Thomas' Tristan
from two angles in this paper. After a brief definition of
monologue and survey of its use and development from classi-
cal times to Thomas' contemporary, Chretien de Troyes, I
study each of the interior monologues in Thomas individually
to determine in what manner and with what artistry Thomas
handles stresses on the hero and heroine. Then, I contrast
the use of interior monologue with dialogue, description
and other elements of the narrative in order to show the
importance of monologue within Thomas' narrative framework.
The monologues have of course been the object of
pointed criticism, as will be seen. But it is my opinion
that their true importance has been underrated or glossed
over, never fully developed. Since interiorization is
recognizably the direction of the Tristan of Thomas and since
the most important vehicle of the process of interiorization
is the interior monologue, certainly this is a fertile area.
A word must be said concerning some procedures employed
throughout this study. First, the spellings of the char-
acters' names in the Tristan of Thomas--the most common
modern spellings have been used, that is, Tristan, Iseut,
Marc, Brangien, Kaherdin, Iseut aux Blanches Mains, Tristan
le Nain, Cariado. In passages cited, of course, the names
will appear in their various forms. Secondly, modern for-
eign or Latin words which have not been commonly assimilated
into English are underlined; when a word is discussed in
relation to a particular passage of a text, the Old French
spelling occurring in that particular passage is kept and
the word appears in quotation marks. (Where the Old French
spelling coincides with the modern, the word is still in
quotation marks when its reference is a particular line or
passage in Thomas.)
I do not treat the question of the date of composition
of Thomas' Tristan in this study. However, in my opinion,
Rita Lejeune offers the most solid reasoning for her sug-
gested dates of 1154-58: the influence of Brut, the
unfamiliarity with Arthur other than as indicated in Wace;
the archaic nature of the language; the fact that Thomas
poses as one of the first if not the first to treat such a
vast matiere in a roman, the predominance of masculine rhyme
and the lack of familiarity with the brisure de couplet
found in Chr6tien. Whether or not another accepts Lejeune's
more specific dates, scholars in general limit the possible
period of composition to 1155-1210: the terminus post quem
is based upon the borrowings from Wace, the terminus ante
quem is based upon Gottfried's use of Thomas. Mostly the
question of dates revolves around Chretien de Troyes--was
Cliges written before or after Thomas' Tristan? For now,
"il faut sans doute renoncer a chercher des pr6cisions que
nous ne pouvons obtenir; toutes les hypotheses sont inveri-
fiables; la question reste ouverte."9
The time has come to evaluate Thomas' Tristan for its
individual, intrinsic worth. It is my hope that through
this study of monologue I might encourage others in that
direction to better appreciate the Roman de Tristan of
"Les 'Influences contemporaines' dans les romans franpais
de Tristan au XIIe siecle; a propos d'un livre recent,"
Le Moyen Age, 66 (1960), 143-62.
9Wind, Les Fragments du Roman de Tristan de Thomas, p. 17.
A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE LITERARY TRADITION OF MONOLOGUE
Definition and General Discussion of Monologue
Monologue, defined simply in popular use, means one
person speaking. Commonly it refers to any lengthy speech.
In general literary usage monologue is any prolonged
utterance in direct speech. Since there are several
varieties of monologue occurring in different art forms,
a more refined definition is essential to further discussion
in this study. One scholar preparing to discuss monologue
in the courtly epics states:
Als Monolog ist aufzufassen jede von einem
Einzelnen oder von Mehreren zugleich gesprochene oder
gedachte Rede, die nicht an einem bestimmten Zuh6rer
gerichtet ist und weder ein Reagieren von aussen her
erwartet, noch eine Beeinflussung nach aussen hin
beabsichtigt. Man k6nnte auch wohl sagen: Der Mono-
log ist ein ungehemmter, durch aussere RUcksichten
weder beeintrdchtiger noch bestimmter Ausfluss von
Bewusstseins--und GefUhlsinhalten,--eine Rede die
ihren Sweck so zu sagen in sich selbst tragt.
In a variation on the popular concept, this definition does
not limit the monologue to the individual. It allows for
1Henry W. Wells, "Monologue," in Encyclopedia of Poetry
and Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger (Princeton: Princeton
Univ. Press, 1965), p. 529.
2Emil Walker, Der Monolog im hofischen Epos (Stuttgart:
W. Kohlhammer, 1928), p. 7.
group speech in unison--the chorus, whose members act, in
one sense, as an individual when their speech is unanimous.
The monologue, according to this definition, may be either
spoken or thought. It is not directed to a specific audi-
ence. It does not expect a reply nor does it expect to
influence others. Thus, it is a private thought nwrose aim
is found in itself. The mere formulation and expression of
thought is its sole end. Whereas the end of a question is
its answer, the flow of conscious thought and emotion is
the goal of the monologue. For instance, a soliloquy (one
person alone, talking to himself) taking the form of a
debate may pose and resolve a problem within a speech;
another monologue may question the reasons or lament the
fact that the speaker has fallen in love, but come to no
resolution. In both cases, however, the monologue would
find its end in itself.
Monologue has been defined as "Rede, die nicht an
einem bestimmten Zuhbrer gerichtet ist." This needs clari-
fication. In most cases, there may be no specific audience
in mind and this conforms to the general character of the
monologue as private thought. However, prayer--which is
also a form of monologue--is indeed addressed to a specific
audience and the monologist entreats the supreme being to
deign to listen even though the speaker expects no verbal
reply. And as is sometimes the case in Tristan, a speaker
directs his words to a specific person, but that person,
being absent, cannot be aware of the address. Here there
is an addressee, but the addressee is not a listener. These
variations, too, are in accord with the stated character of
Although the element of length is not brought into this
definition of monologue, length is an important factor in
the popular idea of monologue as well as in Wells's defini-
tion for general literary usage. The term monologue is not
applied in narrative literature to brief statements or
ejaculations, but rather to speeches which are elaborations
of one or more sentiments, developments of ideas or inter-
pretations of inner or outer activities. All these at least
Accepting this definition with the addition of the
element of length, what, then, is the role of monologue
within a literary work? The function of monologue will vary
depending on whether it is a part or the whole of the work.
In the Tristan of Thomas the monologues fi.t into the frame-
work of a third-person narrative. Here, for this reason,
only monologue within such a third-person narrative will
We distinguish between two worlds in which man func-
tions--the outer world in which man interacts with other
men by words and deeds and the inner world in which his own
thoughts and sensations act upon one another. The poet can
describe the physical actions of his characters in great
detail; he can depict bodily appearance with the eye of a
portrait painter; he can report dialogue with accuracy. The
poet accomplishes these things by standing aside to scruti-
nize his characters. In all these ways, he is representing
the exterior world and does not need to enter into the other,
interior world. M!any worrs of significance e:ist solely in
But there is that other world which the poet can show
us--the inner world of his characters. Robert Scholes and
Robert Kellogg tell us that the depiction of the inner
domain has not always been a concern of writers:
The notion of peering directly into the mind and
dramatizing or analyzing thoughts instead of words and
deeds seems to arise quite late in most literatures.3
By entering the inner world of his characters, the poet can
expose motivation for the behavior he describes. The more
complex the conduct, the more the poet must find a means of
portraying motivation in order to convincingly reproduce
related actions. In a character's inward life, too, tie
audience may discover secret desires or thoughts which
never find materialization in the exterior world but which
add a new dimension to his characterization. When the poet
unlocks the doors of his characters' minds and lets the
audience in, he is allowing his audience to stand on equal
footing with him and they both participate, along with the
The Pature of Narrative (1966; rpt., New York: Oxford
University Press, 1971), p. 175. This study is invaluable
because of its historical analysis of the interior
monologue. No other study was found to do the same.
Therefore this cnapter is heavily indebted to Scholes and
character, in the activities of that private realm. Through-
out the history of narrative literature, poets have developed
different methods of dealing with this private realm within
For example, the author has recourse to direct state-
ment. When he chooses to be an omniscient author, the poet
has the power to delve into the inward lives of his charac-
ters. He can merely tell us that his heroes are tormented
by fear or hate or love and we accept his assertion.
Scholes and Kellogg point out that in saga characterization
the characters operate in mechanical accordance with quali-
ties attributed to them by poets' direct narrative statements;
this characterization avoids the direct observation of the
inner world (although this does not necessarily mean that
the poets and their audiences do not choose to recognize a
difference in external and internal reality), but it is a
step in the direction of the grasp of the activities of the
Like saga characterization, the use of the supernatural
also bypasses psychological analysis, but it represents an
attempt to portray inner activity:
The use of supernatural machinery to reveal mental
process and provide motivation is a device which per-
sists in synthetic epic forms, both pagan and Christian.
Aeneas' motivation in leaving Dido is presented in
terms of a dream sent to him by the gods to remind
him of his destiny. . .
In Christian synthetic epic the devil figures
4bid., pp. 172-73.
prominently as a deus ex machine who assists in the
dramatizin, of motivation and the revelation of
If the poet elects to present the Interior world of his
personages in his ov'n words, he has another choice. He can
render their thoughts by indirect discourse. This method,
however, does not remove the distance between the characters
and the audience. But the poet can go one step further to-
wards the grasp of interior activity by analyzing for his
audience the thoughts he has reported.
Another device which unlatches the door of the inner
world is the interior monologue v.w ich constitutes the basis
of the present investigation of the Tristan of Thomas. It
is believed that monologue may well have preceded dialogue
as the germ of drama. Monologue bring a dramatic element
to narrative. Indeed the interior monologue incorporates
both the lyric and the dramatic in narrative. Just as drama,
the interior monologue establishes direct contact between
the characters and the writer's audience. The interior
monologue can be indicative of a sense of intimacy which
pervades the narrative. The use of monologue bespeaks an
intimacy between the poet and his personage. It can result,
moreover, in a closer relationship between the poet and his
audience as well as between the character and the audience.
In the interior monologue, the narrator allows the character
-Ibid. pp. 176-77.
C%'eils, p. 529.
to become poet and the narrator's role is temporarily
effaced as he becomes part of the audience. The audience
does not receive its impressions of the character filtered
through the view and then the words of a narrator, it re-
ceives them directly from the source. There is less possi-
bility of misunderstanding on the part of the audience or
distortion on the part of the author. Moreover, since the
narrator allows the character to speak, thus sharing his
omniscience with his audience, there is a bond of trust
created between the narrator and his audience with regard
to the credibility of the tale.
Before proceeding further, two problems which arise in
the employment of the term "interior monologue" must be
considered and resolved. First, the term has in recent
times frequently been used synonymously for stream of con-
sciousness, that is, an author's attempt to convey directly
the continuous flow of illogical, ungrammatical, associative
thoughts and sensations in man. However, that is by no
7The modern interior monologue records inner experience
on one or more planes of consciousness, striving toward the
nonverbal, giving an impression of illogicality and the
mind's associative powers. Edouard Dujardin is credited
with being the first to use interior monologue in its mod-
ern sense in Les Lauriers sont coupes (1887). For a study
of interior monologue in the modern sense of the term, see
Edouard Dujardin, Le Monologue int6rieur, son apparition,
ses origins, sa place dans l'oeuvre de James Joyce (Paris:
Messein, 1931). This term "interior monologue" was orig-
inated by Valery Larbaud in reference to Joyce. Dujardin's
study is of stream of consciousness in Joyce forming an
interior monologue. See also La Litterature narrative
d'imagination; des genres litteraires aux techniques d'ex-
pression, Colloque de Strasbourg, April 23-25, 1959 (Paris,
means its only use. "Interior monologue" equally designates
the unspoken soliloquy which has a much older tradition
than the relatively new stream of consciousness. In this
study the label "interior monologue" refers to the unspoken
soliloquy following this definition by Scholes and Kellogg:
Interior monologue is . in narrative literature, a
direct, immediate presentation of the unspoken thoughts
of a character without any intervening narrator. Like
direct discourse or dialogue it is a dramatic element
in narrative literature because only in narrative can
a soliloquy remain unspoken and yet be understood by
Secondly, although interior monologue has just been de-
fined as unspoken soliloquy, nearly all classical monologues
are introduced with tags of "she said," "he said," or "she
asked herself," or some similar indicator of verbalization.
It is most probable that these tags result from the concept
of the early writers (a concept which prevailed until at
least the eighteenth century) that thought is speech with-
out sound, a type of interior dialogue, a conversation
with the self. Thus, thought assumes the "same linguistic
form as oral speech" and "can be represented exactly as
speech would be represented."9 We must be careful there-
fore when an author presents a monologue within the formu-
lae "he said," "she said to herself," and the like because
he may be portraying a monologue which is truly not spoken
aloud. On the other hand, he may be presenting a monologue
u'Nature of narrative, pp. 177-78.
"Ibid., p. 1 O.
uttered aloud because the pain or elation is too much for
the character to confine to his soul, although he is speak-
ing to himself. But in this sense, the monologue does
remain "interior" and will be considered as such for our
Monologue in Selected Classical Authors
Interior monologues appear in works as early as Homer,
Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil and Ovid, among other classical
authors. It would be well to consider briefly the use of
interior monologue in their works, for each built upon the
other to forge the classical tradition of this device.
It is difficult to say whether or not it was Homer who
conceived the interior monologue in narrative literature.
