“Nathan The Wise” Play By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Sample Paper

Nathan the Wise is a dramatic work by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing which is outstanding for its close relation to the epoch of the Enlightenment. It is an outstanding German play in five acts that discloses most of the ideals of the era. The theme of rationality in relation to religion is highlighted in it. Thus, the survey on the reasons of the protagonist in his attitudinal background is analyzed in the work. Nathan and his wisdom are represented for the purpose to work out the religious problem for mankind. This idea is vital. It is significant to analyze the play so that to provide solutions for current controversies on the religious grounds between representatives of various religions. In this respect, the main criticism is implied in the paper by means of the identification of the Enlightenment ideals. The ideal of reason is designated in the paper to be paramount for solving the conflict in the play. Though, the methodology presupposes direct identification of reason in the conversation between the main characters. Not to make the problem grow due to the religious contradictions, there should be a mere extent of tolerance and common sense in people. The conclusion of the play states that there should be equality in the measurement of peoples’ beliefs, notwithstanding the gods to which they are worshipping. Lessing’s interpretation in the play shows his philosophical position as of tolerance in religious aspects. Thus, being wise, one should make huge efforts in the field of reason.

The description of the play can be evaluated as the greatest attempt of the author to point out the significance of religious tolerance for people. This is also an attempt to show the distance in the understanding of the world between representatives of three religions, namely: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The enlightened nature of the three characters, Nathan, sultan Saladin, and Templar, is depicted in terms of the main motives of the era. In other words, each of them stays for the idea of personal devotion toward definite religion. The first glimpse at which a reader should concentrate attention is that the protagonist is represented, as a Jew. The actions take place in terms of the third crusade.

Hence, the idea of tolerance in the religious field should be prior within different nations. There should be no imposition of some alien beliefs. It violates a man’s right to choose the religion which he/she adores. The reason should manifest the readiness of people to communicate, notwithstanding their religious preferences. Thereupon, in Act I the protagonist has a conversation with two women, Daya and Recha. Here Nathan is represented in the role of a prophet who provides instructions and moral remarks for them. The significance of the predominant role of the reason is depicted by Nathan in one of his remarks to Daya:

Weaves wild enthusiasms to her dazzled spirit,

Now clothing Passion in the garb of Reason,

And Reason now in Passion’s–do I err?

This last is Recha’s fate–Romantic notions – (Lessing 1:1 4).

However, some people would say that without signifying a definite religion, it can defeat owing to the oppression of another religious thought. This assumption is fair in some respects, but the military bloody approach is not a way out. The play is concerned with a key concept of Ring Parable. Altogether with the concept of reason and humane, Ring Parable constitutes the unification of all religions. By such an attempt Nathan was apt to communicate with sultan Saladin. The enlightened Nathan is able to point out that “sweet illusions” are worthless when the “sweeter truth” appears (Lessing 1:1 4). Here the explanation of the ring and promises for its owners correlates the idea of the fairy tale. However, the idea of reason is displayed in the conversation of Nathan with Saladin. Nevertheless, this legend about the ring is also a manifestation of the reason in Nathan.

The play is really rational in its conceptualization. The subject matter of Ring Parable expresses the solution for making people stop struggling. It is owing to the fact that neither Nathan nor Saladin and Templar were the owners of the ring. So there is a ground for making a conclusion about the sense of their difference. Correct thinking and reasoning about the world and its highest values, meaning religion, is a lacking factor in the plat to be replenished. The conversation between Nathan and Templar touches upon a man mindful of people. The main point is about how a templar should think. Here the arguments by Templar are confronted with more persuasive counterarguments by Nathan the Wise:

Still templars –

And only OUGHT to think–and all because

The rules and vows enjoin it to the ORDER –

I know how good men think–know that all lands

Produce good men (Lessing 2:3 22).

