Ivanhoe: chapter5-8

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Chapter V
The stranger is an old man named Isaac, who is a Jew. Because of this fact he is treated coldly, although he is given food. At the main table, there is some verbal sparring between Saxon and Norman, before the topic turns to the Crusades. Rowena is anxious to hear that English warriors have excelled there, and De Bois-Guilbert confirms that the English soldiers are second only to the Knights Templar. But then the pilgrim interjects a story that shows how the English knights proved superior to the Knights Templar in a tournament that he witnessed. De Bois-Guilbert is upset by this, since he was one of the defeated knights on that occasion, and he demands to know the names of the English knights. The pilgrim happily supplies them, except for that of a young knight whose name he forgets. De Bois-Guilbert supplies the name for him—it was Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe was the knight who defeated him (De Bois-Guilbert blames his horse), and De Bois-Guilbert says that he would like to battle Ivanhoe again in the upcoming tournament. The pilgrim replies that Ivanhoe is still in Palestine. However, it is agreed that if he should return, he will be honor-bound to accept the challenge. The guests then retire for the night, but not before De Bois-Guilbert has insulted Isaac, who is also planning to go to the tournament.
Chapter VI
Rowena summons the palmer (pilgrim) to her apartment. She asks him to tell her everything he knows about Ivanhoe. The palmer says he knows little about him, but does know that he plans shortly to return to England. Rowena hopes that he will appear in time for the tournament. She is worried about him because she fears he will face danger in England. The pilgrim is then escorted out and shown to his room. He has been placed between Isaac and Gurth. After sleeping until just after dawn, the palmer visits Isaac. He tells him that he should leave immediately or he will be in danger. This is because De Bois-Guilbert has told his men to seize him and take him to a Norman castle. Isaac is terrified, but the palmer agrees to escort him on his journey until the danger has passed. The palmer leads him beyond the land of the Norman Front-de-Boeuf, where the danger lies, and they part company near Sheffield, where Isaac will be able to lodge with Zareth, a fellow Jew. Isaac insists on rewarding the palmer for his trouble. He has guessed that the palmer is a knight in disguise, and he sends him with a note to a rich Jew in Leicester. This man will lend him his choice of fine horses and everything else he will need for the tournament. All he has to promise is to return them after the tournament or repay the equivalent value.
Chapter VII
The tournament is to take place at Ashby, in Leicestershire. Prince John will be in attendance, and rich and poor alike are also looking forward to the spectacle. All the knights of renown will be competing. Spectators are seated according to their rank, but there are some quarrels and disputes. Isaac is roundly abused for trying to get himself and Rebecca into one of the best positions. However, he feels confident in a public place because he knows Prince John is negotiating a large loan from the Jews of York, and Isaac is very much involved in this. Prince John then enters; Prior Aymer of Jorvaulx is one of his party. Prince John spots Rebecca and greatly admires her appearance. He orders the Saxons in the good seats in the gallery to make way for Isaac and his daughter. The Saxons happen to be Cedric and his kinsman, Athelstane of Coningsburgh. Athelstane refuses to move, and John orders De Bracy, a mercenary knight attached to Prince John, to prick him with his lance. Cedric intervenes, severing the point of De Bracy’s lance from the handle. For a moment it appears that violence might break out, but the danger passes. Prince John again calls for Isaac to sit in the gallery with the powerful. Cedric does not dare to stop him, but some foolery from Wamba results in Isaac tripping up and falling down the stairs. When he recovers he makes his way to a less important seat. To add insult to injury, Prince John then demands that Isaac hand over some money immediately.
Chapter VIII
Prince John says that he may vote for Rebecca as the fair Sovereign of Love and of Beauty at the tournament. His companions are horrified, and Prince John says he was only joking. It is decided that the knight who becomes the champion should choose the lady. As the knights emerge on horseback, they make an impressive and colorful sight. They choose the “arms of courtesy,” in which a round flat board is fixed to the tip of the lance, so that no injury occurs. The tournament begins, and De Bois-Guilbert, Front-de-Boeuf and another knight named Sir Philip Malvoisin, gain quick victories, unseating their opponents. Cedric is unhappy because he sees this as yet another Norman triumph over Saxons. De Bois-Guilbert continues to have success, overthrowing two knights and foiling a third. Then a trumpet sounds and a new champion appears, seated on a black horse. On his shield is a Spanish word meaning Disinherited. Everyone is astonished as he challenges De Bois-Guilbert to mortal combat. Few think that the Disinherited Knight has a chance. Their first encounter is inconclusive, but on the second, the Disinherited Knight unhorses De Bois-Guilbert. The Disinherited Knight then defeats Front-de-Boeuf, Malvoisin, De Grantmesnil and Ralph de Vipont. He wins the day’s award by unanimous acclaim.

Chapter V introduces the theme of anti-Semitism. All the Christian characters treat Isaac as an outcast, although the pilgrim (who is Ivanhoe in disguise) treats him better than most. In medieval Europe, the Jews were a despised race because they had rejected Christ and continued to practice their own religion. Scott’s portrait of Isaac has much in common with the usual stereotype of the Jew. Isaac the money-lender is presented as avaricious, being excessively concerned with money. Historically, there is a very good reason why Jews turned to money-lending in order to survive. It was because they were banned from virtually every profession.
The epigraph to Chapter V, which is a quotation from Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, is relevant for the portrait of Isaac. That play, in which Shylock the Jew appears, undoubtedly has many anti-Semitic elements. But Shakespeare also shows the human side of Shylock, and this is emphasized in the quotation Scott selected for his epigraph. One of Shylock’s redeeming features is that, like Isaac, he has a beautiful daughter whom he loves. Shylock is grief-stricken when his daughter Jessica elopes with a Christian, just as later in Ivanhoe, Isaac is distraught when Rebecca is kidnapped by De-Bois Guilbert. Isaac’s love for his daughter softens the anti-Semitism present in his characterization, as does his gratitude and generosity toward Ivanhoe.
Rebecca, although Jewish, is not presented in a hostile manner. In fact, the reverse is the case. She is probably the most noble character in the entire novel.
It is also as well to bear in mind when reading Ivanhoe that in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare shows that the Christians are no better than the Jew they despise.
The conflict between Ivanhoe and De Bois-Guilbert, which began before the novel started and continues at the tournament in Ashby, runs through the entire novel. It is a duel not only between Norman and Saxon, but between true chivalry and false chivalry. Although Ivanhoe is a Saxon, he exhibits all the finest qualities of chivalry, whereas the hypocritical, corrupt De Bois-Guilbert reveals chivalry at its worst. (By chivalry is meant qualities such as valor, nobility, fairness, courtesy, and respect for women.)

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