The Letters of Abelard and Heloise Imagery

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise Imagery


When Abelard talks about his mentor in divinity, he compares him to a tree that is unable to produce any fruit. Through this, Abelard highlights his teacher’s incompetence and that fact that while his teacher may be known as being wise, in reality he is useless in reality. The comparison between a person who has no value and a tree which is unable to produce fruits appears in the Bible and is re-used by Abelard in his letters.


After Heloise proposes to Abelard that she becomes his mistress, Abelard goes to his sister, hoping to hear that she has a different view on marriage than Heloise. Instead, Lucilla begins to describe marriage as a tomb where love is buried and eventually dies. This image appears as well when Heloise talks about love and the idea of marriage is almost every time linked with some image that suggests confinement and death.


The letters contain many references from the Bible and mentions on numerous time Biblical characters. When Heloise and Abelard talk about God, they create the image of a kind father, interested in their children and who makes sure that they are on the right path. The image of God as a father is the predominate image in all the letters and this idea is taken as well from the Bible where God is associated with the image of a loving father.

God and his children

In his last letter, Abelard describes the ideal way he and Heloise should be. He thinks that they should behave like saints, use their bodies only as vessels and fill their time with meditation, silence and prayer. Through this, the image of the perfect Christian is created, an ideal version of man who is preoccupied only by religious matters.

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