The key concept of the Ring Parable is seen, as Nathan’s means for making no quarrels among the characters. It is witty indeed because the bloodiest wars were raised on the basis of religious controversies. A real Wiseman is that one who is able to have an idea for living prospects concerning every case of life. This is emphasized in the way Lessing represents the stubbornness of the protagonist. The rational way for having a pleasant outlook in the eyes of God is considered by Nathan with the ring. This metaphor is used in the play to show the relation to medieval concepts. The concepts of true devotion and brevity in life make a juncture with religious aspects. The points on idealism are disclosed in the discussion rather than simple and familiar deism. The talk between Nathan and Saladin is rather emotional, but not without the mere extent of reason. It is first seen in the response of Nathan when he rejects to call himself the Wise. This illustrates his personal criticism, as being subordinate to Higher Power.

The Aristotelian six elements of a play are represented in Nathan the Wise with the particular determination of all features. The plot is appropriately structured. The language reflects the poetical trends of the epoch. Characters are selected according to their origin and preferences in religious aspects of life. The theme represents Enlightenment ideals. The spectacle is highly emotional, and the music of it seems to be silent with spontaneous pauses or overtones.

The play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Nathan the Wise provides main insights in the sphere of international and multicultural relations. It is an illustration of how people in most cases do not follow the way of reason in religious prospects. The key concepts of reason, humane, and Ring Parable provide the solutions for the discussion. Moreover, Nathan provides the model of a man with rational thinking. It touches upon what is happening or what can be inflicted by means of peoples’ controversies in the point of great nicety, namely religion.


Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. Nathan the Wise. New York: Cassell & Company, 1893.

The Industrial Revolution And Its Effects On America


When America became independent in 1776, it was primarily an agrarian society. Farmers and artisans tilled the land and conducted business either from their homes or from small shops within their localities. People made their clothes, furniture, tools, and other products; while the skilled craftsmen made metal goods, dishes, watches and shoes among other products. Trading was localized as there were no reliable or good enough means to transport manufactured and imported goods to the remote and isolated rural towns. The United States was richly endowed with natural resources such as waterways, vast and fertile tracks of unoccupied land; all of which helped to drive the revolution. Forests provided timber for house and shipbuilding, fuel, furniture and barrels among other products while rich iron ore deposits were processed into raw iron and later as the industrial revolution set in; into steel. But despite all of America’s natural wealth, the industrial revolution originated not from this land of plenty but in Britain, during the early 18th century (Brezina 8-9; Bagley 10).

The industrial revolution and its effects on America

The Industrial Revolution refers to a period in world history that was characterized by very rapid technological growth. This revolution started in Britain during the mid-eighteenth century, and for the next 150 years or so, technological advancement had spread out to the rest of the world. The revolution began with a total transformation of the textile industry from being a primarily cottage industry using handlooms and spinning wheels to the invention of the flying shuttle. Through this invention, weavers could now work faster and because demand for thread was higher than the spinners could produce. Other inventors sooner stepped in and built spinning machines. Among these inventors was Richard Arkwright who in 1769 invented a huge water-powered spinning frame. By 1785, the textile industry had shifted from homes into big factories where the services of textile workers now changed from weaving to operating machines in the upcoming factories. Other innovations were the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, and a refined version of it by James Watt in 1769. Iron and steel became important raw materials for the construction of railways, houses and factories, as well as industrial machinery (Industrial Revolution in America 45-46; Brezina 9-10).

In the USA, the revolution accelerated after the American Civil War. Although a lot of developments had been taking place even during the war years, industry and modern business went through enormous growth in the post-war era causing many people to become doubtful whether operations of such large magnitude would eventually benefit the entire society. This was mainly because as industrialization accelerated, it became clear that economic and industrial power was in the hands of very few people. Industrialization was not only enormous but was also unchecked by federal government regulations. Many people had adopted Darwin’s theory that only the nations responding to changing circumstances taking place in the world would be able to survive. To such people, such incredible industrial growth was a sign of genius and superior intellect (Olson & Shadle 200, 234; Horn & Schaffner 494).

Through the revolution, the system by which goods were produced changed dramatically in the whole world; and many agrarian societies were transformed into modern economies driven by industry and manufacturing of goods. Manual and animal labor was replaced by machinery while innovators discovered better and more reliable methods of converting raw materials into manufactured products useful for various human needs. In the USA, the Industrial Revolution’s transformation of society was very striking. Between the building of America’s first factory in 1790 and the manufacture of the average American’s car by Henry Ford in 1908, the USA went through tremendous changes; being transformed from a sparsely populated farming nation into an urbanized and highly industrialized society. Historians have argued that it is through the technological developments that took place during this period that the stage was set through which the USA would gradually be lifted into the superpower it is today (Industrial Revolution in America 145, 259; Brezina 5-6).