It may have been a common carry-over from early drama to
oral narrative, but there are no substantiating records to
document this. In any event, the first appearance of the
interior monologue in Western narrative literature occurs
in Homer. Erich Auerbach tells us that the aim of Homer
is to make his tale as completely visual as possible,
to represent phenomena in a fully externalized form,
visible and palpable in all their parts, and com-
pletely fixed in their spatial and temporal relations.
Nor do psychological processes receive any other
treatment: here too nothing must remain hidden and
unexpressed. With the utmost fullness, with an order-
liness which even passion does not disturb, Homer's
personages vent their inmost hearts in .speech; what
they do not say to others, they speak in their own
minds, so that the reader is informed of it.10
1Mimesis; The Representation of Reality in Western
Interior monologues are attributed, of course, to major
and minor figures alike. Homer's works, being action-
oriented, employ the interior monologue as a build-up for
the action which follo,.s. Many, of the interior monologues
are preludes to battle in which a character is subject to
fear and so considers cowardly actions. But ultimately his
fear is conquered and he proceeds to battle valiantly.
These monologues follow a pattern:
In half of the interior monologues in the Iliad, one
entire line recurs at a crucial point: alla ti e mol
tauta philos dialexato thymos (but why does my own
heart [thymos] dispute with me thus?). . in every,
case . the identical line occurs at a pivotal
point in the monologue, as the direction of thought
turns from unworthy or unsuitable considerations or
feelings to worthy or suitable ones.11
Such monologues, occurring at points of crisis in the narra-
tive, delay the action only briefly, for in Homer's mind
and in the mind of the audience, there is no question as to
what is the proper course of action to pursue. While the
monologue does delay action, it also intensifies action.
Homer employs the interior monologue where th.e logic of
his tale dictates. The interior monologues in Homer are
"a combination of formulaic behavior and complete ease and
flexibility."12 His monologic arguments are direct and
uncomplicated rather than sophisticated or elaborate since
his primary concern is action.
Literature, trans. Willard R. Trask (1953; rpt. Princeton:
Princeton Univ. Press, 1968), p. 6.
Scholes and Kellogg, p. 179.
2Ibid., p. 178.
Another classical narrative artist, Apollonius of
Rhodes, chose to emphasize thought and began a new practice:
With Apollonius commences a tradition of building a
narrative toward a highly specialized situation which
will require a very special kind of monologue. .
It tends to thrust the monologue itself into a central
position, emphasizing characterization through thought
rather than action, and ultimately resulting in the
stylization of the monologue itself.13
Auerbach states that the first appearance of love as a major
theme in the epic is in the third book of the Argonautica
of Apollonius of Rhodes.14 Apollonius sets the stage, so
to speak, for many future monologues when he allows Medea
to vent the passion in her soul. Whereas Homer's heroes
always know that there is but one proper course of action,
Medea finds herself in a dilemma: should she, whose magic
alone can accomplish the task enforced by her father upon
his enemy Jason, offer Jason her help? On the one hand, she
has been smitten with love for Jason by Eros at the design
of the gods, and on the other hand, she is aware of her
filial duty and of the honor and reputation of her name.
She knows no means of reconciling the two diametrically
opposed sentiments. Her inner torment is reflected in her
physical appearance and conduct--sleep does not come for
her, instead her cares keep her awake, tossing and turning
within her heart, causing her to weep copious tears, writhe
13Ibid., p. 182.
14Literary Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity
and in the Middle Ages, trans. Ralph llanheim (London: Boll-
ingen Foundation, 1965), p. 219.
in anguish and scrape her cheeks. The stylization of the
interior monologue begins here with a dilemma and the char-
acter's attempt to plot a course not between but through
both Scylla and Charybdis. Medea's monologue is accompanied
by Apollonius' analysis of her condition. Her forceful in-
terior monologue became a much-admired, much-copied pattern.
Its success was due to the insight of Apollonius into the
psychology of passion, his probing analysis of private senti-
ment, and the tragic character of his creation. Medea's
monologue became a paragon, and so subsequent monologists
were also women in love with no one in whom to confide,
torn between what they should do and what they would like
to do, considering suicide as the resolution of their di-
Although Medea's inner world is presented to the audi-
ence directly, Apollonius' psychology is still wanting in
that it does not present a proper human motivation for the
passionate activity of Medea's soul--her love and torment
are represented as the result of the arrow of Eros. Medea
is only a pawn in the play of the gods. But in Virgil we
find, expressed in monologue, proper motivation for Dido's
For purposes of composing his fourth book of the
Aeneid, Virgil found, then, a literary tradition already
established which attempted the realistic portrayal of the
effects of love on the soul of a woman and the subtlety of
her feelings. The Mantuan poet borrowed much from the poet
of Rhodes. The monologues of Apollonius' Medea and Virgil's
Dido may be compared: the sense of shame invades Dido also,
contending with her passionate love for Aeneas; she sees no
exit from her dilemma save suicide; she is in the throes
of torment, posing question after question in her mind be-
cause she has no one in whom she can confide now; a prior
pledge of fidelity or duty plagues her.
It is true that love enters the heart of Dido at the
command of Venus in the first book. But there is a differ-
Human action in the Argonautica as a result of human
resolve is a superfluity; in the Aeneid the super-
fluities are the gods. Cupid did not need to assume
the shape of Ascanius or to be fondled in Dido's arms;
Dido was already aflame. But let me quickly retract
that phrase about superfluities, into which that
false divinity Epigram, in her most pernicious form,
Antithesis, has tempted me. It is true, rather, that
Virgil's world is half human and half divine. Forte
quadam divinitus, "jewels upon which I chanced divine-
ly"--Virgil is at one with Livy and Tennyson and with
all who read the world for both its aspects."15
Despite his retraction, his initial observation holds for
the comparison regarding the inception of love as presented
by Apollonius and by Virgil. The reader senses that Medea
is but a toy of the gods. But he sees Dido's reaction and
hears her words to Aeneas as he steps from out of the mist.
The reader senses love. Virgil's treatment of his heroine
Every period in Dido's inner disturbance is made to
1Edward Kennard Rand, The Magical Art of Virgil (Cam-
bridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 19317, pp. 403-404.
issue directly in some corresponding change in the
external action, the result t s a progressive develop-
ment to climax and tragic catastrophe, with the
inner experience and the outer action closely related,
in brief, Virgil . artistically regulates the
emotional experience of his heroine. 1
In Ovid, the interior monologue is brought to the level
of stylization. Ovid ,..'as much admired and emulated for the
rhetoric employed in his poetry, especially the iletainorphoses
and the Heroides. His monologues in the Metamorphoses are
true discourses, n the rhetorical sense. For the most
part and in the best examples, these monologues express the
passions of lovers:
Or Ovide aime a peindre les hesitations et les in-
coherences auxquclles les amoureux sont sujets. Et
pour le fare, 11 a recourse qu elquefols a la descrip-
tion, quelquefois aussi au monologue. Dans ce dernier
cos, 11 fait tenir a ses personnages des discours ou
se heurtent lcs resolutions contriralrcs. L'amoureux,
alcrs, discute avec lul-m'me; ii se pose des questions
et se fait des objections, comme s'il se dcdoublait;
il s'adresse la parole a ]a deuxieme personnel, en
c'appelant par son nom.1
The monologue-discourses are adorned vlith elaborate argument
and sophisticate. rhetoric, for Ovid's interest lies less in
his characters than in the "intellectual process of debate"
exploited in the monologues; such was to be the tenor of the
monologue of characterization until the Renais sance. Ovid 's
Medea (Book VII of The Metamorphoses) is an example. Ovid's
16Henry W. Prescott, The Development of Virgil's Art (1927;
rpt. ie,.v York: Russell and Russell, 1963), p. 2-13.
Recherches sur les sources latines des contest et romans
courtois du I.Ioen Age (Paris: Champion, 1917T', p. 157.
1 lbid., p. 152.
retelling of the Jason-Medea story is relatively brief, but
he allows Medea to soliloquize at length. His Medea is over-
powered by fate, her filial duty is overshadowed by the
passion which does battle with reason and almost succeeds
in rationalizing itself. Only at the end of her monologue
does shame regain supremacy--to fall by the wayside when
Medea sees Jason again. The audience's reaction to the mono-
logue is artfully manipulated by the argument of a seasoned
rhetor whose words do not fail in their design. Medea's
monologue, however, is much too long for the brevity of the
tale as a whole. It has lost much if not all of the tragic
quality of the monologue of Apollonius' Medea. And yet it
has a certain grace and elegance, a pathos which Ovid's
admirers were quick to imitate.
We have seen the development towards stylization of the
interior monologue. The major interior monologues of classi-
cal antiquity tended to be built around a dilemma and take
the shape of a debate between the parts of the divided soul.
Even though many of these show psychological insight in
their characterization, rhetoric rather than psychology
governs them. That is not to say that all of the monologues
are weighted with superfluous rhetoric. But the danger for
the monologue is inherent in the understanding of thought
as speech without sound because thought can then be organ-
ized according to the science of speech--rhetoric. Further-
more, the mixing of rhetoric and passion is often not
successful, as Auerbach has pointed out:
Rhetorical excess is very dangerous in treatments of
the passions and the sublime; it destroys all immediacy
and movement, especially when the reader has the
feeling that the scene did not spring from a single
impulse but was carefully pieced together with the help
of traditional devices.
The monologue did become a playground for "verbal vir1tuos-
i ty" in imit:ation particularly of Ov-.d. Although mono-
logues were created for situations outside of tne one 'e
have been discussing, the interior monologue became a set
piece. Its major role was to analyze the effects of love
and so the standard place of the monologue was at the moment
of the inception of love. Gradually more of the male char-
acters joined the women in their erotic soul-searchings,
although it was long felt that it was women who were more
easily overcome by passion. Sometimes the debate-char-
acter was suppressed in favor of a prayer or lamentation-
form, for example when the conflict did not assume the level
and proportion of dilemma.
Thus, having surveyed the use of monologue in classi-
cal literature, we know that when Thomas and the narrative
artists of the twelfth century composed their monologues
amoureux, full of the introspection and soul-analysis so
characteristic of "fin'amors," they were carrying on an
19Literary Language, p. 193.
'Scholes and Kellogg, p. 185.
Ibid., p. 183.
Monologue in Selected Twelfth-Century Literature
Paul Zumthor establishes the role of monologue in medi-
. du fait que 1' venturer" individuelle est par
definition (au niveau du recit r6alise) imprevisible,
les auteurs tendent a en rapporter aux agents eux-
memes (aux "personnages" ) la causality superfi-
cielle. Ils le font au moyen de trois procedes qui,
des les annees 60-80 du XIIe siecle, apparaissent come
propres au discours romanesque. Le premier n'est
autre qu'une intervention d'un auteur annongant que
telle disposition de tel agent va declencher une ac-
tion. Le second, cree par l'auteur d'Eneas, et beau-
coup d6veloppe par la suite, constitute l'un des traits
les plus frappants du roman m6dieval, specialement du
roman en vers: c'est le monologue (beaucoup plus rare-
ment, le dialogue) ou un agent pese, en general a
l'aide d'arguments typiques, les motifs qui le poussent
a tel ou tel acte. Le troisieme, normalement combine22
avec 1'un des deux autres, est la figure d'allegorie.
The knowledge of monologue as a narrative device was
nothing new to the writer of the twelfth century in Western
Europe. Ovid's Metamorphoses and Heroides provided excel-
lent examples of probings of the heart in matters of love.
Much has been made of the debt Thomas owes to Wace's
Brut. But it is not Wace from whom Thomas acquired the
taste or the talent for monologue. Nor should this be ex-
pected of the Brut which, as a chronicle, must cover many
hundreds of years and thus the lives of many men and women.
It could not be expected to be an example for the painting
of the minutiae of the soul. The Brut has not one hero but
22Essai de poetique medievale (Paris: Seuil, 1972),
many. Plot--here, history--perforce prevails over detailed
characterization. The inner life is not Wace's main con-
cern. Nevertheless, the names of the chronicle are made
vivid for us.
Le'r's apostrophe to Fortune in lines 1913-72 is a
moving piece, but a brief one, and it is notable more as an
example of one of the most frequent topoi of medieval litera-
ture, because of its personification of Fortune, than it is
as an example of monologue. It is almost as if Wace does
not want to allow soliloquy with its display of deep-felt
emotion in his Brut. .'ace in particular does not care for
maudlin lamentation, and "preferisce spronare sbrigamente al
conforto con massime sull'inutilita del dolore."24 But this
is not to say that the narration of Wace is without emotion-
al appeal. There is skillful use of dialogue, yet more often
the appeal is to be found in his artistry of description.
It might seem that lamentation would be a fairly de-
veloped item in his narrative considering the passing of so
many generations, among them many men worthy of panegyric.
Elaine's nurse is allowed to carry on briefly as she re-
counts to Bedoer the tale of Elaine's death. Through the
details of the story come a few lines of self-interrogation
23Wace, Le Roman de Brut, ed. Ivor Arnold (Paris: So-
ciete des Anciens Textes Frangais, 1938-40). Subsequent
references are to this edition.
2Giovanna Angeli, "L'"Eneas" e i primi romanzi volgari
(Mwilan and Naples: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1971), p. 32.
which approach monologue:
"Lasse, pur quei me fu livree?
Lasse, pur quei l'ai tant nurrie
Quant uns diables l'ad ravie;
Lasse dolente, ma dulgur,
Ma joie, mun deduit, m'amur
Ad li gaianz a hunte ocise
E jo l'ai ci en terre mise."
