The story of Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, is the tragic story of two starcrossed lovers who cannot ever be together because of their loyalty to those they work for.  It talks about the beginning of their love and how they were as one, feeling pain when the other felt pain and joy when the other felt joy.  It also discussed how they tried to suppress and ignore their love to prevent it from becoming more painful.  However, despite efforts to keep themselves apart from one another they were both eventually forced to admit their love and accept their situation, and they began to enjoy spending time with one another, and all they really needed was the one they cared about.  “Their company of two was so ample a crowd for this pair that good King Arthur never held a feast in any of his palaces that gave keener pleasure or delight”  (pg. 304).

However, despite their requited love they realize that they can never be together and so they resign to accepting one another’s company as being enough to get them by.  They spend days walking together in the woods just listening to one another talk and listening to the beauteous sounds of nature.  Although their love could never become anything more than their requited affection, and they could never truly be together, their love would never end and they would always continue to be one, undividable, Tristan and Isolde.


To His Coy Mistress

This is a poem about what it means to really love someone.  It begins by talking about how there never seems to be enough time to spend with the one you love when you’re in love.  It talks about how love should be a slow process that allows each person involved in the relationship to get their bearings, and settle into their new feelings.  However, near the end of the poem it mentions how when those in love are together time seems to fly by, and once again there never seems to be enough of it.  Marvell writes, “though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run” (pg. 310), showing how time seems to fly by, and even though we can’t stop it we will not give up on enjoying the time we have.  This is an excellent representation of that desire that lovers have to be in constant company with one another, and the constant struggle against time to find the time to be together.

Reflection Week 14

In The Symposium, Socrates represents the idealized version of love that many of the hopeless romantics in the world hold to be the truth.  However, Diotima is a representation of what love really is for her, as she sees it in the world around her.  To Socrates love seems to be perfect, beautiful, good and wonderful, while to Diotima it is none of these things but also is not their opposite but is in a mean between the two opposites.  She sees love as neither good nor bad, but having both qualities of goodness and qualities of badness.

Many of the rules of love were set down in the Middle Ages.  Although the rules were strict they at least had rules about how both parties are to treat one another.  Nowadays we often do not really know what the rules are, but rather we just try and make them up as we go.  There is no real set of things that you should or should not do, whereas in the middle ages each person knew exactly what they could and could not do, and people rarely strayed from those guidelines.

The Art of Courtly Love, Symptoms of Love, and Sonnet XI

The Art of Courtly Love

According to the work The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, the word love is derived from the word “amar”, meaning hook, which signifies to be captured.  Therefore, when one is in love they are “caught in the chains of desire” (pg. 299), and desire that they might hook someone else to hold their two hearts together.  I think that this is an interesting perception that love is the capture of one in the desire of love, I have often felt that this is what love is, the battle to capture the heart of the one who has captured our heart.  I also found it interesting that Capellanus feels that physical impediments such as blindness and age cause an inability to love.  I feel that this is absolutely unfounded because I see older couples together all the time, and you can never seem to find two people more in love than a pair of old people who have spent their entire lives together and plan to spend the rest of their lives with that same person.

I also found it interesting that love was not based exclusively on class, but on the merits and good deeds that a person has completed in their life, that make them worthy of love.  I really enjoyed this part because this is exactly how I feel, that love should not be based on status and money but should be based upon the personality of the person we are considering for our love.  I think that although this is not the opinion of many Americans nowadays, that if we all thought about the ones we loved in this manner and loved them for these reasons we would have more successful marriages more often than we currently do.

I also found several of the rules laid out for love to be very interesting.  An example is that “love is always growing or diminishing” this is an excellent description of love, it is not constant but must be constantly worked at so that rather than diminishing love can grow.  Also, “he who is vexed by the thoughts of love eats little and seldom sleeps”, meaning that when someone is in love they cannot stop thinking about the person they love and therefore have a lack of eating and a lack of sleep.  And finally, “be obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love”, this means that the wants of a woman should always be taken into account, and a man should be willing to do anything that a lady wishes of them.

