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Heloise and abelard letters

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The letters exchanged between Abelard and Heloise date back over 900 years, but they are still very significant in the field of literary criticism today. The letters discuss some intricate topics in the two's lives after they met. While Abelard and Heloise seem to have had different perspectives on life and therefore different fates prior to the meeting, their destiny is sealed by the love they each claim to have for each other. When the two meet, Abelard is already a well-known scholar, teacher, and God-fearing man whose fame has spread across the world. From a philosophical point of view, it is certain that if Abelard and Heloise did not meet their entire lives, their destinies and life conditions would have taken a significantly different course compared to the one narrated.
Consequently, the stories which unfold in the lives of Abelard and Heloise, soon after their encounter is an area which has evoked mixed reactions from different scholars. Still, the birth of Astrolabe changed the destinies of the two and their perceptions about life throughout their entire lives. In this paper, a closer analysis of the letters of Abelard and Heloise is presented. This study identifies Abelard's love for Heloise as the most important event in his life afterward and consequently, a game changer in their future lives. Although they both have different opinions about this remarkable event, it plays a critical role in defining their future destinies and how each of them spent the rest of their lives after that.
From the beginning, it is apparently clear that Heloise' intentions concerning their affair wasn't to engage in sexual intercourse. Such practices as Mew highlights were strictly outlawed and considered shameful acts. Sexual respect was closely monitored although romance existed between people of different sexes. Despite this knowledge, their lust and desires of the body overpower their conscience, intelligence and learning forcing them to have an early affair. As a consequence of the 'illicit act' life doesn't turn out to be smooth for the two. This romantic affair between Abelard and Heloise is considered in this essay as the most important one in the lives of the two due to the role it plays in their lives after that. As commonly argued, the outcome of any love affair is the conception of a child and so is the case in the affair between Abelard and Heloise.
At the time when Astrolabe was born, Abelard and Heloise had not married officially. This meant that Astrolabe was an illegitimate child at his birth. That the birth of Astrolabe changed the destinies of the two is a matter that has received tremendous and varied reactions from scholarly analyses. In fact, having left their child at Brittany, Abelard and Heloise rarely wrote about him or referred to him in their letters. Many have argued that Abelard was an irresponsible father to Astrolabe, and so does Heloise. Perhaps this was because of their new specialties (as a nun and a monk) which restricted both from having a child leave alone the knowledge of them having been in a marriage before.
Right from the beginning, Heloise opposed the affair between her and Abelard, although she knew that she was equally in love with him. Consequently, she tells him off unwillingly and when he insists on not taking no as an option, she gives in, and they engage in premarital sex. Abelard does not realize at the beginning that his move to love Heloise were guided by a selfish motive. Until later, after the birth of Astrolabe, Abelard confesses having been led by selfishness other than reason; to quench his sexual desires for Heloise. It is unusual that a man of great learning and a renowned philosopher such as Abelard would be misguided by his conscience. His later move to abandon the child was a clear manifestation of his earlier dismayed reasoning. These facts are reflected in Abelard's total neglect of Heloise and Astrolabe soon after he is castrated and did not possess any sexual capability. Contrary to Abelard's later change of opinion, Heloise' opinion concerning the affair seems to have been informed fully by thought and knowledge. Comparing the later lives of the two, their motives and the haunting revelations of their past lives shows their opinions afterward. While Abelard's later life continuous to be crowned in miseries and rampant mistakes, Heloise' is straight and well-focused as a nun.
Heloise pointed out to Abelard that marrying her would cut short his future dreams in education and a philosopher. According to Heloise, a married Abelard would be able to achieve little compared to an unmarried Abelard. This is, however, different from Abelard's thinking about the matter until Heloise conceives Astrolabe. The name Astrolabe is Latin translated into English as 'shadow on the' sun. According to the norms of Abelard's society at the time when Astrolabe was born, a child born out of wedlock wasn't supposed to be given a name by the father. Instead, the mother provided the name to them. It is, therefore, inconsequential that Heloise sorts the name Astrolabe for her son. The significance of the name is a clear evidence of her perception about the whole events which culminated from their love.
It was unusual for the 12th century Christian Europe for a man to make such choices as Abelard did. Moreover, at the time when he had an affair with Heloise, Abelard was not an ordinary youth. He was well advanced in age (34 years to be exact) compared to Heloise who was only nineteen at the time. According to the popular belief, Abelard was reasonably mature at this time than Heloise. He was capable of making rational decisions to save his reputation, and that of Heloise and her family but fails to do so. Besides, Abelard was already a man of reasonable stature in the philosophical society. He had developed a reputation for himself and a path to future success. Despite these, he fails to acknowledge the circumstances and instead, fell to his lust and human desires. Following these revelations, we develop an argument in support of the rationality in the sound consent of Heloise and downplays Abelard's choice to love her as falsified and driven entirely by selfishness. His main aim is to satisfy his sexual urge and when the urge is taken away, he has nothing to do with Heloise or their child.
On most occasions, Heloise has repeatedly reaffirmed her position towards their affair maintaining that what matters is the inner emotions and feelings that they had for one another. She is not as sorry as Abelard appears to be later in his life. These reaffirmations are a remarkable reassurance to Heloise' positivity in her decision to love Abelard. Consequently, Abelard's regrets are an indication of her sorry state resulting from his misinformed decision to engage in the affair. Clearly, from the letters exchanged between the two, it is evident the path that their later lives took following the romantic affair. Abelard lives in fear that the revelation of his past affair with Heloise and the truth about his child, Astrolabe, would hinder his progress, respect and social standing as a monk. Surely, these circumstances did influence his reputation delaying his anointing as a monk when he is accused of immorality before a tribunal.
The letters of Abelard and Heloise are some of the most remarkable works of the ancient English society which have elicited mixed criticisms from various analysts. The letters illustrate occasional exchanges between the two love birds narrating their circumstances and the situations they are subjected to in their subsequent lives. Emerging as the most remarkable event in the life of Abelard is his affair with Heloise, a scenario which changes his life significantly after that. Although Abelard remains sorry, ashamed and apologetic of his past, Heloise is positive concerning the affair and the entire events which culminated after that.

McLeod, Glenda. "'Wholly guilty, wholly innocent': Self-Definition in Heloise's Letters to Abelard." Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre (1993): 64-86.
Mew, Constant. The lost love letters of Heloise and Abelard: perceptions of dialogue in twelfth-century France. Springer, 2008.
Nye, Andrea. "A Woman's Thought or a Man's Discipline? The Letters of Abelard and Heloise." Hypatia 7, no. 3 (1992): 1-22.

September 11, 2021
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