(11. 11402-404; 11413-16)
The nurse's lamentation is tightly bound to the narrative--
in fact, the narrative elements in her speech outweigh the
lyric. But those moments, when the dialogue is superseded
and she addresses her soul, or no one in particular--a cruel
fate, give the discourse its texture. Granted this is not
monologue according to the definition we have employed, but
the discourse merits mention to show the attitude of Wace.
He has not the time to allow his characters to expound on
individual sentiment. His is the portrait of a nation.
Thus we can understand an attitude which seeks to reduce
"la tensions romanzesca per cui la cronaca e come ritmata
da movimenti ricorrenti che arginano le emozioni e livellano
la storia ad un alternarsi di 'flussi e riflussi'.25
Turning from Wace, we can readily see the influence of
the Metamorphoses on works such as Piramus et Tisbe and
Narcisus. Both texts recount at length in langue vulgaire
the effects of love--the paintings, the sobbings, the trem-
bling, the hot and cold spells, the turning pale, the
inability to eat or drink, the interior debates, and the
erotic dreams which are only that--illusions. Edmond Faral
maintains the priority of Piramuts et Tisbh with reference to
Eneas. The riormmn poem is responsible for the develop-
ment of a particular of style in monologue which was to
find great favor with immediately succeeding authors--the
technique of self-interrogation:
Il consiste, a propos d'un mot qui vient d'etre pro-
nonce, a introduire une interrogation fictive, et2
repartir la-dessus pour un nouveau developpement.
This procedure seems to be of scholastic provenance and is
closely tied to the epic procedure recommencement.2 Piramus
et Tisbe, like the later Aucassin et Nicolette, alternates
narrative and lyric parts. It is in its own way a type of
chante-fable, for although they are not sung, highly lyrical
monologues alternate rather evenly with narrative. The text
of Piramus et Tisbe is, of all twelfth-century French narra-
tive, perhaps the closest to drama. Although several of the
lyric episodes are not monologues per se in the sense de-
fined here (Piramus and Tisbe do at some points address their
speeches to one another and each is definitely a responsive
audience), they are monologues in the sense that they are
extended speeches and the speaker is, for practical purposes,
alone--he is separated from his lover by the wall. The
Recherches, pp. 20-24.
27 e .
C. de Boer, ed., Piramus et Tisbe, poeme du XII siecle
(Paris: Champion, 1921, CFMAT, p. 32.
2Faral, Recherches, p. 21.
29Ibid., p. 25.
monologues in Piramus et Tisbe are of two kinds--the mono-
logue amoureux and the death lament. Both are very im-
portant in the development of monologue use in the medieval
roman. Perhaps the death laments in this tale arouse the
most pathos. Piramus et Tisbe, then, is important as a
beginning and for its extensive employment of monologue.
In the Aeneid there is no question that Dido is the
focus of Virgil's attempt at a psychological portrayal and
that her use of monologue is one of his primary tools. In
the Eneas Dido no longer has the privileged role. The
twelfth-century author, of course, allows her to reenact
the part assigned to her by his source and thus to exhale
her traditional lament but with none of the relish with
which he treats Lavinia. In the Aeneid there is no hint at
love either on the part of Lavinia or on the part of Aeneas.
The union is hardly a marriage of love and Lavinia is given
a very flat character.
The author of the Eneas, on the other hand, creates a
new Lavinia, a true character, indeed, the heroine of the
second half of the Eneas.
Raymond Cormier asserts that "Lavinia is the complex
character in the Eneas who undergoes, more than Eneas, an
identifiable development."30 Lavinia comes to know love
"by experiencing its symptoms, alone, behind a closed door,
without a confidant, and by analyzing her feelings in an
300ne Heart One Mind: The Rebirth of Virgil's Hero in
Medieval French Romance (University, Miss.: Romance Mono-
graphs, 1973), p. 204.
Interiorized, introspective or individualizing fashion (vv.
8047-380)."31 One of the major means of communicating the
turbulence within Eneas and Lavinia is their utilization of
monologue. Eneas and Lavinia are not the only characters
to soliloquize but since the tale of their love and union
is the central feature of the romance, their monologues are
the most interesting and the most developed. Of the tw'o,
Lavlinia is given, or perhaps takes, more opportunity to
sound the depths of her soul.
Angeli gives an excellent description of the second
half of the Eneas:
Praticamente non c'e azione a tutto e affidato alle
riflessioni sulla natural e gli effetti dell'amore,
entity simbolica personificata e vero protagonista
della parte finale dell'Eneas: le disquisizioni sono
il reale centro espressivo e, come tali, si traducono
in un linguaggio nuovo, ricercato e fecondo di
ulteriori dilatazioni nella poesia narrative cortese.
In these monologues are found both the division of the
self which results in interior dialogue (monologue dialogue,
monologo fittizio) and the exploitation of apostrophe. In
her fictitious dialogue, Lavinia truly separates her con-
tradictory nature--the one self addresses the other in the
second person and calls that person by name. While the
use of the technique shows the author's attempt at veracity
in a psychological portrayal, the language remains Ovidian
3Ibid., p. 206.
L'"Eneas", p. 112.
33Faral, Recherches, p. 154. Faral believes that the
Eneas author abused this technique by overuse.
as in Piramus et Tisbe. Love is personified and idealized.
His arrows pierce the heart and cause wounds; no one is
immune from Love's power. Love burns within hearts, its
fire and flames are felt. Love holds out its nets and
traps to ensnare; like a fisherman, it holds out its line.
We do not witness the development of love. Love
entered Lavinia's heart when she saw Eneas from her tower
and immediately conquered her in all its plenitude. Just
as for Virgil's Dido, Lavinia's love is expressed only in
its full flowering. We never see either Virgil's Dido or
the Lavinia of the Eneas groping from "like" to "love."
But we do witness the trials of Lavinia's love: Should she
make her love known? Will Eneas respond to her or is he
satisfied with his company of Trojans? Are her feelings
Lavinia and Eneas suffer the same torments as Piramus
and Tisbe. Lavinia's monologues, as Faral points out, are
of close kinship with the first monologue of Tisbe, having
many of the same ideas, metaphors and much of the same arti-
fice, in particular the fictitious dialogue.3 And further,
these two monologues have definite affinity by their lan-
guage with the seventh book of the Metamorphoses, the tale
Auerbach says that whereas in the Metamorphoses, "the
erotic element is treated in a few sharp and brief antitheses
34Ibid., pp. 16-20.
35Ibid., p. 20.
. . the author of the Eneas transposed Ovid's love
casuistry into another social class and another style,
in v.hich it seems--at least to me--rather out of place.1"3
Auerbach sees the disparity, then, with the epic foundation
the author is using but trying to convert to the casuistry
of courtesan literature of the Ovidian era. Auerbach does
recognize, hov.'ever, the debt of courtly literature to the
En eas w .hich elevated love to a major theme.
What is most important for our study is to note that
the monologues in the Eneas have a true function in the
whole of the narrative. They are not ornamental tidbits
designed to show off the author rather than his story. The
Eneas employs two types of monologue:
o funebri deplorazioni o invocazioni all'amore,
organizzate second canoni espressivi accuratamente
predisposti (dapprima la messa in evidenza di punte
tragicamente significative e, in un second tempo,
quella di element che preparano al felice epilogo).
E quest indica un modo non comune di concepire la
costruzione di un testo narrative.37
The monologues, especially in the second half, are essential
to the story. The plot there has gone from the level of
exterior action to that of interior consciousness. It is
this trait which is also found in the Tristan of Thomas.
Although Faral believed that the Roman de Thebes is a
source for the Eneas,3 today the question is without firm
Literary Language, p. 215.
'Angeli, p. 134.
S'Recherches, pp. 92-98, 109.
resolution;39 but Angeli does say that "le relazioni fra i
due rifacimenti sono improntate ad una simbiosi involontaria
certo provocata da sentiment di rivalita che la vicinanza
operative rese inevitabili."40
Eneas differs from the other romans d'antiquite. It holds
clear promise for the courtly roman. But Thebes, being slight-
ly older, is a closer relative of the chanson de geste. Angeli
develops the further postulate that Thebes is a work closer
to the spirit of the chansons de geste than to classical
texts. He has "l'impressione che questo clerc operate
alla corte di Enrico II non fosse un erutido e che reivocasse
alle orecchie dei lettori un mondo noto, quello delle prime
canzoni di gesta, delle vite dei Santi in volgare, dei testi
latini contemporanei o di poco precedent, dei drammi sa-
cri."41 For this reason, the use of monologue in Thebes
appears closer to the epic planctus. The tradition of the
funeral oration, highly developed in both Greece and Rome,
was carried on by the clerks of the Middle Ages. Since the
clerks composed many planctus for religious officials, the
preponderance of religious elements in the death laments
found in narrative is readily understood.42 The planctus
Angeli, pp. 142-52.
4 bid., p. 152.
1Ibid., p. 99.
42Alfred Jeanroy, La Po6sie lyrique des troubadours (Tou-
louse: Privat, 19347, II, 237-45. The Provencal planh, on
the other hand, was strictly.a secular tradition and distin-
guishable from the planctus on many counts.
became an ornamental feature of the chanson de geste just as
funeral panegyric seems to be a feature of the epic tradi-
The monologues in Thebes revolve around death and are
uttered by minor figures as well as by ma-jor figures. An-
gell maintains that the author had before him both epic and
hagiographic models of the planctus.43 The death laments
are often preceded by an act of swooning, a commonplace in
both the Chanson de Roland, for example, and the Saint
Alexis. For the most part these planrctLs are very short--
some are only two or three lines. The speeches of Ysmeine
and Polinices are longest and although they may be stylized,
they are somewhat more interesting than the others. Al-
though the lamentation of the cro,.,wd (11. 6313-56) and Ys-
meine (11. 6381-42)44 on the death of Aton is inspired by
the text of Statius, it has elements similar to the epic
and the Latin tradition--"la parte central del compianto
e tutta una commemorazione del valore del guerriero, ma
compaiono degli accenti di tension e di dolore cos? mar-
cati che esulano dal genere del planctus latino." Those
elements which supersede the Latin planctus, the lyrical,
poignantr opening lines and the personification and apos-
trophe to Mort along with a more sophisticated rhetoric,
L'"Eneas", pp. 84 ff.
L44e Roman de Thebes, ed. Leopold Constans (Paris:
Firnier-Didot, 1890, SATF). Subsequent references to
Thebes are to this edition.
SAn- geli p. .9.
approach the quality of the monologue in Piramus et Tisbe.
But these elements do not have the force to color the whole
narrative and so it remains more closely tied to the epic
tradition and liturgical tradition. The liturgical tradi-
tion is evoked by the anaphoristic "tu" and the recital of
The use of monologue in Thebes accentuates not moments
of dilemma per se but moments of crisis nevertheless--death.
They render more painful, more pathetic the aura of doom
and destruction which the author created in his prologue,
speaking of the sons of Edipodes:
Thebes destruistrent lor cite
Et degast6rent lor regne;
Destruit en furent lor veisin
Et il ambedui en la fin. (11. 29-32)
and the curse which Edipodes himself implored the gods to
effect upon his sons:
"Puissanz reis des cieus, Jupiter,
"Tesiphone, fure d'enfer,
"Les orgoillos me destruisiez
"Qui mes ueuz mistrent soz lor piez.
"Entre eus vienge descorde .taus,
"A ambedous pesme et mortaus,
"Que le regne qu'ont a baillir
"Ne lor leise guaires tenir." (11. 510-17)
Throughout the Thebes action dominates, tragically thrust
forward, by the forces called upon by Edipodes. The mono-
logues, the planctus, do not stop the action--most of them
are too brief. But they insure that the reader will react
46Ibid., p. 90
properly, fo:r all the sorrow he has w.i tnessed, to the au-
thor's final counsel:
Por co vos di: "Prenez en cure,
"Far dreit errez et par mesire;
"lIe faciez rien contre nature,
"Que ne vengie7 a fin si dure." (11. 10227-30)
These planctus are not designed for introspective, interior
analysis. They are designed as commentary on the tragedy of
the action. They are not, then, essential to the story but
only color the tale. More important for the psychology of
the tale is the author's use of portraiture and his own
interpretations of the behavior of his characters.
Benoft de Sainte-iaure has been called "le premier
ini.iateur du roman d'amour.47 He treats no: one but four
stories of love, all bound to the panoramic history of Troy:
Jason and Medea; Paris and Helene; Troilus and Brise'da (and
Diomedes): Achilles and Polixenain. These love stories are
adroitly contrived, integral parts of the narrative.
Medea does not share with us either feelings of nascent
love or the burden which her sudden love has thrust upon her.
This is rather surprising since Medea's dilemma had proved
to be such fertile ground for monologue for both Apollonius
of Rhodes and Ovid. Indeed, those monologues are among the
4Paul Zumthor, Histoire litteraire de la France medi-
evale (VIe-XIVe siecles) (Paris: Presses Universitaires
de Prance, 1954), p. 192.
