Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)


Tristan (TREES-tahn), the courtly son of Rivalin and Blanchefleur. Orphaned at birth, he is reared by Rual the Faithful until he joins King Mark’s court after his escape from Norwegian kidnappers. He serves his lord well by killing Duke Morolt and winning the hand of Isolde the Fair for Mark. Tristan and Isolde drink a love potion by accident and fall helplessly in love. The two lovers deceive Mark until Tristan is forced to flee. Later, he marries Isolde of the White Hands, but it is a marriage in name only.

Isolde the Fair

Isolde the Fair (ee-ZOHL-deh), the wife of King Mark and lover of Tristan.


Mark, the vacillating king of Cornwall, uncle of Tristan, and cuckolded husband of Isolde the Fair.


Rivalin (ree-VAH-lihn), a lord of Parmenie. On his travels, he marries Blanchefleur and fathers Tristan before his death in battle against Duke Morgan.


Blanchefleur (blahnsh-FLOOR), the sister of King Mark and wife of Rivalin. Shortly after learning of Rivalin’s death, she dies giving birth to Tristan.


Brangene (BRAHN-gay-neh), the companion of Isolde and her substitute in Mark’s wedding bed.

Rual the Faithful

Rual the Faithful (rew-AHL), the foster father of Tristan.

Duke Morolt

Duke Morolt (moh-ROHLT), the brother of Queen Isolde. He is killed by Tristan when he demands tribute from Cornwall for Ireland.

Duke Morgan

Duke Morgan, the enemy of Rivalin, later killed by Tristan.

Isolde of the White Hands

Isolde of the White Hands, the wife of Tristan in name only.

Queen Isolde of Ireland

Queen Isolde of Ireland, the mother of Isolde the Fair.