by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Nay," said Isaac, releasing his hold, "it grieveth me as much to see the drops of his blood, as if they were so many golden byzants from mine own purse; and I well know, that the lessons of Miriam, daughter of the Rabbi Manasses of Byzantium whose soul is in Paradise, have made thee skilful in the art of healing, and that thou knowest the craft of herbs, and the force of elixirs. Therefore, do as thy mind giveth thee – thou art a good damsel, a blessing, and a crown, and a song of rejoicing unto me and unto my house, and unto the people of my fathers." (28.9)
In this passage, Isaac addresses Rebecca, who has persuaded him to bring Ivanhoe to their house to treat his wounds. Isaac is reluctant at first, but he admits that she's right. He compliments his daughter as "a blessing, and a crown, and a song of rejoicing" for Isaac and their family. What he's saying is nice, but the way he says it is almost ridiculously rigid. Isaac's language often sounds Biblical, loaded with references to the Old Testament and full of "thees," "thous," and "thys" instead of "yous" and "yours." Does this sound like a realistic speech from father to daughter? How would you describe Isaac's relationship with Rebecca? How does it compare to the other father-child relationships in the book?
"The Grand Master thinks otherwise," said Mont-Fitchet; "and, Albert, I will be upright with thee – wizard or not, it were better that this miserable damsel die, than that Brian de Bois-Guilbert should be lost to the Order, or the Order divided by internal dissension. Thou knowest his high rank, his fame in arms – thou knowest the zeal with which many of our brethren regard him – but all this will not avail him with our Grand Master, should he consider Brian as the accomplice, not the victim, of this Jewess. Were the souls of the twelve tribes in her single body, it were better she suffered alone, than that Bois-Guilbert were partner in her destruction." (36.42)
There are a lot of different kinds of loyalty in this book. There's the loyalty between king and subject (King Richard and Ivanhoe), between people of the same faith (Isaac and Rabbi Nathan ben Israel), people of the same nation (Athelstane and Cedric), and family members (Rebecca and Isaac). The Knights Templar are not necessarily connected by blood or national identity, but the oaths they have taken to the Order, and their economic and political investment in making the Knights Templar the strongest organization of warriors in the world, mean they are deeply attached to each other. The Order of the Knights Templar is kind of like an earlier, more violent version of a college fraternity. Their loyalty to their fellow brothers makes them go to great lengths to try to protect Bois-Guilbert, even when he has clearly broken their own laws.
"If I appear," said Bois-Guilbert, "in the fatal lists, thou diest by a slow and cruel death, in pain such as they say is destined to the guilty hereafter. But if I appear not, then am I a degraded and dishonoured knight, accused of witchcraft and of communion with infidels – the illustrious name which has grown yet more so under my wearing, becomes a hissing and a reproach. I lose fame, I lose honour, I lose the prospect of such greatness as scarce emperors attain to – I sacrifice mighty ambition, I destroy schemes built as high as the mountains with which heathens say their heaven was once nearly scaled – and yet, Rebecca," he added, throwing himself at her feet, "this greatness will I sacrifice, this fame will I renounce, this power will I forego, even now when it is half within my grasp, if thou wilt say, Bois-Guilbert, I receive thee for my lover." (39.35)
In a sense, Bois-Guilbert's offer to Rebecca is as romantic as it gets: he promises to give up his whole world so they can escape England together. He'll forsake the name and position he has spent his adult life fighting to build just to be with her. But his crazy, obsessive love mostly comes across as creepy. Rebecca has always been upfront with him about her own feelings: she has no interest in him, and she finds his atheism and ambition distasteful and even a bit scary.
If there's one message Ivanhoe conveys about love, it's that it's unreasonable and sometimes insane. Bois-Guilbert falls hard for Rebecca at first sight, and Rebecca's love for Ivanhoe appears equally groundless. She knows Ivanhoe is prejudiced against Jewish people and that he is in love with Rowena, but she can't seem to help her feelings for him.