While early Americans had spent most of their time farming and doing household chores, the newly industrialized society subjected people to longer working hours in the industries and factories, but for considerably lower wages. As a result of technological advancement, societies went through new social perils where farmers and jobless artisans were swept into the growing industrial cities to provide much-needed labor in the factories. But the growth of industries was tremendous and these laborers were soon replaced with unskilled cheap labor whereby entire families, children inclusive, were forced to work, widening the gap between the rich and the poor to undesirable scales. The high demand for labor in industries in turn led to massive movement of people from the rural areas into the industrial urban centers in search of employment and better living standards. With time the transportation sector also went through tremendous change, allowing easy and cheaper movement of goods and people between places (Olson & Shadle 234; Brezina 4, 10).

Advanced technology made production of goods in the industries and factories easier and much faster. Goods that had previously been considered luxuries for the wealthier minorities could now be produced in very large volumes and became available for a large part of the population. Because machinery had reduced the costs of production, the goods became cheaper as well and many of the working force could afford to buy more consumer goods than had earlier been the case. This helped to improve the standard of living for many Americans. Increased consumer spending and exports in turn led to great growth of the American economy. Machinery operation and assembly lines in the manufacturing industries and factories also created many jobs for the masses. But just like the cheap production of goods, these jobs paid very low wages and these workers could hardly make ends meet. There was the excitement of spending and enjoying new luxuries and many of them could not afford decent housing, and filth-ridden tenements became the dwelling of the new middle-class. Industrialization benefited in reality benefited most, the inventors and owners of various factories and companies (Industrial Revolution in America 81-82; Olson & Shadle 85, 173).

Concentration of power to a few wealthy people however affected many parts of American society. Before trusts could be established in industries such as oil refineries, competition had led to widespread wavering of prices, most times at uncontrollable scales. In other industries such as meatpacking and shoemaking, manufacturers were trying to outdo one another and in the process, modern factories sprung up everywhere; each of them trying to produce goods faster and cheaper than the others. This caused tremendous price fluctuations and competition became overcrowded as industries continued to come up with new ways of cutting production expenses in order to offer their goods at cheaper prices and remain in the market. The workforce suffered most from this cost reduction because in spite of goods becoming cheaper and affordable, wages became very low subjecting many families to a miserable type of life. Working hours also increased to meet the new demand for production and many industrial workers could do 14 or more hours of work every day, at lower wages. Technology also helped many industries to run their machines faster than normal in such way that workers had to produce more goods but at a breakneck speed. Working conditions became miserable for the workers as the economy on the other hand experienced very fast growth at their expense (Horn & Schaffner 493-494; Rury 55, 60).

As people moved to the industrial towns in search of employment and better life, there was need for more urban housing for the new influx of workers. The rapid growth of industries brought along a rapid growth of population such that an urgent need for housing was inevitable. Besides, transportation means between the rural areas and the towns were still poor and workers had to live near the factories for easy commuting to work. The industrial revolution therefore brought about the multiunit urban worker housing which was enabled by the availability of iron and steel frames as well as mechanized industrial methods of house building. By the mid 19th century, overcrowded housing had begun to spread to America’s urban centers taking the shape of small poorly lit and ventilated units as well as small outhouses with built-in rear yards. Poor wages meant that the workers could hardly make ends meet and decent housing was out of reach for them. Filth-ridden tenements became the dwelling of the new middle class and with them came tuberculosis and several other airborne diseases. Water was sourced from dug-out wells that easily got contaminated also leading to disease (Horn & Schaffner 645).

To curb the outbreak of airborne and waterborne diseases, the federal government intervened by establishing the building tenement laws, that made it mandatory for builders to provide ventilation to rooms as well as provide interior baths. But the new regulations also meant higher development costs and developers were not ready to invest in housing that the workers could not afford to pay. As such the new developers focused on providing housing for the wealthier classes. This meant that even if diseases subsided in low-income dwellings, overcrowding remained a serious problem. But fortunately, by the early 20th century, technology had brought about advances in transportation that made wealthier families to move out of the congested urban centers, creating affordable accommodation for the workers. The movement of the wealthier classes led to the growth of suburbs as towns spread outwards to accommodate larger immigrant populations (Horn & Schaffner 645-646; Rury 9, 88).