Symptoms of Love

This was an interesting list of symptoms that one in love exhibits.  In fact, love is described as “a bright stain on the vision blotting out reason” (pg. 318), going back to the old saying that love is blind.  I think that it is very true that often love blinds a person from the reality of things around them, in fact, often people in love cannot seem to point out any faults in the other person, despite the fact that everyone has flaws.  However, despite the idea that there are symptoms that come along with love there is hope, saying “could you endure such grief at any hand but hers?” (pg. 318).  This means, as is extremely true, that when someone is in love despite the pain and the suffering that comes along with love, those in love never seem to notice it because the good things outweigh the bad.

Sonnet XI

This sonnet was an excellent example of what it means to be truly in love, the constant yearning to be with the person that you care about, not being able to think about anything except that person.  I know that love can blind a person to any other natural desires and turn their mind and heart completely toward the thoughts and emotions of the person they are in love with.  Pablo Neruda, the author, states, “I hunger for your sleek laugh, your hands the color of a savage harvest, hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails” (pg. 320).  This is an excellent written representation of the desire one has for the one that they love.

The Symposium

The general argument made by Plato in his work The Symposium is that love is the mean between many different states of mind and life, and that love is the love of the possession of the good.  More specifically, Plato suggests that love is the seeking after of a type of immortality as all men seek to be immortal.  He writes, “they are those who are in a mean between the two;  Love is one of them…love is a philosopher or lover of wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom in in a mean between the wise and the ignorant”  (page 284).  In this passage, Plato is suggesting that love is not right or wrong or good or evil, but that it is a mean, in between two states of mind.  In conclusion, it is Plato’s belief that love is a balance in all things, between the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly, the wise and the ignorant.

In my view, Plato is right because love is definitely a balance between all things.  For example, parents have to be able to find a balance between the love of their children, their careers, and time with one another, there is also a need to find a balance between two people who are in love.  Although Plato might object that love cannot be defined in such worldly terms, I maintain that either way you look at his theory love is a balance that must be found in order for it to be successful.  Therefore, I conclude that we all look for that balance when we find love in order to make things work out to the best that they can be.


Another argument made by Plato is that love is merely a love of immortality and a love of the possession of good forever.  More specifically, Plato suggests that the reason we have children is so that we can become closer to a state of immortality, by passing our genes on from one generation to another.  He writes, “Marvel not then at the love which all men have of their offspring;  for that universal love and interest is for the sake of immortality”  (page 287).  In this passage, Plato is suggesting that the reason that we take such care of our children is because in a sense when we protect them we are protecting our immortality.  In conclusion, it is Plato’s belief that men are constantly trying to find ways to make themselves immortal even in the smallest degree and offspring are one of the best ways to do so.

In my view, Plato is right because men do want to live forever, and therefore in a sense the love of children is definitely a representation of the human love for immortality.  For example, parents are willing to die to protect their children, now this may be for the reason of preserving their own effect on the future, however, I also believe that it is out of the pure love of the person’s children that is not merely a desire to pass along their DNA to the future.  Although Plato might object that the desire to preserve ourselves to some degree in future generations is the only reason for this love of our offspring, I maintain that there is more to the love that we have for our children.  Therefore, I conclude that the love we have of our offspring is both the love of immortality and the desire to pass our genes on to other generations, but also just pure spiritual love of the wonderful people that have been brought into the world and left to our protection.

Reflection Week 13

To some love is nothing more than a chemical reaction within the brain that causes the release of endorphins to allow for a feeling of peace and happiness.  However, to me, love is so much more than that.  For me, love is the ability of two people to understand one another, to accept each person for who they are, the good and the bad that they have, without attempting to change that person.  It is the most wonderful of experiences that a person can have and should be treated as a sacred treasure, there should not be a simple scientific explanation for why a person loves.

Love can not be explained away, this is why we often see two completely different individuals fall in love.  It is not a chemical reaction it is something bigger something inside a person that lets them know that they belong with that person, and that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks but that is how it’s going to be.

