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Andersen Jewish Maiden Essay

2838 words - 12 pages

Jun Xu
Christopher Bishop
Lit Trans 275
25 April, 2012
Image of Jewish Women’s Identity in 19th Century Denmark
Imagine, how bad can a person’s life be? How about being in the lower class in society, struggling mentally, and being tortured by one’s own identity both sexually and racially? In Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Servant,” the protagonist, named Sara, lives exactly such an unpleasant life. In this paper, Jewish identity, the role of women in 19th century Christian Denmark, and how these two identities intersect will be analyzed. In this tale, Andersen uses the dichotomy of “Deity and Death” to portrait the life of the unique character with both Jewish ...view middle of the document...

” (Andersen 488) Clearly, rules of Judaism are laws to Sara. Most importantly, they carry their religious belief and traditions from their ancestors, or in another words, they have to do with no choices. Religion, or in another word, God has affected the Jewish cultures. Robert Chasan writes, “ …the notion of God’s intervention on behalf of his people and his messengers was well rooted in prior Jewish tradition and constitutes a line of argumentation that would surely have been understandable to a Jewish Audience.” (10) It has been very common and natural for Jewish people to live with their religious belief. It is also very important for Jews to follow God and his will, because religion had become an essential part of their daily life. “Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God developed with the Children of Israel.” (Rosen) Being loyal to Judaism is the same important as being loyal to their parents, according to Jewish culture.
According to Professor Scott Mellor, people believe in God when they do not have the power or ability to change certain things. Therefore, one must benefit from their belief and gains power from their belief. However, Sara has been tortured by the “belief” that forced to cast upon her. “…but Sarah, the Jewish girl, sitting so still in a corner, felt her heart burn with excitement. Great tears came into her shining dark eyes; and with the same gentle piety with which she had once listened to the gospel while sitting on the form at school, she felt its grandeur now, and the tears rolled down her cheeks.” (Andersen 489) Christianity is believed to develop from the Judaism and they share the same god. Through changes, two religions develop into their own path that their followers fail to agree with each other in some religious descriptions. For example, “Christian claims associated with Jesus’ miracles were, in Jewish eyes, incorrect, though not incomprehensible. Miracles had an acknowledged place in Jewish thinking of late antiquity and the Middle Ages.” (Robert 11) The power of Judaism and God has embedded into Jews’ mind as righteousness and law, which in turn, have changed and shaped Jews’ traditions and standards. In “The Servant”, Andersen writes “…but her Sabbath was a working day among the Christians, which was a great trouble to her.” (488). The conflicts exist in daily life between Christianity and Judaism. Nevertheless, the thought and traditions pass from one generation to another as they deeply embedded in Jewish people’s daily life. “Succeeding generations of Christians always imaged the Jew as powerful suppressor and enemy of Christian values. Jews, from the beginning, felt a need to dispute Christian claims (aiming to convince and convert); sometimes they were forced to debate” (12) Sara, as well as her mother, is clearly under the dominance of traditional thought that Christian and Jews are opposite and are even enemies of each other. “”To...

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