'For a study of the place of the four stories of love
'witriin the roman, see R. 1.. Lumiansky' s article, "Structural
Unity, in ED.noft's Roman de Tr)le," Romania, 79 (1958), 410-24.
most memorable in literature. But Benoft does not allow
Medea to soliloquize until the time she awaits Jason in her
room. There is both apostrophe and rhetorical questioning
in her monologue--she is angry at the fools who, though it
is past midnight, have not gone to bed, thus delaying her
rendez-vous; she calls out to Jason and she poses the ques-
tion to herself in line 1497: "De quei me sui jo entremise?"49
Again as she watches Jason from her window while he performs
his task, she addresses him in her thoughts, expressing her
fear that he will not return to her. V/e do not hear Jason
soliloquize and so he remains only an adventurous and not an
amorous character in our eyes. The tale of Jason and Medea
is told as a narrative block. It is not diffused through-
out the verses as are the other three tales of love.
BriseYda laments her fate of having to be sent to the
camp of the Greeks. In this lamentation she calls out to
TroYlus, her first love. When she soliloquizes again, it
is to lament the consequences of her betrayal of TroYlus
in the giving of her love to Diomedes. She knows that she
will be dishonored throughout history as a false lover:
Contre reison e centre dreit,
Ai ma fine amor otroiee. (11. 20272-73)
Of all the men in love, Achilles alone is given the
privilege of monologue. Achilles, the great warrior, is
weakened and laid low by Love: "Malades sui" (1. 17729),
49Benoft de Sainte-Maure, Le Roman de Troie, ed. L6opold
Constans (Paris: Firmier-Didot, 1904-12, SATF). Subsequent
references are to this edition.
"ne sul pas sain:/ Sovent en devieng pnale e vain/ Sovent
m'en refreidist li cors" (11. 18083-85). As these brief
qu..otes illustrate, Achilles' monologues are highly colored
by Ovidlan influence. Amors is idealized and personified,
and even speaks to Achilles in his own monologue. Even
though Achilles has been "lacie e pris" (1. 17650) by Amors,
Love does not conquer all rn Troie, for Ach1iles, hs'aing
laid down his arms for the sake of Polixensain and peace, in
the end is forced to take them up again.
Although we know through dialogue anrd Benoft's portray-
al of her the love Helene feels for Paris, we neither hear
her voice nor her private thoughts until the death of Paris.
There are other monologues in the roman. One very
moving piece is Priam's speech in which he bewails Fortune.
Given the topic, there is place for frequent lamentation of
Yet, although it is cited last in the famous trilogy
of romans d'antiquite, the Roman de Troie does not mark a
distinct development over its predecessors in use of mono-
logue. Although numerous, the monologues in Troie do not
effect any new perspectives. The laments have the tradi-
tional structure--the description of physical evidence of
sorrow; the lament itself; a description of the despair
and sorrow of either the speaker or other mourners as well.50
Benoit knows how to evoke the compassion of his audience.
'Angeli, p. 168.
The love monologues are graceful and they embellish scenes
of crisis or those in which we see the tolls Love extorts
from his servants. In his appraisal of Benoit de Sainte-
Maure, Angeli says:
Benoft ha quindi sempre in mente un modello, un
testo in volgare, sia esso Brut, o 1'Eneas o Thebes,
ma di questi esemplari fruisce solo per le scelte di
alcuni motivi "obbligatori." L'architettura del suo
romanzo non resta, in practice, visibilmente modifi-
cata da quelle pause "di effetto" che sono i com-
pianti, puri ornamenti, addizioni che, per quanto
ricercate, non arrivano mai a dei "ruolichiave".
Descrizioni, apostrofi, sentence, sono, cioe,
abbellimenti, decorazioni necessarie alla veste
dell'opera ma non indispensabili alla sua dinamica
Of the romans d'antiquite, it is the Eneas, then, which
shows the most sophisticated handling of the monologue.
Monologue there is not mere embellishment but the focus of
the second part of the roman. In the Thebes and the Troie,
on the other hand, although the monologues color the tale,
that is the limit of their effect. The Thebes seems closest
to the chanson de geste. Perhaps because the Roman de Troie
treats four stories of love among many stories of war,
Benoit's monologues do not have the effect of those in the
Eneas. The monologues in the Eneas probe deeply and finely.
We feel we truly know Lavinia whereas Briseida is one woman
among many whose lives were jeopardized by the war.
Chretien de Troyes is especially noted for the astute
psychology invested in his tales, and particularly for his
fine use of direct address, both monologue and dialogue.
51Ibid., p. 173.
One of the earliest studies of Chretien is from this vie w-
point.52 C. S. Lewis also noted Chreitien de Troyes' use of
allegory to portray the inner world.53 Allegory weighs
heavily not only in monologue but in the third person narra-
Although monologue is preponderant in Cliges, in his
best-structured work, Yvain, it plays only a small (but
nevertheless important) role. It is consequently instruc-
tive to follow the development and application of monologue
in his works.
Enide's monologues, according to Jean Frappier, are
neither analytic nor "amoureux,54 although they do help
provide some psychological insight into her character. Of
course, at the writing of Erec, the use of monologue was
still a rather recent technique.
Cliges is often distinguished from the four Arthurian
romans by the absence of venture; for Cliges, the casuistry
is the major concern. Some would see it as a Neo-Tristan,
others as an Anti-Tristan, and still others as a Super-
Tristan. But its anteriority or posteriority vis-a-vis the
Tristan of Thomas remains in question.
2Alfons Hilka, Die direkte Rede als stilistisches Kunst-
mittel in den Romanen des Kristian von Troyes (Halle: M.
5The Allegory of Love (1936; rpt. New York: Oxford Univ.
Press, 1971), p. 30.
54Chretien de Troyes (Paris: Hatier, 1968), p. 116.
As with many medieval works, and particularly as with
Eneas, Cliges is divided into two parts. In the Eneas, the
poet's emphasis is on the second part which contains the
story of Eneas and Lavinia. But in Cliges, the first half
of the book which contains the story of the love of the
hero's parents, Soredamors and Alexandre, is as important
(and necessary) as the second. Both generations are given
to interior deliberation. In Cliges, interior debate re-
ceives its fullest, grandest treatment in Chretien de
Troyes. There are four important monologues in Cliges--
two by Soredamors (475-523, 897-1046);55 one each by
Alexandre (626-872) and Fenice (4410-4574). Cliges, the
titular focus, does not voice a similar soliloquy. In each
of these cases the monologist tries to come to terms with
nascent love.56 Cliges is often considered pedantic, pre-
cieux, the most artificial of the works of Chretien. The
personification of the heart, the eyes, Love; love seen as
sickness, Love the harsh master; the military metaphors,
all recall Ovid. Chretien becomes very didactic in the
soliloquy of Alexandre and this didacticism jars the
55Cliges, ed. Wendelin Foerster (1884; rpt. Amsterdam:
Rodopi, 1965). Subsequent references are to this edition.
56Jean Frappier, Etude sur Yvain ou le Chevalier au
lion de Chretien de Troyes (Paris: Societe d'Edition
d'Enseignement Superieur, 1969), p. 165. Frappier states
of Chretien that "peut-etre sous l'influence du Tristan
de Thomas et certainement sous celle de 1'Eneas, il avait
pour la premiere fois employee le monologue a une analyse
fouillee du sentiment amoureux, non sans un exces de pre-
ciosit6 et d'artifice."
reader--it seems less plausible coming from the mouth of
Alexandre himself than it would coming from Chretien as
narrator. Frappier notes this didacticism and for this
reason calls the use of monologue a "procede assez danie-
reux, car il risque de ralentir l'action et de substituar
la dissertation theorique au conte et a l'expression vive
des sentiments."' In fact, Frappier says of the mono-
logues in Cliges that "l'effort d'introspection--tres in-
teressant d'ailleurs--est alourdi par la theorie et le
dogmatisme; on sent trop que le h6ros et l'heroine sont
construits pour illustrer des maximes."'58
Despite such severe judgment, there is much merit in
Chretien's use of the monologue. He captures the hesi-
tancies, the contradictions of love's first manifestation
in the heart. His excellence here lies in his working
with the traditional Ovidian love metaphors and yet pro-
ducing a work which grasps the subtle movements of the
heart. Chretien dislikes stasis, lack of motion in his
narrative. Vhen his characters are not in pursuit of ad-
venture, he shows us the motions of their hearts. Through
his monologues we see interior character development.
Chretien is aware that this use of monologue strengthens
the bonds which unite his character and his public.
In the Lancelot, there are four monologues in parti-
cular which stand out. First are the soliloquies pronounced
57Ibid., p. 163.
5Ibid., p. 135.
by Guenievre (11. 4215-62)59 and Lancelot (11. 4281-4301 and
4336-4414) with the fear that the other is dead. Lancelot's
crazed reaction leads to a suicide attempt; when the attempt
is aborted, he delivers a moving tirade against Death.
Guenievre's monologue is important to the reader as the
true indication of her feeling and the degree of her passion
for Lancelot which is masked by her actions. Were it not
for such an expression, in her own words, the reader might
be completely antagonistic to the queen. Further, this
monologue points to the artificial character of courtly
love and its codified role-playing. Whereas Guenievre's
monologue shows the dichotomy of her character--her true
feeling and recognition of wrong-doing versus her feelings
programmed by basic tenets of courtly love, the two mono-
logues by Lancelot support his actions as described by
Chretien. He is the willing, obedient servant of Guenievre,
his worth is found in service to her. His soliloquies
vividly present his state of mind; here we are made to see
his motivation--the forces of honor versus shame, the
quality of his love and its code of conduct. Lancelot's
complaint from his prison (11. 6488-6549) provides another
interesting example of monologue. There is the traditional
imprecation against Fortune and the image of the Wheel which
59Das Karrenritter (Lancelot) und Das Wilhelmsleben
(Guillaume d'Angleterre), ed. Wendelin Foerster (1884; rpt.
Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1965). Subsequent references are to
this edition of the Lancelot.
certainly symbolizes the plight of Lancelot. There is also
a Christian lament: "Ha, sainte Croiz, saint Esperiz"
(1. 6501). This prefaces his rebuke of Gauvain which
curiously terminate~ with an absolution of Gauvain and a
curse upon Micleagant. This monologue, like the others in
the work, provides effective pause. It does not in any
way encumber the narration.
In fact, Chretien de Troyes does not weigh down any
of his works with monologue after Cliges. In Yvain there
is a happy synthesis of action and analysis. Yvain does
not scrutinize his sentiments in the labored manner of
Alexandre, and rather than a didactic tone there is a
lyric quality arising from the ardor of his feelings. We
find deliberation in Laudine's monologue with the charac-
teristic dedoublement du soi in her fictitious trial of
her husband's murderer (11. 1760-72).60 The monologues
are real attempts to aid the readers' acquaintance with
the characters. In Laudine's monologue, her tirade ad-
dressed to her invisible enemy, we see a woman full of
verve, a very vibrant person. We witness Chretien's superb
craftsmanship in her monologue--Laudine speaks in her mind
the words she will later exact from Yvain. Chretien ex-
cels in that other means of direct presentation--the dia-
logue. For example, one of the best ways, and certainly
Le Chevalier au Lion (Yvain), ed. Mario Roques (Paris:
Champion, 1960, CFMAT.
the most dramatic, by which we come to know Laudine is
through her conversations with her servant Lunette. We
also come to know her through Chretien's own analysis of
her state of mind. So although she is given but one well-
developed monologue, she is a sufficiently motivated char-
acter. Frappier has noted that in the Yvain, the use of
portraiture, that traditional element of medieval narra-
tive, is suppressed: "C'etait bien la meilleure fagon
d'echapper a la tyrannie des recettes d'ecole. Au lieu
d'un portrait m6ticuleux, et immobile, de la tate aux pieds,
il trace avec bonheur, des croquis mi-descriptifs, mi-
psychologiques, pris sur le vif."61
In Chr6tien's last work, the Perceval, he employs
short monologue for both comic and ironic purposes in two
instances. The first is when the naive Perceval mistakes
the knights for the devils about which his mother has
spoken and the second is when he revises his judgment and
takes them for angels. These are marvelous little pieces
designed to reflect the extreme simplicity of the youhg
hero. But in the Perceval, Chretien also employs other
means of psychological insight--his effective geography,
for instance, so that monologue does not find application
as the means of character development but only revelation.
Thus, Chretien experimented with the interior monologue
in Erec and exploited it in Cliges. In Cliges, the
6Etude sur Yvain, p. 162.
monologues show Chretien's serious efforts to depict the
soul's movements but they weigh tile poem down by their
didacticism. In Lancelot and Yvain, Chretien successfully
limited his use of the technique for a favorable synthesis
of action and interior analysis. Meanwhile he was also per-
fecting other techniques which can reveal his characters'
inner worlds so that in his last work, Perceval, the in-
terior monologue has extremely limited application and is
orchestrated as one of many narrative elements which allow
us to witness the hero's spiritual progress.
To properly attempt to understand the use of interior
monologue in the roman, we should extend our view. beyond
narrative poetry. Introspective analysis is a trait which
the monologue in the narrative setting shared with the lyric
poetry of the troubadours. It is possible that Provencal
literature nourished the literature of the north in this
respect. When the court of Alienor d'Aquitaine flourished
in England during the years 1154-58, the sophisticated
literature of the south was disseminated throughout England
and the north of France. Bernard de Ventadour himself
traveled to the royal coronation ceremonies and while he
was there he was assuredly admired and soon emulated for
his sensitive verse. Frappier says, "Le procede de l'ana-
lyse est apparu dans la litterature francaise avec l'in-
spiration courtoise, et, parallelement, dans la poesie
lyrique et dans le roman; c'est dans ce second genre
qu'il a pris la plus grande extension, sans jamais atteindre
des proportions considerables."2 Frappier's comment bears
upon indirect interior analysis, that is, the author's own
analysis of his characters which usually prepares or fol-
lows a monologue or dialogue. However, monologue itself
is the type of instrument of interior analysis which is
most closely related to troubadour poetry.