The Art of Love

The Art of Love by Ovid, is a compilation of poems that the poet wrote to describe love in his own words.  Ovid compares love to being on active service in the military.  He successfully gives you the sense of what he feels love is through a very relatable image, especially to those of his own time.  “Every lover’s on active service, my friend, active service, believe me.  And Cupid has his headquarters in the field.  Fighting and love-making belong to the same age-group.  In bed as in war, old men are out of place.  A commander looks to his troops for gallant conduct.  A mistress expects no less.  Soldier and lover both keep night-long vigil, lying rough outside their captain’s (or lady’s) door.” (pg. 294)  This is just one example of how Ovid is able to relate love to war, it is a battle between ourselves and the one we love, a battle to win them over.  I think that this is an excellent representation of what love is, the battle to win the heart of the one that we love and as they say “all’s fair in love and war”.

Ovid continues on to describe love as being unstoppable, saying that doors  cannot hold it back and that no matter what happens love will find a way.  Ovid clearly feels that love is not something to be looked lightly upon but something that should be taken seriously as it is a serious matter.  He also feels that love is one of the things in the world that is really worth fighting for.  I think that this is an excellent representation of the feelings of the majority of hopeless romantics out there in the world, and I’m one of them.  I personally choose to agree with Ovid that love will find a way to make it through any trials, that is the magic of true love, it can endure anything.

Song of Songs

Songs of songs is a beautiful example of what many people feel it means to love.  It is found in the Hebrew Bible and it discusses the different aspects of love, from simple attraction all the way down to endearment.  It mentions how the couple should praise love above wine, showing that it should be valued above any other worldly pleasure.  It describes love as the turning away from all other avenues of love and turning to one person.  “I held him fast, nor would I let him go till I had brought him into my mother’s house” (pg. 282).  This quote is an example of the wonderful examples of love given in this work.  In the quote the woman has just found the man that she loves after realizing what should would be missing without him, and she is no longer willing to part with him unless she is sure that they will meet again.  This is what I feel love should be, the unconditional acceptance of another person, and the desire to spend every minute of every day with that person and feeling pain and suffering from separation from that person.

What is Love?

The general argument made by Helen Fisher in her work What is Love? is that love is a chemical reaction that can be broken down into three different types of love.  More specifically, Fisher argues that the different types of love include lust, which is associated with testosterone in humans, romantic attraction, associated with elevated levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, and attachment, associated with oxytocin and vasopressin.  She writes, “When nature makes a good design, she uses it over and over.  And it is possible that almost all types of human love—from love of God to maternal love to brotherly love to all of the other subtle varieties of human love—are variations of these three basic brains systems, mixing in myriad ways with one another and with other brain networks.”  (page 334).  In this passage, Fisher is suggesting that all variations of love are merely different combinations of those three different types of human loves.  In conclusion, it is Fisher’s belief that love is a chemical reaction caused by the human desire, which has developed over time, to find a special mating partner.

In my view, Fisher is right because love is most definitely the human desire to find a special mating partner, one that most people hope they will spend the rest of their lives with.  For example, even eagles mate for life, this is an example of a very primal desire to find a preferred mating partner, which is evidence that this desire has probably just evolved over time into the concept that we call love.  Although Fisher might object that love is no more than a chemical reaction to this desire we have to find a mating partner to share our lives with, I maintain that love is so much more than that.  In my opinion, love is the ability of two people to truly connect with each other, not just through chemical reactions that tell them they are suitable for one another, but through the sharing of ideas and the willingness to accept each person for who they are and be willing to accept their ideas even when they may not be your own.  Therefore, I conclude that love is more than just a chemical reaction, but is an evolution of the human desire to find a special mating partner.

Reflection Week 12

I think it is amazing how many diverse religions there are throughout the world.  They each have their own distinct ideals and morals, and they all believe in many different things.  However, despite the many differences that all of these religions have they have so much in common.  They often time overlap on certain issues such as premarital sex and beliefs in God.  Islam and the Christians have many similarities in their beliefs in God and his creation for all, however, they differ in their views of Christ as the Son of God or merely one of God’s prophets.  I was really impressed by how much I learned about the beliefs the world holds from these sacred texts.