1576 WordsJul 11, 20187 Pages
William Hazlitt, a British writer during the early 1800’s once said, “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” During the eighteenth-century, the time period in which Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote his play, Nathan the Wise, there was much religious prejudice displayed throughout Europe, specifically against the Jewish and Muslim populations. For instance, Ronald Schechter notes, “eighteenth-century writers typically portrayed Jews as greedy moneylenders, [and] depicted Muslims as violent despots and servants of the despots” (4). Many people perceived Christianity as the only true religion; however, Lessing challenges these notions of Christian superiority throughout his play. One way he does this is by not portraying the Christian…show more content…
Throughout the play, the Templar is depicted as being very reserved, often “walking back and forth under the palms that shade the grave of the Resurrected One” (27). It is here that the Templar turns down many pleas from Daja to come see Recha, the one he rescued from a fire, and to accept rewards offered by Nathan. He also turns down a request from the Patriarch to escort a group of men in the killing of Saladin. The Templar says in response to the Patriarch’s request, “I owe my life to Saladin, and I should rob him of his?” (41). Another line from the play that portrays the Templar of being compassionate is in Act V, Scene 5, he offers to convert to Islam if it is the only way he is able to marry Recha (109). The author uses the Templar to demonstrate that although there can be unethical followers of Christianity, there are also ethical followers; thus, portraying Christianity not utterly negative. The friar is also depicted modestly, specifically in Act IV, Scene 7 in which he turns down the gifts Nathan offers to him and says, “I’d be stealing from the poor. I won’t take any” (95). This statement suggests modesty because “the friar belongs to a mendicant order” (37), but here the Friar is calling Nathan, a man who has many riches, poor. In addition, the Friar is compassionate towards other religions, specifically Judaism, as illustrated in Act IV, Scene 7, “And isn’t all of Christianity built on Judaism? It’s often

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