Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe Essay examples

1151 Words 5 Pages
Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, a romantic story set in Medieval England; embodies the definition of how a novel’s themes are applied to human life. The representation of Jews in Ivanhoe, through the character Rebecca, outlines the most important themes within the novel such as chivalry, romance, and centuries long English Anti-Semitism.
Many interpret Ivanhoe as a solely Anti-Semitic work, focusing on the rituals of the Templar Knight, highlighted in the concluding chapters of Ivanhoe. The Templar Knights are described and consisted of a secret society of Christian militant men dressed in white, condemning any of dark-complexioned skin; all traits and rituals of the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan’s very name echoes the romantic “clans” in
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Rebecca, for both Ivanhoe and Bois-Guilbert, is Jerusalem itself; an irresistible, chivalric quest that ends with a duel to the death. It is understandable that Ivanhoe would not present as much affection to Rowena, as he does to Rebecca throughout the novel. In comparison, readers find that Rowena seems disappointing to Ivanhoe after experiencing the seductions of Rebecca’s beauty and exotic nature. And it is Rebecca who is the object of Ivanhoe’s and Bois-Guilbert’s desires, which provides the climax of action within the novel. Ivanhoe’s restless, half-dead ride to rescue Rebecca, prepared to desert Rowena even at the moment of their betrothal, reinforces his militant and chivalric identity; “he shows us that the impediments to his union with Rowena have never been important. It is the impossible union with Rebecca that drives him, and with it the real action of the novel” (xxi). However, Bois-Guilbert attempts to break his chivalric self-love by means of his passion for Rebecca, “yonder girl hath wellnigh unmanned me.” (pg. 401-402) In the end, Bois-Guilbert, through his death, renounces his knighthood and chivalry but forever declares his love for Rebecca. Rebecca presents the theme of romance in different forms. To the characters’ Bois-Guilbert and Ivanhoe, Rebecca is the symbol of white man’s attraction and resistance to
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