The Power of Destiny - Literature Review Example

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Harvey Mudd College
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Literature review
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In life, no individual seems to have the power to control their destiny. In some cases, one tries to run away from this aspect called destiny, but it soon catches up with them, no matter where or how far they go (Duggan). Love, which is as old as the human race, is one of the aspects that seems to dictate the behavior of human beings. It is one of the shapers of human destiny. While the idea of love is obscure in some cases, it is so clear in others that one will do anything to defend it. Coincidentally, some people are in love by magic spells. They have no power to go against the spell. Literary pieces have often been scripted on the annals of love, with legends such as Shakespeare authoring landmark literary texts such as Romeo and Juliet. Some characters will even go against the will of their colleagues, bosses, and lords in the name of love. This happens to Tristan in The Romance of Tristan, Naoise in Deirdre of the Sorrows, and Diarmuid in The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne. The three characters go through mysterious love and life situations and, at times, are forced by circumstances to behave the way they do. Although they have strengths and weaknesses, the three men take many risks at various points in their lives for the sake of love; thus, can be regarded as heroes.

The early lives of Tristan, Naoise, and Diarmuid bear some similarities. Extraordinary features characterize the early lives of the three charactersfeatures. When Tristan is born, a misfortune strikes. His mother, Blanchefleur, dies while giving birth to him (Bedier & Edward). He, therefore, becomes an orphan at infancy. As a young man, Tristan travels to his uncle's court. His uncles name is Mark. It is during his stay at Uncle Marks that Tristans knightly skills become so elaborate that Uncle Mark, a king, becomes very impressed with him. Similarly, exceptional features shroud the early days of Naoise. As a young man, Naoise is said to be extraordinarily handsome, with white skin, red cheeks and beautiful black hair (Heaney). He is so handsome that Deirdre, the kings betrothed, has to plead with her nanny, Leabharcham, to arrange for her to see him. Diarmuid is no different. When Diarmuid is young, his father squeezes his half-brother (the son of Roc) to death. Roc becomes so angry that after restoring his son to life, through a magical ceremony, in the form of a wild boar, he puts a geasa on it to kill Diarmuid (Heaney). Unfortunately, Diarmuid also has a geasa never to stab a pig and Roc takes advantage of this situation since he knows about it. Evidently, the circumstances surrounding the early lives of the three characters have an impact on their later lives.

As they grow up and fall in love, the three characters exhibit another similarity. Magic spells drive their love lives. The spells are so strong for them that they are unable to liberate themselves from the demands of their lovers. They go through a lot of troubles, for the love of their partners. Interestingly, all of them are involved in love triangles after they take the women that are supposed to be their bosses wives thus making the plot structures of their stories almost similar. Tristans love, for instance, is a result of a magic potion that he and Yseut drink by mistake (Bedier & Edward). The love potion was meant for Uncle Mark and Yseut on their wedding night. However, Brangain, Yseuts maid, gives it to Tristan and Yseut, by mistake, and this makes the two fall into an unequivocal love. Even when she gets married to King Mark, Yseut still has escapades with Tristan. King Mark even lays traps for them but never proves that they have an affair. Tristan, on his part, goes through a lot of challenges such as escaping as he is being escorted to the pyre, living with Yseut in the forest under challenging circumstances, pretending to be a leper and madman, among other sacrifices. Similarly, Naoise is in love with Deirdre, the betrothed of his master, as a result of powers beyond his control. When Deirdre sets her eyes on Naoise, she immediately falls in love with him and asks him to run away with her, a proposal that Naoise rejects at first since he knows who Deirdre is to his master, Conchubar (Heaney). However, Deirdre puts a geasa on him, and he no longer has control over his actions. He runs away with her despite being aware that she belongs to his master. Together with his brothers, Ardan and Ainnle, they take Deirdre as far from Emain Macha as possible. He has to endure living in the wild and escape narrowly from death when the king of Scotland puts him in the frontline so that he can be killed for him to take Deirdre. The geasa however, is so powerful that he has to stick to Deirdre despite the numerous challenges. Such a situation is similar to what Diarmuid goes through in his love life. Diarmuid, a warrior in Finn Macs kingdom, is born with a magic spot on his forehead that makes every woman who sees it fall into an irrevocable love with him (Heaney). Coincidentally, Grainne, whom the king wants to marry, saw Diarmuids magic spot when she was only twelve and spends the rest of her life looking for this boy. However, she gives up with time and decides to marry the Great Finn Mac when he asks for her hand. It is during the feast to celebrate her betrothal that she spots Diarmuid and resolves not to marry Finn but pursue Diarmuid. She then puts him under a geasa and he, for the first time, betrays his master, Finn, by running away with her. They meet with the god of love who advises them that they have to always be on the move to avoid being caught up with by Finn. And thus becomes their life, always moving. Unfortunately, Diarmuid has no choice. It is clear, thus, that the three character experience similar love lives. They have no control over the things they do for love.

Similar to Tristans death, the deaths of Naoise and Diarmuid are premature and unexpected. They all die as a result of negligence. Following the return of Yseut to King Mark, Tristan marries the king of Britannys daughter since he believes he will never set eyes on Yseut. Unfortunately, one day, Tristan is severely wounded while trying to help the king's son have an affair with another knight's wife. He knows too well that only Yseut can heal him; thus sends for her. However, due to misinformation from his jealous wife, who lies to him that Yseut has refused to come, gets so shocked at Yseuts betrayal that he dies by the time she gets to his bedside. Almost a similar fate befalls Naoise, only that he dies by the sword. Upon capture by Conchubars men, his head, and those of his brothers are chopped off by Maigne Rough Hand, who does it on behalf of Conchubar. Conchubar orders Naoises killing for betrayal. The death of Deirmuid in the hands of his former boss is also unexpected. The son of Roc, who had been restored to life, but in the form of a boar at the beginning of the story, catches up with him. When it charges at him, he becomes helpless since he has a geasa on him never to pierce the skin of a pig. When it attacks him, he pleads with his boss Finn, who has a magic thumb to give him some water in his hand to restore him (Heaney). However, when Finn remembers how Deirmuid betrayed him by disappearing with Grainne, he lets the water trickle through his fingers until it becomes too late to rescue Deirmuid. He passes on.

One of the strengths of these men is their love for and loyalty to their masters. As knights and warriors in the various kingdoms, the three men portray their knightly skills and bravery. Tristan, for instance, not only kills the arrogant Morholt but is also willing to give King Mark Yseut for marriage although he is the one who had been gifted with her until they drink the love potion. Naoise, is, also, not only a brave knight in Conchubars kingdom but is so loyal to him that he is not willing to run away with Deidre until she puts him on a geasa so that he is no longer in control of his actions. Additionally, Deirmuid is such a brave warrior that his colleagues are wowed by his bravery. When Grainne requests him to run away with her, he is not willing to betray his boss, Finn, until Grainne puts him on a geasa (Heaney). He then behaves under the spell of the geasa thus cannot control his actions. Interestingly, the three men go through a lot but do not denounce their masters. In fact, a character like Deirmuid even goes hunting with Finn when he meets his unfortunate death. This is an example of the strength of these characters that cannot go unnoticed. Although their weaknesses are in the spells they are under, these characters can be deemed as strong men. Therefore, they can undoubtedly be regarded as heroes in their right.

In conclusion, it is evident that the force of destiny is so strong that defying it is a tall order. It becomes even more complicated when the character is put under a magic spell. The three characters, Tristan, Naoise, and Deirmuid, may have had different lives and behaved differently were it not for the spells they are under and the force of their destiny. In fact, their strengths would overshadow their weaknesses under normal circumstances. They unwillingly and unwittingly betray their bosses to whom they have been unequivocally loyal. Therefore, despite the force of destiny making them behave the way they do, they largely come out as heroes.


Works Cited

Bedier, Joseph, and Edward J. Gallagher. The Romance of Tristan and Iseut. Hackett Publishing, 2013.

Duggan, Christopher. The force of destiny: A history of Italy since 1796. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008.

Heaney, Marie. Deirdre of the sorrows in Over nine waves: a book of Irish legends. Macmillan, 1995.

Heaney, Marie. The pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne in Over nine waves: a book of Irish legends. Macmillan, 1995.


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