Physical tragedy turns to sp
Abelard and Heloise - Essay on any aspect of Abelard and Heloise, by Chaucer - Abelard Heloise Chaucer Literature English Canterburry Tales Anthology Letters Lover
Physical tragedy turns to spiritual triumph in the relationship of Abelard and Heloise, recorded in their personal correspondence and Abelard s Historia Calamitatum. Prompted by the sufferings of circumstance, Abelard and Heloise move from a physical relationship to a chaste, "pure" love, as they withdraw into the monastic life and become "brother and sister in Christ." Their letters evince an intimacy which testifies to their former lives as lovers, and their former relationship as tutor and pupil. Through the Historia Calamitatum and the latter letters of Abelard and Heloise, one may see how the ill-fated pair manages to deal with the sufferings life has given them, put such suffering in a Christian context, and remain a couple in matters intellectual and spiritual.In the theology of Christianity, suffering plays a primary role, as it is the agent by which man reaches an understanding of the miserable and temporal nature of this world, the realm of the flesh, and as a result, turns his mind to the realm of the spirit. Thus, it is appropriate that Abelard would name his story Historia Calamitatum, or Story of His Misfortunes, for his misfortunes are what drove him to his eventual life as an abbot. Specifically, the suffering that sprung from his romantic affair with Heloise is what would turn him to the spiritual life.
After Abelard became tutor to Heloise, he soon entered into a passionate affair with her. "We were united, first under one roof, then in heart; and so with our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love." (Abelard, 67) Although Abelard will later reproach this experience as purely physical and depraved, it is obvious, by Abelard s own writing, that a true romantic love existed, for "when inspiration did come to me, it was for writing love-songs, not the secrets of philosophy." (Abelard, 68) When Heloise would be impregnated by Abelard, and he wished to marry her to save her and guardian, her uncle Flubert, from shame, she resisted. Heloise must have been enamored of Abelard s genius in the study of dialectic and theology, and if he were to marry her, he would lose the solitary life that a philosopher required. Calling forth examples from classical philosophers and the Bible, she claims "he could not devote his attention to a wife and philosophy alike." (Abel!ard, 71) Citing Paul