Analysing Peter Abelard’s Heloise and Letter of Abelard
The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
In The Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Peter Abelard, Heloise joins the convent and many years after their love affair decides to contact Abelard again. Although Abelard hadn’t completely forgotten about Heloise and their relationship, he didn’t even attempt to contact her in that long period of time and it was Heloise that had to contact him first, which shows that perhaps Abelard would have never tried to contact her again. Even after Abelard writes back to Heloise, he makes it clear that he is shameful for a lot of what happened and doesn’t want to talk about their relationship. Unlike Abelard whose love may have actually been lust like he claims in his letters, Heloise claims that her love for him was so strong that she even adored him. It’s possible however, that Heloise may not have actually been in love with Abelard but just admired him given that he was a well-known philosopher who came from nobility, which in turn may have influenced her feelings for him and made it harder to forget about him. Furthermore, after she went into the convent, she no longer had a chance to meet someone else and her memories with Abelard were all she had left, making her unable to forget about Abelard, whether she wanted to or not.
Even if it wasn’t true love it is still evident in Heloise’s letters that she looked up to Abelard as a superior and in a sense was obsessed with him. In addition, since Abelard was a well-known philosopher and scholar who other women also admired and envied Heloise for having a relationship with “And as most of these songs told of our love, they soon made me widely known and roused the envy of many women against me”, she may have liked him even more for that. Abelard also came from nobility whereas Heloise was from a lower class, these factors could have contributed to her initial feelings of love and adoration for him. She developed an obsession with Abelard and everything about him which in turn ultimately made it harder to forget about him. This obsession she developed could have blinded her rationality, not letting her see that she actually wasn’t in love with him and neither was he with her. Further evidence that she may have not actually been in love with Abelard was shown when she didn’t want to marry him and states “And if the name of wife appears more sacred and more valid, sweeter to me is ever the word friend, or, if thou be not ashamed, concubine or whore”, which shows that she may have just lusted over him as did he and only believed she was actually in love with him.
If Heloise wasn’t actually in love with Abelard however, then one would assume Heloise would easily have moved on, but I believe that whether or not Heloise was actually in love with Abelard, she didn’t forget about him because she couldn’t. Being in a convent, Abelard and her memories of Abelard were the only representation of love she had left, so in a sense the moment she accepted going to the convent she gave up the opportunity to meet someone else, which in her mind solidified Abelard as her only ‘true love’. Heloise also states in her letters that her life is miserable without Abelard: “Of all wretched women I am the most wretched, and amongst the unhappy I am the unhappiest”. So in a sense Abelard saved her from this and gave her something pleasurable to live for, which was taken away when they had to stop seeing each other and she joined the convent: “The higher I was exalted when you preferred me to all other women, the greater my suffering over my own and yours, when equally I was flung down…”, which shows that Heloise could just be longing for this happiness and excitement that he initially gave her and that she no longer has in the convent.
In conclusion, one can say that Heloise never forgot about Abelard because she was still in love with him and that’s the reason she wrote to him after so many years. While only Heloise and Abelard themselves could say if they were actually in love with each other to begin with, it could be said that the reason Heloise never forgot about Abelard was because of all the favorable assets that he possessed (being renowned and coming from nobility) and her obsession with him and his status. Heloise also went into a convent where she was not allowed to see anyone, and since she was left with just memories of him, it impeded her from moving on and forgetting about Abelard.
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The Letters of Abelard and Heloise In The Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Peter Abelard, Heloise joins the convent and many years after their love affair decides to contact […]