Troubadour poetry was of course for the most part lyr-
ic and its mode of expression was the first person. Fur-
thermore, its major concern was love and the poet himself
was the subject. The chanson d'amour is the true glory of
Provencal art. Jeanroy, not one to appreciate the poetry
of the troubadours, does distinguish two poets for making
worthy contributions--Bernard de Ventadour and Feire Ro-
gier. He grants the superiority of Bernard de Ventadour's
verse and excuses what he calls Bernard's illogicality and
his cyclothymia because he feels that Bernard is motivated
by true passion. And although he no doubt would call
Peire Rogier insincere, he recognizes a particular merit of
this troubadour: "II a su enfin rompre la monotonie de la
requete amoureuse en introduisant dans ses chansons un
element dramatique, en engageant, avec lui-meme ou un in-
terlocuteur suppose, des dialogues aux repliques pressees
qui donnent au style une allure haletante, ou se reflete la
62Ibid., p. 164.
63La Poesie lyrique, II, 142.
detresse du patient." 61 This stylistic device was perhaps
responsible for distinguishing Peire Rogier from his fellow
poets by a certain naturalness and ease in his poetry. Al-
though Bernard de Ventadour had traveled to the north,
Feire Rogier's voyages, though not necessarily his renown,
were limited to the south. It is thought that he began his
poetic career before 1160, although we have no knowledge of
specific poems before 1167.65
Aside from the chansons d'amour, there are other poetic
forms whose popularity may have helped to nourish the de-
velopment of the interior monologue in the roman in the
second half of the twelfth century--the tension, a debate
between two speakers with an ensuing judgment; the partimen
or the joc partit in which one of the interlocutors offers
two mutually exclusive propositions and himself defends the
one not chosen by his debate partner. The appeal of these
forms may have encouraged the dedoublement du soi in the
interior monologues, although we have already seen that this
dedoublement was a feature in the classical interior mono-
logue. The debate character of monologue is an antidote to
The implementation of interior monologue in twelfth-
century narrative poetry may also have received impetus from
64Tbid., p. 138.
Carl Appel, Das Leben und die Lieder des Trobadors Peire
RFtoe (Be'lin: G. Reimer, 18-2), pp. 10-12; Jeanroy, II,
religious movements in the late eleventh and the twelfth
centuries which fostered self-analysis. Saint Anselm of
Canterbury urged self-knowledge through introspection and
confession. His model for meditation on God's existence
bears the title Monologium. Anselm speaks of two sources
of knowledge--reason and faith, and he believes that he who
is firmly rooted in faith can try to rationally understand
that which he believes by faith. Anselm is overshadowed
by the powerful figure of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux whose
principle was "know thyself." Bernard was both emotional
and logical--his sentimentality is perhaps most evident in
his devotional prayers; his theological writings exhibit a
rigorous logic. Bernard attempted to systematize the soul's
experience, especially its progress from self-love to love
of God. Thus Bernard attempted to probe the psychology of
the soul's religious experience. Gilson says about Bernard,
"Les deux principles auxquels il tient fermement, sont la
superiority des 6tats purement 'spirituels' sur ceux ou les
images jouent encore un rl6e, et le caractere essentielle-
ment divers, sans commune measure, des experiences mystiques
individuelles." It will be well to keep these principles
of Bernard in mind during our study of Thomas.
Thus, we have seen that in the second half of the
6Etienne Gilson, La Philosophie au Moyen Age (des origins
patristiques a la fin du XIVe siecle), 2nd rev. ed. (Paris:
Payot, 1947), pp. 241-42.
6La Th6ologie mystique de saint Bernard (Paris: Vrin,
19477, p. 116.
twelfth century, the monologue was employed for different
effects in different narratives--in some, it was mere em-
bellishment; in others, it was one of several devices of
psychological analysis; and in the Eneas, it became the very
pith of the last part of the narrative. At the same time
that the roman was developing and refining certain techniques
for the monologue, the troubadours were evolving and refining
techniques and themes similar to those we find in the romans.
There was definite interaction between the literatures of
the south and of the north, especially during Alienor's stay
in England. The penchant for analysis of the heart was very
definitely propelled by literature of a "courtly" nature and
was complemented by similar efforts in a theological vein.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE MONOLOGUES
IN THE TRISTAN OF THOMAS
Albert Pauphilet blamed Thomas for "un gout immod6re
pour l'analyse et le debat sentimental" and Reni Herval
accuses him of filling his work with "les ennuyeuses intro-
spections sentimentales." These judgments were based on
the assumption that introspection is merely an adornment
for the recit and as stch should not interfere or in any
way obtrude. But we have seen that such introspection in
the form of inner discourse was a widely practiced tech-
nique in the roman of the twelfth century and that it holds
an important place as well in the lyric poetry of the trou-
badours. We have seen, in particular, how the action of
the second part of the Eneas gravitated from the exterior
to the interior--to the hearts of Eneas and Lavinia--so
that the monologues became the expressive center of that
I believe that it is unfair to accuse Thomas of being
unable to handle the recit well and of producing an awkward
Le Legs du Moyen Age (Melun: Librairie d'Argences,
1950T7, p. 137.-
"De la Saga au Roman: Tristan et Iseult," in Saggi e
ricerche in memorial di Ettore Li Gotti (Palermo: Centre
di studi filologici e linguistic siciliani, 1962), II, 118.
tale by far inferior to the robust story of Beroul, for
example. I would suggest that the reader center his atten-
tion instead on the monologues and see in them not mere em-
bellishments of a tale but the real center of expressivity
in Thomas' version. For, if there is little action in his
version, if he has pared down the elements of intrigue, he
has stripped them away so that they will not interfere with
the interactions of his characters' hearts and minds. That,
as we shall see, is where his greatest interest lies and it
is there that he has applied his art to its best advantage.
Fragment Sneyd Le Mariage, begins with the first of
the preserved monologues by Thomas, and this text illus-
trates the author's penchant for soul-probing. It is Tris-
tan who soliloquizes. He has been separated from Iseut for
quite some time. The Cambridge Fragment, Le Verger, re-
counted this parting. The two, having been discovered by
Marc and the dwarf, had decided, upon Tristan's initiative,
to separate: "Je m'en voil aler" (1. 24). He knew at this
leave-taking that he could never again be happy: "Ja n'av-
rai hait jor de ma vie" (1. 30). Tristan has forgotten or
now doubts Iseut's words at their parting. The ring which
she gave him as a symbol of love, a "gage de fidelity" of
lovers, seems to have lost its efficacity. Tristan knew
3Moshe Lazar, Amour courtois et "fin'amors" dans la litt6-
rature du XIIe siecle (Paris: Klincksieck, 1964), p. 120.
that he was to enter upon a life of sorrow: "Fuir deport
et querre eschil,/ Guerpir joie, sievre peril" (11. 27-28).
The noun "eschil," aside from referring to his removal from
Marc's court, suggests torment and surely "peril" comports
a meaning of torment and trial (periculum 'trial' or 'test')
as well as of danger.4
In many of the monologues occurring in medieval narra-
tive, an indication is given of the physical condition of
the monologist to preface his words. There is commonly
weeping, pulling of hair, scraping of cheeks and fainting
for all types of monologue--lamentation, funeral euology
and many love monologues. The author tries to give a key
to the inner world of the character by describing his phys-
ical, exterior condition. This type of description is an
attempt to set the mood of the discourse and to translate
visibly the character's inner world. Thomas, however, does
not describe the physical effects of Tristan's mental an-
guish. His prefatory remarks remain focused only on the
When in Sneydl Thomas tells us of Tristan, "Sis corages
mue sovent,/ E pense molt diversement" (11. 1-2), he is
immediately indicating the character of the monologue. It
4Frederic Godefroy, ed. Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue
franraise (Paris: Librairie des Sciences et des Arts, 1937-
38), "essil," III, 574; A. J. Greimas, ed. Dictionnaire de
l'ancien franpais (Paris: Larousse, 1968), "essil," p. 264;
"peril," p. 466.
will take the form of a debat, wilch. considers propositions
one after another. This interiorl debate reflects the state
of mind characteristic of "fi' !mior's. MIoshe Lazar defines
"fi n' .ror" as "essen tielleme.cn t inquie tude et souffrance;
les joic.- qu' 0lle procure sent toujours provisolres. e
menacees, perpetuellement remises en question."' The words
"diversement" and "mue" themselves are also indicative of
the character of Tristan--even though he will project this
trait of volatility accusingly upon Iseut and not acknowl-
edge it in himself.
The next two lines (3-4) summarize the contents of the
debat. The conflict is between his "voleir" and his "de-
sir." Bedier, discussing another development of this con-
trast, defined "desir" as "ce qui attire Tristan vers Isolt
la reine" and "voleir" as "ce qui l'attire vers Isolt aux
Blanches Mains." With this in mind, "desir peut en some
se traduire par amour au sens plein du mot, voleir par con-
cupiscence charnelle." These distinctions will not always
apply, nor will these words always be held to these meanings,
but they serve here and it is helpful to have these distinc-
tions at hand for comparison when the words do not conform
to this plan.
As we shall see, Tristan is tormented in this mono-
logue by concupiscence charnelle, "voleir."
5Amour courtois et "fin'amors," p. 61.
6Bedier, Le Roman de Tristan par Thomas, I, 287.
Whether or not this monologue is spoken aloud cannot
be determined by the text. The "E dit dunc" is to us an
indicator of verbalization, but as we have seen, such tags
may represent the concept of thought as speech without sound,
with the emphasis upon speech and therefore the use of the
same linguistic forms. It is not impossible that Tristan
would literally voice his soliloquy, and the verb "dit" does
contrast with the verbs of the first two lines--"Sis corages
mue" and "pense." The verb may represent a sort of fulmina-
tion. On the other hand, it is more common to voice short,
passionate thoughts and the length of this monologue might
render its verbalization implausible.
However that may be, this monologue presents today's
reader with his first occasion to behold Tristan examining
Lazar describes the climate of the lover away from
La separation, l'absence de la dame, l'attente
patient, la recompense qui se fait attendre, voila
l'atmosphere dans laquelle se developpe cette souf-
Now the suffering of Tristan is not "delicieuse." Because
there is no recompense for his suffering, Tristan's sorrow
is not like that of the troubadours. At this point, Tris-
tan cannot envision and thus cannot hope for any reward
for his service of suffering. Should he return to Iseut
7Amour courtois et "fin'amors," p. 62.
for his recompense and be found with her-, they would both be
burned by the king:
Fra nos, s'll puet, ensemble prendre,
Par jugement ardoir en cendre. (C., 22)
In contrast, the troubadour has the hope that his lady will
rew-card him--physically, iand so he can accept the sorrow with
the happiness. This hope gives him the stamina to wait pa-
tientl:y is long as his lady- makes him do so. As we know,
Iseut does not wish to deprive Tristan of the pleasures of
love; could she give him the consolation he desires, she
would. It is not a matter of testing rristan's mettle.
These facts distinguish Tristan's suffering from that of
the troubadour for whom "le mal d'amour nest. pss simple-
ment subi avec resignation . mais le plus souv.ent 7c-
cepte avec joie come une benediction divine. C'est un mal
necessaire, purifiant, et inseparable du veritable amour."
Unlike the adherent of "fin'amors," Tristan cannot accept
suffering as an integral part of love.
There are three forces at work within the monologue
which follow the mode of a trial. The first line of force
within the monologue is accusatory, the second defensive,
and the third engages a movement of resolution. Tristan
plays the three roles of prosecutor, defense and judge. We
can also think of the first movement as one of thesis, the
second, one of antithesis, and the third, one of synthesis.
8Ib1i.., p. 61.
By synthesis would be meant the combination of the two view-
points after the refining, the resolution of disparate ele-
ments. The synthesis raises the two positions to a level of
action; the synthesis presents a workable plan.
Tristan's thesis is that, since Iseut has forgotten
him because of her relationship with the king, he has no
obligation to remain faithful to her but can take physical
pleasure elsewhere. His antithesis is that Iseut has every
right to forget him but he has no right to forget or hate
her but rather he should remember her and love her faithfully.
The tension of the monologue is maintained by a continual
opposition of these two forces. Perhaps because of the
seemingly disordered character of the monologue, F. Piquet
felt that "la conduite des idees laisse a d6sirer chez
Thomas." It seems to me, however, that this tension re-
veals a finer insight on the part of Thomas.
The synthesis of the arguments is that by emulating
the situation of Iseut--marriage to another--he will come
to know her condition, how she might forget their love.
In other words, Tristan is going to attempt to rationalize
his seeking physical pleasure in the arms of another woman
as an act of remembrance and love for Iseut. As Dijkster-
huis noted, Tristan's thoughts are egotistical reflections10
and Tristan's resolution is indeed a very thinly-veiled
egoism--the antithesis of "fin'amors."
9L'Originalit6 de Gottfried de Strasbourg, p. 54.
10Thomas und Gottfried, p. 138.
