Monologue in the Tristan of Thomas

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Monologue in the Tristan of Thomas
Mitsch, Ruthmarie Hamburge, 1949-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Death ( jstor )
Interior monologues ( jstor )
Laments ( jstor )
Literary dialogue ( jstor )
Love ( jstor )
Love poetry ( jstor )
Monologues ( jstor )
Narrative poetry ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Romance Languages and Literatures -- UF ( lcsh )
Romance Languages and Literatures thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 198-209.
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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.


ACKN'l O'LEDGM,[ENTS . . . . . . . . ..

KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . .

OF MONOLOGUE . . . . . . .

Definition and General Discussion
of Monologue . . . . . . .
Monologue in Selected Classical Authors
lMonologue in Selected Twelfth-Century



Literature . . . . . .


Sneyd1 5-182 . . . . .
Sneyd 411-588 . . . . .
Douce, 1615-94 . . . . .
Douce, 1760-70 .
Douce, 1811-15; Sneyd 783-808 .

OF THOMAS . . . . . . .

Dialogue . . . . . . .
Description . . . . . .
Narrator-to-Audience . . . .
Third-Person Narration . . .

CONCLUSION . . . . . . . .

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . .


* 11

. iv

S. 1

. 15

. 15
. 23

. . 57
* . 58
. 89
S. . 118
. .. 131
. 134

* .

* *

* .
* .

* .

* .







* .


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



Ruthmarie Hamburge Mitsch

August, 1974

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

spiritual climate.",4

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,

II, 821-28).

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.
(p. 198)

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.

of investigation.

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.


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

the monologue.

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

imply length.

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

be considered.

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

this form.

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
Ke llogg.

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
an audience.b

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

is masterful:

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

esteemed tradition.

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-

eval narrative:

. 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),
p. 363.

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
26 27
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

of Medea.35

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-

tlonr .

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.
Niemeyer, 1903).
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
c- 7
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,
1 7.

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.


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.

Sneyd1, 5-182

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

interior world.

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 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

his lady:

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-
france delicieuse.7

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

of inconstancy.11

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 "" 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.

1 5
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
19 C
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.
2Ibid., 31.
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.
(11. 674-84)32

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

similar situation.

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

33Rozgonyi, 824.
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

mar fu."

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

the audience.

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 . .
(Eneas, 8171-74)

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 . .
(Eneas, 8283-84)

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.
(Eneas, 8301-8307)

but laments that her love is not reciprocated:

Molt vos est po de vostre amie.
(Eneas, 8356)

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

Thomas' roman.

Sneyd1, 411-588

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

41Ibid., 822.

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-

summated marriage.

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

Blanches Mains.

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.