Sunday, September 06, 2009


I'm still convinced the book should have been called Rebecca, not Ivanhoe. She is by the far the strongest and most admirable character in the novel. Apparently Scott himself stated somewhere that she was the one most worthy of Ivanhoe's love but marriage at that time between a Christian and a Jew was unthinkable. Here's the real question: Was Ivanhoe worthy of Rebecca's love? His anti-Semitism is rampant. The author describes his "contempt" for Isaac even as he helps him and the minute he hears Rebecca is a Jewess his eyes go "cold." Whereas, the passionate Norman Bois-Guilbert, by the end of the book, is willing to give up everything - wealth, title, power, ambition - for Rebecca's love. Despite his cruelty and arrogance, Brian is presented as a passionate and tormented man (crossed in love before Rebecca as it happens), intelligent beyond his time in the way he considers all religion foolish superstition and uses the term "bigot" for the Christian anti-Semites. Truly, the two most fascinating and original characters in this book are the conflicted Rebecca and Brian, and not your standard one-dimensional heroic types seen in Richard, Robin, and Ivanhoe. Great stuff!

No comments: