Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Fatima and Zaïre are slaves of Orosmane, sultan of Jerusalem, but their lot is not an unpleasant one. Although Orosmane has the power to treat them as mere chattel and to use them for his pleasure, he treats them with respect and consideration. Nevertheless, Fatima is disturbed to find that Zaïre not only is resigned to her fate but also appears actually to enjoy it. When she asks Zaïre to explain why she no longer weeps or looks forward to the return of Nerestan, who has gone to France to seek ransom for them, Zaïre replies that she finds it difficult to yearn for a mode of life she has never known. Since childhood she has been confined to the sultan’s seraglio under the care of Orosmane, and she has grown fond of her life and even of her master.
Fatima then reminds Zaïre that Nerestan, who conducted himself nobly in the battle of Damas as part of the Christian army fighting against the Turks, had been captured by Orosmane but, because of his courage, was later released on his word to return with ransom for the Christian prisoners, including Fatima and Zaïre. Zaïre replies that two years have passed since Nerestan’s departure and that perhaps Nerestan made the promise to return with ransom for ten slaves only because there was no other way for him to escape a similar servitude. She admits that she admired Nerestan at the time of his promise, but she has decided to think of the matter no longer. Zaïre then confesses to Fatima that Orosmane is...
(The entire section is 1456 words.)
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