To posit further argument for this "structure," we
could say that tie monologue adheres to the fundamental di-
visions of formal argument. There is the exordium in '.'.hich
Tristan calls to Iseut for her attention and tries to win
her sympathy for himi; there is the narration in 'which Tris-
tan describes his condition '.vith respect to hers; there is
a pr:-irtitio of a sort in which Tristan does not describe
the line of thought to be taken in the argument but rather
foreshadow:.' the outcome. (The function of the partition is
of course to divide the stages of the argument in order to
direct the hearer's line of thought; this is inherent in
those lines which we would describe as the partitio, that
is lines 31-34; the warning serves as a foreshadowing of
the outcome of the discourse.) Given the debate character
of Tristan's monologue, we find the confirmation and the con-
futatio wrought together. Again given the debate structure,
there is not necessarily a step-by-step development of a
line of -orgumentation, but rather the argument on one side
may provoke a response from the other and vice-versa.
Finally, there is the peroratio, the conclusion.
The monologue itself begins with an apostrophe. Tris-
tan calls across the miles to Iseut, his "bele amie" (1. 5).
This apostrophe may be seen as the exordium in which Tristan
wins, so to speak, Iseut's attention and gains her sympathy
by telling her how their love has treated him unkindly.
Though Iseut is only an imagined hearer, Tristan organizes
his thoughts ostensibly to convince her; subconsciously he
is putting forth his most convincing arguments to conquer his
own doubts. Tristan tries to gain sympathy by "telling"
Iseut that her life is very different from his. I sense an
accusation here because the verb "diverse" (1. 5) could im-
ply inconstancy, one of the traditionally belabored evils
of womankind. Godefroy gives "inconstance" as a meaning of
the noun "diverserie" which is built upon the verb diverseer"
And a meaning of the adjective "divers" is "inconstant."
The idea of inconstancy is more than likely contained in
the verb. The adverb "diversement" has a translation "mecham-
ment" and I believe that there, too, can be sensed the idea
Thomas allows Tristan to characterize Iseut with the
same word as he has used to describe Tristan: "Molt diverse
vostre vie" (1. 6). Tristan at the beginning is on the
offensive, accusing Iseut, projecting onto her the trait in
himself which is the raison d'etre for his monologue.
Tristan plays upon the homonymic rhyme "desevre"/
"decevre" in the next couplet (11. 7-8). The separation has
treated him falsely, he maintains. Separation ("desevre")
for many can be an experience in which love is heightened
and purified, but this has not been the case with Tristan
who finds himself the victim of "decevre."
In lines 9-30 Tristan gives the background for his argu-
ment. "Joie" and "deduit" are key words in this stage of
1Godefroy, II, 731 and IX, 398.
the monologue. Here is a first of many :c.:nples of Thomas'
use of tautologies. The presence of "Joie" and "dedu.it" is
aligned 'wi th Iseut and its absence is attached to Trist an.
The narratio pits pairs one against the othcr. In line
9-10, Tristan asserts that on Izeut's account he has no
"joie" or "de.uii t" whereas ahe has this pleasure both dna
and night. Contracted with her life oF "dlelit d'amur," his
i o"ne of "gr-.nt doilur ." He i s a vic tn of "diecevre."
Tristan views his life as one of yearning and unfulfillrncnt
while he characterizes Iseut's life as one of satisfaction,
fulfillment. Clearly fulfillment is a physical rratter for
Tristan--the cause of his torment is her body: "Fur v'cstre
cors su jo em paine" (1. 17). He makes no mention of her
heart. Now, "fin'amors" is certainly more than concupis-
cence and physical satisfaction on the one hand, and more
than platonic love on the other hand. As Lazar says of
Elle a pour objet a la fois le coeur et le corps de
la femme marine. Coeur et corps, ces deux mots vont
toujours de pair dans la lyrique provencalc.12
Body is not complemented by heart in Tristan's considera-
tion of Iseut. Many poets of "fin'amors" burn for the bodily
pleasure of which they are deprived. But their attitude,
as we shall see, is not the same as that of Tristan. Roz-
gonyi has pointed out that the jealousy that has taken hold
of Tristan is not consistent with his character (as far as
Scortos et finamors p. 61.
Am.,our c o urtols et "fin'amors," p. 61.
we can determine from reconstructions). Tristan has never
before been jealous nor has he doubted Iseut's love for him.
Aside from the time the two spent together in the Fossiure
a la gent amant away from the court, Tristan has never been
able to prevent Iseut from giving her body to Marc and
there is no indication that jealousy clouded his heart at
any time before this. We conclude, at Rozgonyi's sugges-
tion, that Tristan invents this jealousy as a means to come
to a decision--to extricate himself from the bonds which
compel his fidelity.13
Tristan is jealous both of the satisfaction he believes
Iseut finds in her relationship with Marc and of Marc's
being able to take pleasure in her. It is this trait, his
jealousy of Marc, that is not "courtly." Tristan develops
studiedly the contrast between himself and Marc, "mien"
and "suen." (It should be noted, however, that Tristan does
not refer to Marc using the term "mari" or "baron.") Roz-
gonyi uses this emphasis by Tristan upon the husband as a
case in point for her thesis that the Tristan of Thomas is
not a courtly poem. For Tristan, unlike the troubadours,
is unable to forget the presence of his lover's husband.
And most unlike the troubadours, he is jealous of the
husband.14 Lazar has assured us, "L'amour (fin'amors,
amor veraia, amor bona, etc.) ne peut exister enter personnel
13"Pour une approche d'un Tristan non-courtois," 823.
marlees."15 Tristan is jealous of the physical satisfac-
tion iMlarc finds in Iseut so easily and without delay or
suffering. But it is precisely this ease wi ti- which satis-
faction is C'ginod that rules out love betv:eeri husband and
w'.ife and should rule out Tristan's ,jealousy /ith regard
to husband-wife relationships, Lazar says that a husband
obtLent la satisfaction de ses desirs sans avoir be-
so:n de la courtiser, de l'implorer, de souffrir
pour elle, sans connaftre l'anxiete de l'attente et
la crainte des adulateurs, des lauzengers malveillants.
Contrairement a l'amant courtois, le mari a conquis sa
femme une fois pour toutes; il ne doit pas fournir
de perpetuels efforts pour garner ses faveurs. Dans
l'amour conjugal tout est fixe et stable, tout s'ob-
tient au nom du devoir et de la propriety . II
n'y a pas, dans la vie conjugale, cctte inclination
passionnee de l'un vers l'autre, le danger et le
risque; l'attente et le desir en suspens, la crainte
et le tremblement leur font defaut. L'amour con-
jugal est paisible et monotone; le corps de la femne
appartient a son maitre.16
As Lazar pointed out, the term "amour conjugal" is a contra-
diction. That love could not exist between husband and
wife was one of the basic tenets of courtly love and a
frequent decision in the courts of love.
Tristan is jealous of more than Marc's possession of
Iseut's body. He is also jealous that this "possession" is
a duty in marriage, without the constant danger and expecta-
tion, the fear and suspense characteristic of the courtly
lover. He is not thinking, then, of love as conceived by
the troubadours, but only of the physical satisfaction.
5Amour courtois et "fin'amors," n. 61.
Jonin also affirms that "il est clair qu'il [Tristan] con-
sidere l'acte charnel en general comme l'element essential
de l'amour."7 In effect, then, Tristan has reconciled
"love" with marriage. This is most contrary to a courtly
Tristan proves himself unequal to the test of courtly
love, for in line 21, afflicted by a case of sour grapes,
he says, "go qu'avoir ne puis claim jo quite."
Another key word is introduced in line 23--"ublie."
Tristan transfers his conception of love as physical plea-
sure to Iseut when he believes that the pleasure she takes
with Marc effaces her love for him (Tristan). There is an
example of annominatio in lines 22-23 with the use of the
verb "delite" and the substantive "delit" emphasizing Tris-
tan's obsessional preoccupation with physical satisfaction
and also his jealousy of the king. "Delit," "deduit" and
"joie" are always seen, from Tristan's point of view, as
pertaining to Iseut or Marc.
By line 23, Tristan has ceased addressing Iseut as
he prepares to depict himself as the perfect lover. All
wrong-doing has been cast onto Iseut who has found her
"joie" in her husband. Tristan, on the other hand, has
remained true, so far, to Iseut (11. 24-25). He portrays
Iseut somewhat as the dame altiere of the troubadours:
17Les Personnages feminins, p. 310. For a study of the
troubadour and jealousy, see Erich Kbhler, "Les Troubadours
et la jalousie," in Melanges de langue et de literature du
Moyen Age et de la Renaissance offers a Jean Frappier
(Geneva: Droz, 1970), I, 543-59.
"E rien comforter ne me volt,/ E si set bier, mr grant dolur/
E l'anguisse quo ai pur s'amur" (11. 26-23). '.ith the fre-
quent rhyme of "dolur"/"aimur," we are reminded of the coiurt-
ly world in w'.hich "dolur" is a necessary part of "amur.
Tristan then exposes one of the c.aue-s of his "dolur";
he says lie is the object of another woman's attention and
desire. He does not name her.
Although he does not give her name, in lines 31-34 he
warns Isput that if she does not pay attention -and pre-
;-,umably heed. his desires, he may abandon his desire for
her and submit to the other woman. It is this passage
which I believe can be called the partition. It foreshadows
the arguments whichic h will be preferred by Tristan and it
gives a clue to the outcome of hi; delibe-ratlorn. fill"
passage serves as a transition to the main part of the
monologue, the deliberation.
The first development in the interior debate is a con-
trast between "desir" and "pueir." In a most uncourtly
display, Tristan asserts:
Quant mun desir ne puis avoir,
Tenir m'estuit a mun pueir,
Car m'est avis faire l'estot:
Issi fait ki mais n'en pot. (11. 35-38)
He shows that he does not embrace the ethic of "fin'amors."
F8or a discussion of the use of "sorrow"-related words,
see Phyllis Johnson, "Dolor, dolent, et soi doloir: le
.'ocabulaire de la douleur et la conception .de i'amour
p':elon Beroul et Thomas," Romance Philology,26 (1973),
5 1 6-554.
He wishes tothrow off the role of love's martyr, a common-
place in courtly literature. In doing so, he shows himself
as less than a courtly lover, rather, a man who will settle
for what he can have here and now. He overtly challenges
the rationale and tenets of courtly love:
Que valt tant lunges demurer
E sun bien tuit diz consider? (11. 39-40)
What is the value, he questions, of waiting so long and
being deprived of "sun bien"? The "bien" Tristan has in
mind is obviously the carnal "delit d'amur."
This has been a development of the statement of line
21, confirming our belief that Tristan is not of the same
mettle as courtly lovers. This time he says that since he
cannot have what he desires, he will settle for what he can
have--that is the course one takes rather than completely
relinquishing hope for satisfaction. He is going to work
within the framework of the possible and take what is at
hand when'that which he longs for is inaccessible, beyond
his grasp. Unlike the courtly lover, rristan does not
recognize the potency of desire. He does not allow desire
to become his purifying agent.
This same reasoning is repeated:
Que valt l'amur a maintenir
Dunt nul bien ne put avenir? (11. 41-42)
This confirms Tristan's equation of "amur" with "bien."
"Amur" without "bien" is of little value--certainly of no
value to him.
The coupling of "dolurs" and "amurs" occurs again in
lines 43-44, reinforcing the sense of Tristan's suffering.
"Dolurs" occurs in the anaphoric tautology "Tantes pines,
tantes dolurs" to stress the burden Tristan bears compared
with the ".]ole" and "ded(ult" with which Tristarn marines
I-euL comports herself. :'e always have the impression that
it is Tristan who suffers most. Indeed, he Lells us that
he has suffered so much that he can non well ..'ithdra.w from
this venture, for ic has gained him no thing. "Retra i ro"
("-'.e retraire," 1. 45) vias a commonly employed verb of the
courtly lyric meaning "ne plus servir, ne plus aimer la
dame." However, in courtly lyric the verb is usually
negated to show the poet-lover's inability and unwilling-
ness to withdraw from the service of his lady. His answer,
then, to the question regarding the value of maintaining
love (11. 41-42) is "rien" (1. 46).
Again, in line 47, Tristan blames Iseut--i c is she who
is to blame for his situation, for his losing interest in
maintaining their relationship; she has forgotten him be-
cause her disposition and sentiment has changed. The thought
of her change brings an impassioned outburst in which Tristan
1This seems to be a general conception of Tristan. For
example, Bernard de Ventadour:
Plus trac pena d'amor
de Tristan 1'amador,
que'n sofri manhta dolor
per Izeut la blonda.
in Chansons d'amour, ed. Mosh6 Lazar (Paris: Klincksieck,
19D6), p. 74.
H. Binet, Le Style de la lyrique courtoise en France aux
7II" et XIIIC siecles (Paris: Bouillon, 1891T, p. 35.
calls out to God (line 49) to explain the volatility of the
human heart--in particular her inconstancy. For his insist-
ence is again upon her change--he is the injured party. Con-
trary to her fickleness, he insists that he is steadfast,
that he never wants to break the bond of their love. He be-
gins to dissert upon the quality of that love--the ability
of their'hearts to always commune. He says that he cannot
understand how she could have abandoned her love for him
because if she had, he would have known it in his heart:
Mal, ne bien, ne rien ne fist,
Que mis cuers tost nel sentist. (11. 57-58)
This assertion forms a bridge to Tristan's defense of Iseut.
