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Critical Analysis: Nathan the Wise-Ephraim Lessing (Book Review Sample)


The writer was expected to present a critique of the play 'nathan the wise' by ephraim lessing. tthe sample therefore examines the plot of the play, the themes and the stylistics devices used in the play.


Critical Analysis: Nathan the Wise-Ephraim Lessing
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Critical Analysis: Nathan the Wise-Ephraim Lessing
During the 18th century, various works of literature were produced that redefined the field classical literature. Through the written works such as novels, poems, plays and short stories, information about the socio-political ideologies and events that were happening during the past have been passed to the modern society. The play, ‘Nathan the Wise,’ has played a critical role in the understanding of the need for religious tolerance in the society.
The play examines the life of Nathan, a wise Jewish merchant who has just returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. Nathan encounters Daya, his step-daughter’s companion who narrates to him about the rescue of Recha by a young Templar. In Act I, scene I, Nathan says ‘This sweet illusion yields to sweeter truth’. According to D’Andrea (2001), Nathan decides to embrace religious tolerance and calls for the young Templar to be rewarded for saving the life of Recha even though the Christians and the Saracens had oppressed him due to his religion. The Templar, having been pardoned by sultan Saladin, refuses to obey the orders of King Philip that requires him to kill Saladin. The young knight later develops an attraction towards Recha in a society with different religious ideologies.
The play has focused on several critical themes such as religious intolerance. Since Nathan is a Jewish, he undergoes oppression and suffering from the Christians and Saracens. Both in Jerusalem and Babylon, he is treated as an outcast by individuals of other religious affiliations. The Christians and Saracens therefore fails to practice religious tolerance through discriminating Nathan who is a Jew (Lessing, 1991). In Act III, scene II, ‘Nathan says, ‘Who now can have been with the patriarch’. The prevalence of religious prejudice as depicted in the play symbolizes the level of religious intolerance that exist in the contemporary society. Daya who is a Christian shows prejudice to the young Templar despite having rescued Recha. Daya therefore practices religious intolerance. The play therefore succeeds in showing how the society perceives individuals of other religions.
Another major theme that has been portrayed in the play is love and friendship. Recha shows love to the young Templar who has saved his life in a burning house. Despite the knight being a non-Christian, Recha goes beyond the religious barriers and develops a relationship with the Templar. In Act II, scene I, Recha tells Nathan that, ‘Oh the mere possibility of wishing’ rather to veil and hide them makes me shudder.’ This shows an enduring love that cannot be separated by religion. Nathan also shows love to the people of his community even though they are of different religious affiliations. Due to his love, Nathan does not show prejudice to the Christians and the Saracens. Moreover, he orders Daya to summon the Templar so that he can be rewarded for saving his adopted daughter. Having been mistreated by the Christians, he may have opted to practice religious discrimination against the Christians, however, he accepted p...
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