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Walter Scott Appears Sympathetic to Isaac'S Troubles. How Does Scott Highlight the Treatment Given to Jews Through the Character of Isaac? - English (Literature in English)

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Answer in Brief

Walter Scott appears sympathetic to Isaac's troubles. How does Scott highlight the treatment given to Jews through the character of Isaac? 

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Solution

The portrait of Isaac the Jew in Ivanhoe is generally an unfavorable one, indeed an unflattering stereotype derived from The Merchant of Venice and Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta of the Jew as a contemptible or comic miser. Scott introduces Isaac in chapter five which bears the well-known words from The Merchant of Venice as its motto, “Hath not a Jew's eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?” Scott introduces Isaac with a few deft strokes but adds important explanatory notes, “Introduced with little ceremony, and advancing with fear and hesitation, and many a bow of deep humility, a tall & thin old man. Scott here picks out two classes of persecutors of Jews, “the credulous and prejudiced vulgar,” and “the greedy and rapacious nobility,” to which he, a little later in the novel, adds a third class, the religious bigot. If the Jew has a mean and unamiable look it is because of the role he has been forced into by years of persecution. Scott seems acutely aware of the plight of the Jews in 12th Century England, “His [Isaac’s] doubts might have been indeed pardoned; for, except perhaps the flying fish, there was no race existing on the earth, in the air, or the waters, who were the object of such an unintermitting, general, and relentless persecution as the Jews of this period. In spite of every kind of discouragement, and even of the special court of taxations already mentioned, called the Jews' Exchequer, erected for the very purpose of despoiling and distressing them, the Jews increased, multiplied, and accumulated huge sums, which they transferred from one band to another by means of bills of exchange — an invention for which commerce is said to be indebted to them, and which enabled them to transfer their wealth from land to land, that when threatened with oppression in one country, their treasure might be secured in another.

Concept: Writing
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