His defense of her is that he knows in his heart that she
has remained faithful to.him in hers. He now denies his
previous declaration that since he cannot have what he wants,
he should take what he can get. This action would seem to
bring him back perhaps as a repentant candidate for court-
ly lover. He now proclaims that he has no right to change
his relationship with Iseut by seeking satisfaction else-
Car tant nos sumes entremis
E noz cors en amur malmis,
S'avoir ne puis mun desir,
Que pur altre deive languir . . (11. 65-68)
Bedier found structure of these lines confusing and there-
fore he rejected this text.21 However jarring at first,
21Bedier, Le Roman de Tristan par Thomas, I, 264.
this trait of Thomas--an irregular construction in which
the elements of one thought are separated--will reappear
and will be understood. The "Que" of line 68 is dependent
upon the adverb "tant" of line 65. The idea is that 'we
are so embroiled with each other and our bodies so tormented
by our love for each other for me to be able to languish for
someone other than you, even if I cannot find fulfillment
for my yearning for you.' B6dier translated "noz cors" as
"nous-m6mes,22 but it would not be inadmissible to see in
a translation of "our bodies" Tristan's insistence upon the
physical aspects of love.
Iseut is acquitted of blame because although she has
the will ("voleir"), she does not have the power ("poeir")
to do anything but to submit to her husband. Tristan should
not be resentful of this course of action on her part. And
furthermore, he does not know if or how it afflicts her to
not be able to give him that satisfaction.
Tristan addresses Iseut once again (1. 75), this time
telling her that he has not perceived inconstancy on her
part but feels in his heart that she has thought well of
him and has good thoughts for him. But turning from her,
he is still plagued by the thought that he is deceived in
love and asks himself how she might have changed. He knows
that he could not deceive her nor she him because of the
powers of communication between their hearts. He does not
22Ibid., II, 411.
suggest that she might now be tormented in her heart for the
thoughts he is harboring in his, however.
Nevertheless, and here he pivots to his former posi-
tion, he senses the separation, whether or not it is willed
deception on her part; now contradicting lines 59-61, he
states that he feels in his heart that she loves him either
very little or not at all.
The next lines develop another device common to the
monologue--the interior dialogue (fictitious dialogue) in
which opposing forces within the soul do battle. This par-
ticular monologue does not make use of a trait common to
monologic d6doublement du soi: the parts of the self do
not become "tu" and "je"; both are seen in the first person
perspective, as Biller has pointed out.23 This argumenta-
tion too has a legal character--the defense interrogates
the plaintiff regarding his stand. This questioning is
followed by a show of bravado in lines 95-96: 'let her
love her husband; let her keep to him; he does not ask
that she remember him!' He then reverts to her defense
(but it is to his advantage, of course), saying that he
does not blame her if she forgets him, because she should
23G. Biller, Etude sur le style des premiers romans fran-
cais en vers (1150-1175) TGbteborg: Gbteborgs Higskolas
Arsskrift, IV, 1916), pp. 164-65. F. M. Warren, "Some
Features of Style in Early French Narrative Poetry (1150-
1170)," Modern Philology 3 (1906), 538, says that the
"broken lines of debate with themselves emphasize the
anxiety of lovers in their monologue."
not languish for him--it Is not appropri? te to her great
beauty.2 Tristan maintains that her continued considera-
tion for him is not appropriate to her nature. Is this a
bitter commentary on the mutability of human desire, espe-
cially of worran? Iow: Tristan does a complete about-face.
He- had previously stated that the,, both w'.er-- too involved
with each other for him to set his sight upon a different
woman; but now, using the same rhyme "desir"/"languir,"
he absolves Iseut of having to languish for him, subtly
laying the groundwork for his own dispensation. He says
that it is not suitable for her to pine for another (Tris-
tan) when her "desir" is fulfilled by her husband. "Desir"
has meant more than "voleir" elsewhere; it often has de-
noted physical satisfaction, or again the very absence of
consummating pleasure. "Desir," here though, most certain-
ly includes the physical fulfillment; so we are led to be-
lieve either that "desir" is equated with "voleir" or that
"desir" in its full sense of love is found in marriage.
On the other hand, we must not expect Thomas to pin down
the meanings of words too much. With his psychological
insight, Thomas is aware that we often use words to our
own advantage, choosing a particular shade of meaning with
24In the fragments, we have no description of Iseut's
great beauty. Thomas merely tells us she is beautiful.
But we can presume that he sees her as the type familiar to
us from the other romans of the period in which the effictio
is an important element in the narrative.
a particular motive in a particular situation. Thomas is
also aware that such words as desire, love, etc. are broad
designations which cover a wide spectrum of complex inter-
actions of the heart and mind. In this same development,
Tristan sets up the comparisons "rei"/"mei." Then, too, he
uses the comparison "m'amur"/"le delit sun seignur," setting
more value upon the "delit." This will be taken up further
in lines 124-25.
Again in a display of nonchalance, Tristan says that
it is quite natural, in accordance with nature ("naturelment"),
that she act this way. Let her hold on to what she can have
and turn it to her advantage:
Prenge co que puet avoir,
E aturt bien a sun voleir:
Par jueir, par sovent baisier
Se puet l'en issi accorder. (11. 113-16)
"Aveir" and "voleir" can be reconciled. Or, put differently,
Iseut's "aveir" can become so appealing that her "voleir"
will gravitate from Tristan to the "aveir." So what good
does it do him, he asks, to remember her? Whether he does
or not does not matter to her because she can have her
"joie" and "delit" despite love, "encuntre amur."
Pizzorusso says of the next lines, "Un altro aspetto
costante dello stile di Thomas si rivela nei vv. 126-135:
la forma sentenziosa per cui si passa dal caso individual
a quello general e viceversa; inoltre ricorrono le figure
caratteristiche della ratiocinatio, come la dubitatio,
unita alla interrogazione retorica ai vv. 125-128, la
correction ai vv. 131-132." Tristan is preparing for his
resolution by this argument. He has already granted that
he should not hate that which he has loved, but says it is
permissible to "se destolir"--once again synonymous for "ne
pas (plus) servir"--to go away and take pleasure when he
sees no reason to love. By the insistence upon the words
"veit raisun" (1. 134) and "raisun veit" (1. 136), Tristan
tries to convince himself of the logic of the resolution he
will take. The word "rair.un" is employed in the sense of
ratio, "cioe legittimo motivo di un azione."'2 Frappier
interprets "raisun" in this instance in the same manner--
"motif, cause qui pousse a agir ou explique une action."27
In this case, "le mot comporte alors l'idee d'un motif
justement raisonne, resultant d'une deliberation int6rl-
eure."' That is certainly true here.
The most interesting argument, the central argument,
is proposed ii lines 137-48. It is based on the opposi-
tion of "franchise" and "colvertise."29 Rechnitz made an
interesting observation concerning lines 137-48 of Wind's
"La retorica nel Tristano di Thomas," 29-30.
7Jean Frappier, "Sur le mot 'raison' dans le Tristan de
Thomas," in Linguistic and Literary Studies in honor of
Helmut A. Hatzfeld (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America
Press, 1964), p. 165.
29See Bedier, Le Roman de Tristan par Thomas, I, 267-69,
for a discussion of his corrections. His text prohibits
the syllogistic development described by Rechnitz.
edition (lines 189-200 in Bedier). He maintains that the
difficulties of the text are a result of Thomas' clumsiness
rather than a lack of clarity and that they can be put into
"Die ganze Stelle ist ein schulmassiger Syllogismus:
praemissa major = v. 197 bis 200, praemissa minor =
v. 189-94, conclusion v. 195-96. Dass die conclusion
vor der pr. maior mitgeteilt wird, andert an dem
Pedantismus der Darstellung nichts."30
If we reconstruct this syllogism, we shall be able to follow
the thought of Tristan more easily. The major premise is
that one should love "franchise" and fear "colvertise,"
and so for the sake of "franchise" one should serve (the
verb servir is synonymous with aimer in courtly vocabulary)31
while one should feel aversion for "colvertise." The minor
premise is that when one commits an act of "franchise" and
then an act of "colvertise" (as Iseut has done in loving
Tristan and then giving herself to ,larc), one should adhere
to "franchise" so that one does not render evil for evil;
the force of one act should attenuate the other so that
their effects are balanced. The conclusion, then, in the
form of an admonition, is that one should not love too
much on account of "colvertise" (which one should fear),
nor should one hate the other too much because of the
30F. Rechnitz, "Bemerkungen zum Texte des Tristan von
Thomas und der beiden Folies Tristan," Zeitschrift fur
franzbsische Sprache und Literatur, 36 (1910), 293.
31Binet, p. 85.
"franchise" (which one must love).
This development is reminiscent of Eneas:
I.oit 11 estolt propre fortune:
fortune lo ra esbaudi,
qui de ciev'ianrt 1'av,.:, t rnm rri.
Por ce ne dolt ihom desperur,
5e lui usto-et inm l andujIrcer,
et co 11 ra tot son plaisir,
done ne se doit trop esjoir,
ne por grant mal trop esmaier,
ne por grant bien trop deslier;
et d'un et d'el, de tot measure;
unS blens, uns mals toz tens ne dure.
Tristan's resolution is based on moderation. Hie goes from
the general back to the particular--Iseut--to apply the
principles of the argument. He must not hate her.
I believe the punctuation in Bedier's text (his lines
203-204) is better than that in WVind's edition for lines
151 and 152. B6dier gives:
Pur go ne la dei jo hair,
Pur chose que puisse avenir;
whereas Wind (in a possible oversight?) shows:
Pur co ne la dei hair.
Pur chose que puisse avenir; (11. 151-52)
Bedier's punctuation best fosters the idea that Tristan ought
not hate Iseut for something which can happen to anyone in a
But although he avers that he cannot hate Iseut, he
still wishes to withdraw his amorous service to her, "se
2Ed. J. J. Salverda de Grave (Paris: Champion, 1925-29,
retraire," as she does--"Cum ele le fait" (1. 158). How can
he do as she does unless he too takes a legitimate spouse?
It must be a legitimate spouse, "Car cil est sis dreit
espus/ Ki fait l'amur partir de nos" (11. 167-68). At this
point Tristan insists that Iseut cannot set aside her duty
to Marc (11. 169-70). Such an assertion allows Tristan to
accomplish his end so that at least he reaches the solution
to his quandary:
Mais mei n'estuit faire mie,
Fors que assaier voldrai sa vie:
Jo voil espuser la meschine
Pur saveir l'estre a la reYne,
Si l'espusaille e 1'assembler
Me pureient li faire oblier
Si cum ele pur sun seignur
Ad entroblie nostre amur. (11. 171-78)
Tristan clothes this uncourtly proposal in dressing as al-
truistic as he can create. He says he is doing this as a
test, not to show his spite--"Nel faz mie li pur hair"
(1. 179)--but rather to share in her own experience, to con-
vince himself that "sine ira et studio, il peut ceder aux
charmes d'un nouvel amour qui present le plus grand avan-
tage de lui apprendre comment le marriage a pu guerir Iseult
de son amour.33
As Biller noted, Thomas seems to neglect courtly love
terminology.34 Iseut is his "bele amie" but she is not
seen effecting any goodness on the part of Tristan; she does
34Etude sur le style, p. 83.
not inspire him to meritorious deeds or if not deeds in the
sense of exploits, conduct. And Iseut aux Blanches Mains
is addressed as "Ma bele amie" as well in line 623. Tris-
tan's use of the epithet, then, does not have any affinity
(or else he has suppressed it) with its use in literature
colored by "fin'amors."
A device which appears frequently in Thomas is not,
according to Binet, readily found in the courtly lyric:
"Les interrogations oratoires ne sont pas tries frequentes,
malgre le caractere tout artificial de la lyrique cour-
toise." Nor does Thomas make use of Ovidian imagery, al-
though he assuredly was familiar with it. He does not pre-
sent any of the well-known metaphors of Love the archer with
his arrows, Love the hunter with his traps and nets, Love
the fisherman with his hooks. Tristan does not see himself
as a soldier in Love's ranks and service. He does not say
that Love has wounded him and, when he speaks of love, it
is not Love personified or idealized. We do not see Tris-
tan suffer the plight of Ovid's lovers who turn pale then
flushed, cold then hot, etc. He does not see himself as
"fou" as do Ovid's lovers or give his monologue the tags of
desperation common in so many monologues--"Las" and "Con
Tristan's monologue lacks the gracefulness of ideas of
35e Style de la lyriue courtoise, p. 85.
Le Style de la lyrique courtoise, p. 85.
Ovid and his school perhaps, but it does not lack ideas nor
does it lack rhetorical skill. Thomas deftly employs the
rhetoric so familiar to his clerical training.
