Critical Essays Importance of Religion


Although knights are important in Ivanhoe, the Crusades are merely referred to. In one instance, however, the Grand Master seems to blame priests such as Prior Aymer and some of the Templars for the loss of the Holy Land by Christians, "place by place, foot by foot, before the infidels."

The Catholic church suffers indignity by the character of Prior Aymer. The Dutch writer Bos says he is a "character revolting to true Catholics." Friar Tuck on the other hand, is not a true priest, or is considered an "unfrocked one" by most Catholics and therefore not a reflection upon the church.

Although Scott came in for some abuse for his treatment of the Catholic church, most Catholics have long since written off his characters as caricatures having little to do with the faith, and his scenes such as the funeral rites of Athelstane as burlesque.

Scott's "typical Jew" as depicted in Isaac is typical of the stereotyped member of a race hated for his usury and more particularly for his religion, since the Christian Crusaders were incensed against anyone who was an unbeliever in Christ as the messiah. They laid at the door of any Jew the responsibility for Christ's crucifixion.

The "typical Jew" as shown by Rebecca, her comments, and religious fervor, is certainly more sympathetic. Wamba also makes pithy observations; for example in a saucy retort to the haughty Templar, he says, "By my faith, it would seem the Templars love the Jews' inheritance better than they do their company."

The love interest of Rebecca and Wilfred is unlikely, as is the kindly attitude of Rowena toward Rebecca. The close contact would probably never have taken place, and as one author puts it, "is probably true only in the kindness of Scott's own heart."

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