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Forbidden Love and Adulterous Affairs: An Analysis of the Portrayal of Tristan and Isolde throughout the Ages

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This project examines the literary figures of Tristan and Isolde, looking to see how each character is portrayed, how their portrayals change through time, and takes a socio-cultural perspective in

This project examines the literary figures of Tristan and Isolde, looking to see how each character is portrayed, how their portrayals change through time, and takes a socio-cultural perspective in attempts to explain why these portrayals were used, and why they changed. Three different versions of the Tristan and Isolde story from three different time periods were used: Le Morte Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory from the 1400's, Idylls of The King by Lord Alfred Tennyson from the 1800's, and the film Tristan + Isolde distributed by 20th Century Fox in the mid 2000's. For each version of the story, the primary text or film, along with secondary sources, were used to determine how each character was portrayed. This was done by examining Tristan and Isolde's physical appearances, stations in life, actions, and personality/tone. These portrayals from each version were then compared with portrayals from the other versions to determine what changes had occurred. Finally, secondary textual information was used to examine the culture in which each version was originally published, specifically examining such socio-cultural changes that could explain why the previously determined portrayals of Tristan and Isolde were used and why they differ from versions of these characters from different time periods. The results of this study found that some characteristics of Tristan and Isolde's portrayals do not change through time. Specifically, their physical appearances and stations in life are, for the most part, fixed. Tristan is always a handsome, strong, and noble knight/warrior while Isolde is always a beautiful and delicate princess. Other characteristics, such as personality/tone and actions do change drastically from one version to the next in accordance with the changing culture in which the authors and audience members lived.

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  • 2015-05