Nathan, a Jewish merchant and sage who suffers the loss of his family and fortune during the Third Crusade. As a tragic hero, he always repays evil with good, as he does when he adopts an orphan girl immediately after losing his own family. Although he seems more Christian than Jew—indeed, he acts the part of Christ in his devotion and wisdom—he is really a humanitarian who believes there are many ways either to enter heaven or to establish heaven on Earth. Self-reliant, generous, fearless, and tolerant, he serves as a contrast to the wily Christians and the rather vengeful Muhammadans.
Recha, his adopted daughter, in reality the orphaned niece of the Sultan Saladin. Under her devoted foster father’s tutelage, she shares many of his virtues. She is beautiful within and without. Her attraction for the young knight, Conrad von Stauffen, is merely sentimental and not romantic, a fact that is more understandable when they prove to be brother and sister. Grateful to Conrad for saving her life, she and Nathan wish to reward the young man, but he, though poor and a stranger, takes a strange view of charity and rebuffs all attempts to aid him. Recha’s touching naïveté and innocence form an interesting contrast to the intrigue and cruelty that exist in a world torn by religious prejudice and conflict.
Conrad von Stauffen
Conrad von Stauffen, a disillusioned young Templar who strongly opposes religious wars, in reality a Saracen prince. High-minded, open-hearted, and yet reserved, the Templar...
(The entire section is 650 words.)