In Cretien de Troyes' Ywain, The Knight of The Lion courtly love displays its affects and cruelty on Lord Ywain. What seems most ironic is that while Lord Ywain is portrayed as such a powerful and dominating character, he chooses to be controlled by Laudine. Not only is he emotionally controlled by his queen, but is physically affected. Even though men were in power of their land and people, the women controlled man emotionally and physically through courtly love.
After killing Laudine's lord, Ywain observes how sad Laudine is. In this time period, morning a loved one was foolish and selfish, since being accepted to the afterlife was meant to be praised. Seeing this, Ywain becomes entrapped by Laudine. "With great difficulty my Lord Ywain restrained himself from running out to hold her hands, whatever might happen" (Troyes 22). Knowing that if he approaches Laudine at this time he would be killed, but his heart went out to her wanting to console her.
Cretien objectifies Ywain's love by basing his feelings for Laudine through a tiny hole in a window, where he is watching her tear herself apart over her dead lord. Ywain falls in love at first site.
Knowing that he needs an item of proof of his adventure to show the others, especially Kay, Ywain is temped to take something of the corpse. He yields to do so, that his heart has become tamed by Laudine. "If he were to have no testimony or proof, he would be shamedÃ¢ÂÂ¦Yet, with sugar and honey-comb the new Love was now taming him" (Troyes 23). As Laudine keeps mourning, Ywain becomes more in love with her. Not knowingly Laudine has complete control over Ywain's body and mind.
After Laudine is told that Ywain is the one who defeated her husband, her advisor Lunette convinces her to take him to be her new lord. Cretien portrays love to be imprisonment by giving Laudine power over Ywain. "'She wishes to have you in her power, and she want to lay hold of your person so that even you heart is not at liberty.' 'Very well', he said. 'I am entirely willing. That will not pain me at all for I want to be in her prison'" (Troyes 33). Lunette warns Ywain that she will have his heart for herself, and by no means will he ever escape her love, for she controls him. Without hesitation Ywain accepts this by saying he is in "no pain" and would enjoy honoring her with his love.
After wedding Laudine, Ywain hosts the king and his guests. Upon departure, the king requests that Ywain joins him to complete various adventures and honor his kingdom. With such a hard decision to make, his loved Gawain confronts him, persuading him to come to Brittan. "'Will you be one of those men who are worth the less because of their wives?' 'May that man be shamed by Saint MaryÃ¢ÂÂ¦I would leave such a lady very reluctantly. In my opinion in fact, I would be Love's fool'" (Troyes 42-43). Gawain attempts to relieve Ywain of the guilt he is facing in this decision. He questions Ywain's knighthood by saying "will you be on those men". Being a noble knight and friend, Gawain convinces Ywain that he must join the king. But with the power Laudine's love has on Ywain, she grants him permission on one condition. "I grant you leave for a certain period of time, but the love I have for you will certainly turn to hate should you remain beyond this timeÃ¢ÂÂ¦ 'My lady, this period would be too long. If I were a dove, I would fly to your side whenever I wished'" (Troyes 42-43). Ywain is very gracious for Laudine's understanding, and promises to return when asked. Ywain's bold commitment to courtly love represents a servant's to a queen. Love should be difficult to obtain, and this will prove his faithfulness to her.
As time went on Ywain traveled throughout the land competing and succeeded in all his endeavors; except one. He had broken his promise to return to Laudine in the given time. It is not that Ywain knowing was gone too long, he simply lost track of time. Ywain is ashamed of himself, and knows he torn her heart into pieces. The pain of his broken heart is so intense that it drives him to insanity. "Then there burst out a storm in his mid so severe that he went mad. He clawed and tore at himself and fled across plains and fields and left his people bewildered" (Troyes 47-48). The love he has for Laudine affects his body deep inside. This feeling sickens Ywain, which drives him to act like a wild beast. His love for Laudine is so great that it physically controls his body to display such grief and dismay.
It is not the love Laudine has for Ywain that controls him; rather it is the love Ywain has for her. If Laudine had no love for Ywain, he still would act in the way he did. Cretien objectifies Courtly Love as a force which is more powerful than blow from any lance or sword. A wound from a broken heart is the only wound that will not heal over time, but instead grows to find more ways to injure the knight.
Works CitedTroyes. Ywain The Knight of The Lion. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. 1977