The soliloquy has elements of both deliberative and
forensic speech. Of course the deliberative elements pre-
dominate, for this monologue is one of deliberation. But
there are forensic elements in the volley of "jo"/"vos"
statements described earlier which treat past action with
reference to the present condition of both parties. The
deliberation finds its most forceful presentation in the
rhetorical questions and the grand syllogism, all having
reference to the future course of action. In his speech,
Tristan appeals to reason (most notably by the syllogism)
and the emotions (in his portrayal of his dismal state of
being compared to everyone else's happiness and in his
display of good will). With the aim of winning Iseut's
confidence in his reasoning and argument, her admiration
and sympathy, he makes ethical appeals:
Jo ne faz fors vos desirer . (1. 13)
En mun courage si en despite
Tutes altres pur sule Ysolt . (11. 24-25)
Nel faz mie li pur hair . (1. 179)
When we speak of winning Iseut's confidence, we seem to be
violating the nature of the monologue, but we have seen
that Tristan's monologue is at times addressed to Iseut;
it is designed to convince her if she could hear him. Most
importantly, it is designed to convince Tristan himself and
so Tristan the monologist must speak convincingly to Trlstan
Thomas has created Tristan's monologue with antithesis:
"voleir" and "poeir," "voleir" and desire, desire and
"avoir," etc.; the idea of change as reflected in the ful-
fillment Iseut has and the empty existence Tristan leads;
the delight Mlarc now takes in Iseut and the delight Tristan
no longer has; the pinese" and "dolurs" which characterize
Tristan and the "joie" and "delit" he attributes to Iseut
and Marc. Pizzorusso says, "L'opposizione tra la vita
triste e solitaria di Tristano e quella confortata dall'
more d'Isotta e di Marco, si traduce formalmente nel'
antitesi continue dei vocaboli jo e vos, grant dolur e delit
d'amur, paine e joie, mien e suen.3
The contrast "jo"/"vos" is symptomatic of "die Zwei-
heit" which Dijksterhuis finds in Thomas, the duality rather
than the unity of the lovers.37 For Tristan it is a matter
of "she" and "me" more than it is of "we." The pronoun
"we" is never used as a subject although there are four
instances of the possessive adjective: "La nostre amur tant
6"La retorica nel Tristano di Thomas," 29.
7Gottfried und Thomas, pp. 136-37. Dijksterhuis believes
that Gottfried, on the other hand, presents the unity (union)
of Tristan and Iseut throughout their destiny. The Tristan
of Gottfried does not, for instance, find joy and sorrow
antithetical but rather finds sorrow an integral part of his
development, a purifying agent for his love of Iseut.
se desevre" (1. 7), "E noz cors en amur malmis" (1. 66),
"E quant ele nostre amur oblie" (1. 153), "ele pur sun
seignur/ Ad entroblie nostre amur" (11. 177-78). As the
object of a preposition, "nos" occurs in line 168: "Car
cil est ses dreit espus/ Ki fait l'amur partir de nos"
(11. 167-68). Whenever "we" occurs, it is in the presence
of a verb or adjective which acts as a separator--"desevre,"
"partir," or a cancelling factor--"malmis," "oblie," "en-
troblie." One might argue that this is inherent in the
situation of their being apart. But it is an important
aspect in the final analysis of Thomas' conception of the
love of Tristan and Iseut.
Tristan's monologue recalls in some ways the soliloquy
(actually the soliloquies) of Lavinia in the Eneas when she
finds herself "an grant destroit" for Eneas (8643). She
also considers the two-sidedness of love and the need for
response from the object of one's love:
Lasse, comant porrai amcr,
si ge ne truis d'amor mon per?
Ce m'est avis que ge foloi,
sel voil amer et il n'aint moi . .
and the need for constancy:
Puet l'an done si partir amor? (Eneas, 8281)
Qui bien aimme ne puet boisier;
si est leals, ne puet changier . .
She asserts her own faithfulness in love:
. Ce ne ferai ge mie
que de m'amor face parties,
ni ii voll pas d'amor boisier,
o lui n'i avra parconier;
que qu'il m'an doie avenir,
ja de s'amor ne quier partir;
ge ne sui mie ancor a change.
but laments that her love is not reciprocated:
Molt vos est po de vostre amie.
Lavinia's monologue is colored by the freshness of her love.
Her ecstasy and her suffering are experienced for the first
time, her doubts cloud her mind for the first time whereas
one knows that Tristan has loved long and has suffered long.
One senses that this debate within his soul has taken place
before. And so it is not the rhetoric per se which stifles
and mutes the passion which, though in his heart, does not
break loose in his soliloquy; rather it is our knowledge that
Tristan has felt this torment for so long, has iterated these
arguments so many times before in his soul. He wants to
finally resolve these conflicting feelings and so this time
he does try to organize them by making a careful selection
of the best of his previous arguments. Thus the polished
character of this monologue.
Tristan makes great use of repetition in its various
forms, following in this Geoffroi de Vinsauf's later ex-
hortation: "Multiplice forma/ Dissimuletur idem./ Varius
sit, tandem idem." There is both repetition of words
38Geoffroi de Vinsauf, De l'amplificatione, 11. 224-25
in Edmond Faral, Les Arts poetiques du XIIe et du XIIIe
siecle (Paris: Champion, 1934), p. 204.
and ideas. We have seen examples of annominatio in lines 22
and 23, anadiplosis in lines 34 and 35, the repetition of a
single word, the adjective "tantes" in line 43. There are
examples of anaphora (a device greatly admired in Wace),
synonymy, and paralellism--the repetition of ideas, either
in the same or different words. Pizzorusso gives a list of
rhetorical devices used in the Sneyd1 Fragment, and she also
points out that the terms "se," "mais," "car," "donc,"
"quant," "pur So" are the apparatus of the quaestio which,
coupled with his preference for abstract terms, recalls the
technique and tone of controversial and suasoriae. So in
this sense, at least, Thomas is following an Ovidian tradi-
Because his behavior is complex, we need elucidation
to understand and follow the intricacy of Tristan's mental
action, the motivation for that action. That means going
through his thoughts and feelings step by step with him,
repeating the most convincing of the arguments until he
has talked himself into definitive action. Such minute
analysis might be called precieux for the excessive refine-
ment found in both the thought and its expression. The
probing of the heart and soul is characteristic of courtly
literature, of course. And so some, for that reason, see
in Thomas a "courtly version." But Rozgonyi, noting the
strong tone of this monologue, believes that "la violence
39"La retorica nel Tristano di Thomas," 31, 37-38.
des sentiments, l'idee mnme de la haine denonce un monde
stranger, un monde primitif, une sphere de sentiments plus
elementaires et plus violent que celle de 1'ideal courtois."'0
I think that her judgment is not necessarily applicable. The
"hatred" here is merely hypothetical. Tristan questions howv
one can hate (11. 128-30) and affirms that one should not
hate (11. 131, 14.4-4 151, 156, 179). If there is hate,
it in only in Tristan's interpretation of Iseut's conduct
and is offered as that. Tristan is agonizing .i th the pangs
of separation and cannot sublimate his desire in the manner
of the troubadours. But this is not to say that the char-
acter of the monologue is violence and hatred. Jealousy--
yes, but hatred--no, because he is consciously striving to
be equitable. Such ratiocination as is seen in this mono-
logue can hardly be called primitive and violent because it
serves to weaken the display of passion. It is only with
regard to the courtly ideal that Tristan's monologue shows
primitiveness. But taken out of that sphere, we cannot
describe the soliloquy by the terms "violence" and "haine."
I do agree that Rozgonyi is right in saying: that this mono-
logue is an example of a subject that "refusait de se plier
aux regles de la fine amor, et ou l'introspection, malgre
son caractere essentiellement courtois, revele des compli-
cations que l'on chercherait en vain dans d'autres oeuvres
4"Pour une approche d'un Tristan non-courtois," 824.
de l'ipoque."41 I agree that this particular monologue gives
evidence that Tristan is not "courtly." Thomas is using a
technique which the adherents and aspirants of "fin'amors"
and amour courtois found valuable and which they admired in
his work. Thomas himself is aware that his subject cannot
be bent. However, I suggest that judgment of Tristan be
suspended until we have looked at his second monologue.
This monologue is not colored with Ovidjan imagery as
are, for example, the monologues of Lavinia and Eneas and
those of Cliges, much admired for their psychology of love.
Rather, it is the character's thought process itself with
which Thomas is concerned and this is shown in his prefer-
ence for abstract terms and almost mathematical manipula-
tion of ideas.
We will see again Thomas' concern to delay, or rather
to de-emphasize the r6cit, the exterior action. Indeed
the only action which interests Thomas is that which takes
place in his characters' souls. There is the real center of
The first monologue is complemented by a second of
equal length (lines 411-588) in the same fragment, Sneyd.
Again it is Tristan who soliloquizes. Fortunately, this
second monologue has more narrative preparation than the
first. And so for this second interior discourse, we have
keener insight into the creative method of Thomas.
Tristan's first monologue was the consideration of
love and marriage by a bachelor who understood love merely
as physical satisfaction and believed it to be a contract
which can be easily broken. The monologue was finely handi-
crafted with his most persuasive, most polished rhetoric.
That which appeared as spontaneity in the speech--the dra-
matic movements of direct address, questions, interior dia-
logue--was more truly a careful calculation on the part of
Tristan. The elimination of doubt--or more properly, sup-
pression--was necessary to the plausibility of the advance-
ment of the tale. It was the subversion of doubt which fa-
cilitated Tristan's marriage to the other Iseut. At that
point, Tristan was convinced that his marriage was within
his rights. Now he is painfully aware of his betrayed
duty to Iseut la Blonde.
When Thomas tells us in line 385 that "Li jors tres-
passe od le deduit," he is already giving the reader a sig-
nal of the impending mood. This line is noteworthy in two
respects. First, the day passes and takes all pleasure
with i.t; this is a key to the distressful tone of the prox-
imal soliloquy. Secondly, "deduit" had been used by Tris-
tan as synonymous with carnal pleasure. Tristan will soon
be afforded'such delectation. But in line 385 we are told
that the pleasure is gone with the day's festivities. This
line, then, by shifting the meaning of "deduit" to which
Tristan had accustomed us, is also a clue to the uncon-
As his new wife is prepared for bed, so is Tristan.
Thomas gives us one significant detail about the tunic of
Tristan--it fits well but is tight at the wrist (1. 390).
As the tunic is removed from his arms, it pulls along with
it the ring given by Iseut, the symbol of Tristan's love
and fidelity to her. The ring serves as the vehicle for
contemplation, for as he sees it he is led to a new thought.
As it is perceived by the eyes, so immediately is the ring's
significance grasped by his soul. Tristan does not need
to stop to dwell upon its meaning, the circumstances sur-
rounding his acceptance of it, or his vow of fidelity. All
these are already present in his soul, having only been
veiled, temporarily obscured, lulled to sleep by the smooth
rhetoric of his first monologue. The ring vigorously awak-
ens his soul to affect a repentance (1. 402).
Once again Tristan is trapped in anguish. The "an-
guisse" (1. 397) is closely tied to the basic meaning of
angustia(e) as a strait, a narrow place. In the conclu-
sion of his first soliloquy, Tristan seemingly liberated
himself from the narrow confines of his conscience. But
here, Tristan feels the walls close in around him once
more and he does not know what to do to escape the prison.
That which he had hoped to exploit, "sis poers" (1. 399),
is now impotent. Even though he is capable of accomplishing
his "volente" (1. 400), something of the "poers" prevents it
and summons up a repentance for his misdeed. Line 403 repro-
duces the negativity of line 399; his "poers" is in opposi-
tion to his "volente" because his deed is now afflictive and
repugnant, "a contraire" (1. 399). It is interesting to
note the dual quality of several of the words chosen by
Thomas in reference to Tristan. Many of the words are terms
which are also appropriate to a military vocabulary. Some
of the words selected by Thomas heighten the sense of war-
fare within Tristan's soul. I have pointed out the word
"anguisse" and now I would add that "estreitement" (1. 401)
reinforces that idea of narrow confinement as well as Indi-
cates the profundity of thought which Wind suggests. How-
ever, Jean-Charles Payen takes issue with Wind's interpre-
tation and advises that the word translates as "avec dou-
leur."43 This meaning, of course, brings "estreitement" in
close alignment with the sense of sorrow in "anguisse." I
believe that neither definition contradicts the other and
that each adds to the insight into the mood for which Thomas
is preparing us. Further, in her study of the word "doloir"
in Thomas, Johnson affirms:
Du point de vue etymologique, le phenomene de la
souffrance se traduit chez Thomas a travers un vo-
cabulaire ou priment les sons. See heros suspirent
4Les Fragments du Roman du Tristan, p. 182. Wind gives
these meanings of "estreitement": "estreitement, rigoureuse-
4Le Motif du repentir dans la literature franchise medi-
evale (des origins a 123 ) (Geneva: Droz, 1968), p. 357.
et se pleinent sous le poids de la grevance et de la
pesance, d'ou une irreductible anguisse au sens
d'ANGUSTIA, c'est-a-dire d'un 'lieu resserre' don't
ils ne peuvent se degager."44
"Destreit" in line 406 picks up the thread of military nu-
ance. Another verb common to warfare as well as to love
is "se retraire." I had previously noted the use of this
verb in its courtly sense, but here it does mean precisely
"retreat," "withdraw." Tristan retreats into the depths
of his heart, having been confined in the straits of his
conscience which prevented him from taking advantage of any
"delit" with someone other than Iseut la Blonde.
It was the ring given him in the garden which prevents
him from entering the alcove. The garden and the alcove
are familiar motifs of the erotic poetry of the troubadours.
They are the scenes of the rendez-vous in which the lover
hopes to find his expectations fulfilled.45 But here, Tris-
tan remembers the garden with Iseut la Blonde and this mem-
ory thwarts his attempt to enjoy the alcove with Iseut aux
The tag "A sei dit" of line 411 indicates the interi-
ority of the discourse, in addition to the phrase "De par-
funt cuer" of the previous line. Whereas in the first mon-
ologue Tristan's first utterance was an accusation of
Iseut, here it is a question centered upon himself. This
44"Dolor, dolent, et soi doloir," 550.
45L pp. 123-24.
Lazar, pp. 123-24.