Courtly Love Essay

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Courtly Love

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” (Miriam-Webster 253). This quote has been used for centuries as both persuasion in favor of loving and also as comfort in times of heartbreak and loss. However, is this statement completely true, or does it offer false hope to anguishing lovers? In fact, are the rules and costs of loving and being loved so great that in fact it is actually better to never have loved at all? When pondering these questions, one must first consider the rules of loving and being loved to determine the physical, emotional, and psychological costs they entail. In order to do so, one could use Andreas Capellanus’ The Art of Courtly Love as a guideline for the rules of love.
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Initially, the theme of courtly love surfaces in Undset’s story in the life of Lavrans Bjorgulfson. Lavrans, who belongs to highly regarded linage in Norway known as the sons of Lagmand, is the father of the story’s main character Kristin. Early on in his life “Lavrans was married at a young age; he was only twenty-eight...but after his marriage he lived quietly on his own estate...rather moody and melancholy and did not thrive among the people in the south” (Undset 3). In regards to this situation, Capellanus’ sixth rule of courtly love states, “Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity” (Capellanus #6). After marrying his wife at an age considered young during his time, Lavrans is not mature enough respect his wife’s desire to settle in her native land and except the lifestyle he leads there. It is not until years later that Lavrans gains the maturity necessary to do so and is able to truly love his wife without holding any resentment towards her. As the story progresses, Lavrans’ wife Ragnfrid’s attraction to her husband is explained, “he was known as a strong and courageous man, but a peaceful soul, honest and calm, humble in conduct but courtly in bearing” (Undset 4). Rule eighteen of The Art of Courtly Love says, “Good character
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