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With specific reference to Gottfried’s version of the tale, this research will critically analyse the theme of trickery and the trickster figure. In this epic tale, three tricksters can…
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or trickery, but also for trickery as a tool of literature that undermines its claims to truth and goodness in making these claims wholly contingent on the recognition of the text as good. As Tristans pupil in formal education as well as trickery, Isolde the Blonde (distinct from the two other Isoldes, the Queen of Ireland and Isolde of the White Hands) for a brief time demonstrates her own acumen as a trickster before it unravels when Marke discovers them.
An example from the text is helpful in uncovering the complexities to be expected in Gottfrieds brand of trickery. In a sense, it is easy to explain the motivation the adult Tristan has in exercising trickery; to continue his affair with Isolde, he must trick those who would hinder it. It is more difficult to explain, for example, his motivation when he first encounters the friendly pilgrims upon his arrival in Cornwall, to whom he lies without any apparent provocation:
Now Tristan was shrewd and cautious for his years and started to tell them a pretty tale. “Good sirs,” he told them, “I was born in this country and with some others was to have ridden out hunting in this forest here today, but (myself I know not how) I rode out of touch with both huntsmen and hounds. Those who knew the forest-paths all fared better than I, because, having no track, I rode astray and got lost. I then hit on a cursed trail which brought me to the edge of a gully where, try as I would, I would not curb my horse from plunging headlong down. We ended up, my horse and I, lying in a heap together. Then I failed to get to my stirrup in time to prevent its snatching the reins and careering off into the forest. And so I came to this path, which has brought me as far as this. But I cannot say where I am, nor in which direction I must go.” (76)
This elaborate story is a miniature autobiography and the pilgrims respond with sympathy, giving Tristan further reason to persist with his trickery. The pilgrims happily take Tristan with ... Read More
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