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Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Lessing, German writer and critic, combined the theory and practice of drama in much the same way as Shaw and Granville Barker.
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Return to Book Page. His fat Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. Hermit monk named Brother Bonafides. On October 1, Nathan the Wise became the first performance of this new federation. Before Lessing wrote Nathan the Weise , Goeze verbally attacked Lessing and other Enlightenment thinkers for their unorthodox theological and moral views. The Sultan recalls the youth who resembles his brother, and bids Nathan bring him to his court. Read on your iOS and Android devices Get more info.
Jun 27, Christopher rated it liked it. The Jews is enjoyable but felt a bit like a simple farcical plot which was disconnected from the sociopolitical story and Lessing jammed the two together. Nathan the Wise is a full play whose subject is advanced for its time, though it didn't emotionally or intellectually engage me.
Chrissy Anderson rated it liked it Sep 21, Meltem Altan rated it liked it Oct 21, Eveliene rated it liked it May 18, EcoDesk Pomona rated it it was ok Jan 26, Allegra marked it as to-read Nov 21, Doris marked it as to-read Mar 29, BookDB marked it as to-read Oct 17, Nathan takes in Recha, a baptized Christian, only days after Christians killed his wife and seven sons.
In doing so, he demonstrates that real love comes without conditions. That she is a Christian does not affect his decision; what does is that a child in need comes to his attention. He rears her with unconditional love, instilling in her the virtues that all religions value. Other major characters—Saladin, Sittah, the friar, and eventually the Templar—also recognize the importance of unconditional love.
Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing ( ) was an influential playwright and theare critic whose plays were among the first. From his immense literary output two plays stand out - The Jews and Nathan the Wise - for the passion of the writing and the timeless urgency.
Unity Amid Division and Diversity. Nathan the Wise demonstrates that unity and harmony are possible even among persons of diverse backgrounds. Consider that Saladin and Sittah are Muslims. The knight is the Christian son of Saladin's brother, Assad, a Muslim.
Recha is the daughter of a Muslim, Assad, but was baptized a Christian and reared by a Jew. As Assad's brother, Saladin becomes the uncle of the knight and Recha, and Sittah becomes their aunt. Nathan is the adoptive father of Recha and thus a non-blood brother of Saladin and Sittah. They all become one family a the end of the play.
The climax occurs when Nathan reveals that the Templar and Recha are the children of Saladin's deceased brother, Assad. This development unites the Templar, a Christian knight; Recha, the adopted daughter of a Jew; and Saladin, a Muslim ruler. Thus, they—like the three religions—become members of the same family. One may divide the plot structure into three divisions with the titles "Ignorance," "Enlightenment," and Unity.
Moreover, Saladin lacks the answer to an important question: Which of the three great religions in Jerusalem is the true religion? Nathan's story about the three rings enlightens Saladin, and his research into the background of Assad with the help of the friar enlightens the knight and Recha about backgrounds. After enlightenment replaces ignorance, the principal characters unite into a single family.
Maltreatment of Jews was commonplace among Christians and other non-Jews at the time of the Crusades, as it was in other eras of history. Ironically, however, the most Christlike character in Lessing's play is Nathan.
He practices Christ's admonishments to "love thy neighbor" Matthew When the Templar asks the permission of Nathan to marry his daughter, Recha, Nathan says he no longer has any claims on her. A relative of Recha has been found out, a brother, and she must be delivered into the brother's hands, Nathan says. The reader and playgoer learn at the end of the play that the brother is the Templar. The Templar's military enemy is the Muslim army. At the end of the play, the reader learns that the Templar is the son of a Muslim.
See Foreshadowing , above. The most obvious example of dramatic irony is Recha's ignorance of her Christian background. The three sons in the story that Nathan tells Saladin represent the adherents of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The tree of life has many branches and roots. Let not the topmost twig presume to think that it alone has sprung from mother earth We did not choose our races for ourselves.
Jews, Moslems, Christians--all alike are men. Let me hope I have found in you--a man. The Templar apologizes and takes Nathan's hand in friendship. Names are exchanged, and Nathan appears surprised to learn that the youth's name is Curd von Stauffen. He says no more, for he is summoned by the Sultan who seeks a loan.
Saladin is impressed by the gentleness and wisdom of Nathan, and impulsively asks what religion seems to him the truest and best. In answer, Nathan relates a story: Whoever wore the ring was endowed with the magic power to win the love of God and man. When the owner of the ring died, he left it to his favorite son; and when the son died, he left it in turn to his favorite son. He decided to have made two more rings, so exactly like the first that he was unable to distinguish among them, and gave one to each son.
But the sons fought among themselves, each claiming to have the original--exactly, Nathan points out, as the Jews, the Mohammedans and the Christians are wrangling about their three faiths. Asked for his own advice, Nathan quotes Saladin the words of the judge to whom the sons came: