There are a lot of ways how to win a person and create alliances. Relationships can be developed in just a matter of days, months, years, or in just a matter of moments, depending on the circumstances and other factors. Some of the most important question that this paper aims to answer are: how exactly relationship structures work and develop. In this paper, the authors draw upon evidences from three literary works namely Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, Grass for his Pillow by Lian Hearn, and the Knight of the Lion by Chretien de Troyes. The paper will focus on the type of relationship structure formed by comitatus, focusing on the three major characters Yvain, Kaede, and Takeo and the type of relationship that they were able to build with other major characters in their respective stories.
Across the Nightingale Floor was the first installation of Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori trilogy of books. This work was published in 2002. The protagonist in Across the Nightingale Floor was Takeo. Now it is important to note that the main character in the story had two names, an original and a replaced version. Tomasu was the main character’s original name. He was a member of a group called The Hidden by birth. Members of that group were eventually wiped out as a result of persecution. Tomasu was one of the fortunate members of that group who were able to survive the persecution headed by Iida and his other clan members. The only reason why Tomasu survived was because he was helped by a powerful lord of another Japanese tribe named Shigeru .
He was later on adopted as an official member of lord Shigeru’s family. For his protection, Shigeru ordered that Tomasu change his name to Takeo. Surely, without lord Shigeru’s protection, it would have been impossible for Takeo to survive the wrath of Iida and his men. It would have also been easy for the other members of the clan who wanted to see him dead to locate and execute him without the further protection offered to him by lord Shigeru. This was essentially how Takeo managed to develop the kind of relationship that he had with lord Shigeru. Although the story was set up in a fictional feudal Japan, Takeo in this case was the warrior or knight while Shigeru was the lord or the master, when viewed using the context of comitatus.
This type of relationship structure often requires an obstacle, a common one, in order to get developed. In this case, it was Takeo’s personal problems that helped them have a unique warband type of bond (as in the case of a typical comitatus). Shigeru was there to help Takeo when he really needed it and as a result, Takeo became personally indebted to Shigeru because of what he had done to help him.
Grass for His Pillow was another work authored by Lian Hearn. It was the second installment to his Tales of the Otori Trilogy published in 2003. The main character in the story was Kaede. It is important to note that the story line of Grass for his Pillow was directly connected with that of Across the Nightingale Floor. Takeo was still a part of the major characters list, although the focus of the literary spotlight in the second installment of the trilogy was Kaede. Kaede was Takeo’s life partner and in the second installment, she was set to give birth to her and Takeo’s offspring. She was heir to the Maruyama. Another important character to character relationship to take note of in this case would be the one that got formed between lord Fujiwara and Kaede.
One of the important points to remember about this clan is that it was facing an internal problem and that the only way for that internal problem to be solved was to unify the smaller groups within the domain that Kaede would later on inherit and have control over. What enabled Kaede and Takeo to develop the kind of relationship that they have in the story (which was rather a complicated relationship) was the difference in their goals and intentions. Kaede was a person who was longing for a home and family because of her sad past.
On the other hand, despite the fact that Takeo was also a person who had a sad (plus a violently dark) past, his intentions were somewhat more inclined towards taking revenge and solving his own problems . Despite the conflict in their goals and intentions, the type of relationship that they portrayed in Grass for his Pillow was formed. This was also the obstacle that enabled the type of bond that existed between them to form. For comparison purposes, the type of obstacle that enabled the type of relationship between Kaede and Takeo to form was more complex compared to the obstacle that enabled the type of relationship between Shigeru and Takeo (from the first installment) to form.
Another warrior-to-lord kind of relationship that may have also formed in Grass for his Pillow was the relationship between Kaede and lord Fujiwara, an imperial noble. When Kaede managed to return to her childhood home, she saw her family’s estate in a state of turmoil. Her mother died and her father was losing to numerous important battles. She was able to attract the interest of lord Fujiwara who decided that he wanted to help Kaede solve her problems. There were a lot of twists in the story but essentially, the relationship that was formed between Kaede and lord Fujiwara was essentially the same kind of relationship that got formed when lord Shigeru decided that he wanted to help Takeo get past through his hurdles in life.
In Yvain, the Knight of the Lion it was the success of Yvain (and the fact that he wanted to avenge his cousin’s death and defeat) against Escalados that served as the founding concept of their relationship—the variable that led to the creation of their working alliance, within the context of comitatus that is. In the story, Yvain was set to avenge the defeat of his cousin by an otherworldly knight named Escalados. Being a skilled warrior himself, he was able to defeat Escalados. Unfortunately, there were some unexpected events that happened when he finally avenged the death and defeat of his kin. Escalados had a wife named Laudine whom Yvain fell in love with. Despite the complications, the two soon got married.
In that case, Yvain was the lord and Laudine was the person (the Knight, although she was not really a knight or a warrior) that needed to be rescued. In comparison to the type of relationship structure between the other characters Kaede and lord Fujiwara (in Grass for His Pillow) and Takeo and lord Shigeru (in Across the Nightingale Floor), the type of relationship structure between Yvain and Laudine was unique in that it was the solving of Yvain’s problem that enabled them to eventually meet and fall in love with each other. In most cases, it is the underdog (Laudine in this case) and the underdog’s problems and dilemmas that cause the formation of the unique lord -to-warrior relationship structure within the context of a comitatus. However, in this case, it clearly was Yvain’s problems and dilemmas, and the way how his problems and dilemmas got solved (by himself, by eventually defeating Escalados, Laudine’s former husband) that led to the formation of the unique relationship between him (Yvain) and Laudine. In the story, after Escalados’ defeat and death, Yvain and Laudine encountered numerous other obstacles that helped them strengthen their partnership or their relationship structure.
Specifically, Yvain was convinced that he was destined to embark on various chivalric and philanthropic adventures. He went away for several months in pursuit of his perceived destiny. In the process, he forgot about his relationship with his lady, Laudine. His relationship with Laudine deteriorated, although he was able to make himself aware of this before it got too late. Wanting to bring things back to its status quo, he decided to rediscover himself and win back his lady. He was able to accomplish this goal. After this great obstacle that he and Laudine had to endure and overcome, their relationship structure just became stronger.
Between the three main characters, the relationship between Yvain and Laudine appears to be the most unique because the existence of their relationship was mutually beneficial for both of them. Laudine was widowed as a result of Yvain’s vengeance against her husband. It happened that Yvain fell in love with her and so they eventually got married. They both needed each other and this is what made them unique among the other relationship structures that were reviewed in this paper. The relationship structure between Kaede and lord Fujiwara was unrealistic because lord Fujiwara’s decision to help Kaede solve her problems did not seem to make sense because it would not really do him any good, aside from being able to know Kaede’s secrets. The same, in fact, goes for the relationship structure between Takeo and lord Shigeru. One important question that Hearn failed to answer in his work would be why lord Shigeru would even want to help Takeo if Takeo had nothing to offer him. What is common among the three relationship structures reviewed in this paper, however, is that their personal alliances were all bonded by unique obstacles.
De Troyes, C. „Yvain, the Knight of the Lion.” Hero of Camelot (1987): 1996. Web.
Hearn, L. „Across the Nightingale Floor.” Lianheart.com (n.d.): 01. Web.
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