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by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe Family Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

"I care not!" said the Jew, rendered desperate by paternal affection; "do thy worst. My daughter is my flesh and blood, dearer to me a thousand times than those limbs which thy cruelty threatens. No silver will I give thee, unless I were to pour it molten down thy avaricious throat – no, not a silver penny will I give thee, Nazarene, were it to save thee from the deep damnation thy whole life has merited! Take my life if thou wilt, and say, the Jew, amidst his tortures, knew how to disappoint the Christian." (22.49)

Isaac's character is one of extremes: on the bad side, he is miserly and obsessed with money. On the good side, he is a deeply devoted father. He loves Rebecca dearly and is willing to undergo torture for her sake. These two extremes – his greed and his paternal love – don't seem particularly realistic to us. Would you say that Isaac is a three-dimensional character? Why or why not?

Quote #5

"Thou dost me injustice," said the Templar; "by earth, sea, and sky, thou dost me injustice! I am not naturally that which you have seen me, hard, selfish, and relentless. It was woman that taught me cruelty, and on woman therefore I have exercised it; but not upon such as thou. Hear
me, Rebecca – Never did knight take lance in his hand with a heart more devoted to the lady of his love than Brian de Bois-Guilbert. [...] Yes, my deeds, my danger, my blood, made the name of Adelaide de Montemare known from the court of Castile to that of Byzantium. And how was I requited? – When I returned with my dear-bought honours, purchased by toil and blood, I found her wedded to a Gascon squire, whose name was never heard beyond the limits of his own paltry domain! Truly did I love her, and bitterly did I revenge me of her broken faith! But my vengeance has recoiled on myself. Since that day I have separated myself from life and its ties – My manhood must know no domestic home – must be soothed by no affectionate wife – My age must know no kindly hearth – My grave must be solitary, and no offspring must outlive me, to bear the ancient name of Bois-Guilbert. At the feet of my Superior I have laid down the right of self-action – the privilege of independence. The Templar, a serf in all but the name, can possess neither lands nor goods, and lives, moves, and breathes, but at the will and pleasure of another." (24.52)

Now we know the secret of Bois-Guilbert's broken heart. He loved a woman once, but while he was off fighting in the Crusades and winning glory in her name, she married some small-fry squire. Heartbroken and enraged, Bois-Guilbert swore off women entirely; as a Knight Templar, he cannot marry, have children, or even own his own home. As Rebecca points out, this is a rather self-punishing form of revenge: we can't see how it's going to help him get even with the woman who broke his heart. However, it does give us an indication of how proud Bois-Guilbert is, how serious he is about his honor, and how much he must honestly love Rebecca to be willing to break his oaths and compromise his pride on her behalf. Bois-Guilbert's genuine love for Rebecca saves him from being an almost cartoonish villain. Like De Bracy, he is more complex than he originally appears.

Quote #6

"My lineage, proud Norman," replied Athelstane, "is drawn from a source more pure and ancient than that of a beggarly Frenchman, whose living is won by selling the blood of the thieves whom he assembles under his paltry standard. Kings were my ancestors, strong in war and wise in council, who every day feasted in their hall more hundreds than thou canst number individual followers; whose names have been sung by minstrels, and their laws recorded by Wittenagemotes; whose bones were interred amid the prayers of saints, and over whose tombs minsters have been builded." (27.88)

When Athelstane speaks to Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, he immediately becomes self-important about his family background. Athelstane is proud of descending from a long line of Saxon kings, but he himself is a lazy, vain, and self-indulgent man. Scott repeatedly tells us that Athelstane has inherited his ancestors' bad traits and not their good ones, so his obsession with his own background seems like a criticism of aristocracy. Are there other characters in the book who also think a great deal about their fathers and forefathers? Do these characters think about family in the same way Athelstane does? Are there any more positive examples of aristocratic families in Ivanhoe?

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