In colonial America, education was not accessible or free for all members of society and remained a privilege of the elite social classes. As a result, only a very small percentage of the American population possessed any form of formal schooling. Education at the time was primarily for the enlightenment of the elite members of society and the workforce only benefited from apprenticeships offered to a few students. For children from poor families, apprenticeships became a highly treasured form of training because they provided not only particular skills in the area of training but also some basic skills such as writing and reading. For many of these children, this became the only means of improving their positions in society. But the industrial revolution came with a new demand for skilled workers who would operate the machines in the manufacturing sector. As the demand for manufactured goods increased, so also did the demand for skilled labor to produce these goods. As a result, apprenticeships began to decline, giving way to establishment of free public education. Machine-based work was also introduced and this allowed many disadvantaged workers to learn their skills on the job. The demand for skilled manual labor to operate machines in both manufacturing and agricultural sectors led to introduction of technical subjects in public schools. Legislation was passed that supported practical education and vocational training in the US. Lands were set aside for establishment of colleges that trained farmers, agricultural technicians and homemakers in the new technological advancements so as to establish a successful workforce. The first such institution was the Worcester Polytechnic Institute established in 1868 (Horn & Schaffner 160; Rury 67-68, 172).

Like manufacturing, agriculture and transportation, the communication sector in the US was not left behind during the Industrial Revolution and experienced tremendous transformation. Innovations made during the 19th century un-tethered communications from effective and vulnerable but quite limited modes of communication such as letter writing and newspapers through one of the greatest innovations of the time; the wire telegraph. The wire telegraph was introduced in 1835 by Samuel F.B. Moores followed by Alexander Graham Bell’s wire telephone later in 1875. In 1895, Guglielmo Marconi developed the wireless or radiotelegraph which accelerated information dissemination across the whole of America. The telephone has many times been described as the 19th century’s most significant invention. In the short period between 1852 and 1860, Americans had built telegraph lines spreading out for about 23,000 miles and connecting the growing metropolises coming up all over the land (The Industrial Revolution in America 1-4, 36-40).

But while communications became easier and faster with the Industrial Revolution, many Americans felt that the pace was also uncomfortable and overpowering. They felt that life was moving at a very fast pace accelerated by inventions such as telegraph and telephone. Information now moved so fast that business people for example felt tyrannized by information/knowledge and all the pressure that resulted from making proper decisions in the midst of intense competition. Telegraph messages made communication of both good and bad news faster often becoming a cause of so much anxiety. Steam power applied to printing industries led to massive newspaper and book publishing, a factor that helped to reinforce the rising need for literacy among the masses as well as to supply material for the rising masses’ political interests. But newspapers reported anything, eliminating the barriers of a once peaceful society and opening up America to the problems of the wider world (The Industrial Revolution in America 196-197).

The Industrial Revolution touched every member of society to some extent from peasant to noble, parents and children, as well as captains and artisans in the various industries. With manufacture of steel, construction of railroads increased connecting various parts of the nation and helping in transportation of raw materials to the factories as well as distribution of manufactured goods. People could also commute with eases between rural and urban centers and rural-urban migration took place at such large scales that the construction of new dwellings resulted in tremendous urban growth. Manufacturing created jobs for the masses and introduced them to a new way of life through cheap and affordable products. Vast pieces of land were cleared either for agriculture, construction of roads, rails, industries and housing as well as for other developments. Trees were felled down in the process and the flora and fauna were greatly interfered with. But all these developments took place at the expense of a once peaceful environment and although the Industrial Revolution paved way for the modern society, it has been blamed for massive destruction of the environment and pollution (Industrial Revolution in America 145-147, 147).


Since the industrial revolution, the face of America and other nations around the world has gradually been changing sometimes experiencing very drastic transformations. There has been enormous growth of urban and industrial centers that require vast and well-developed municipal services. Economic life has changed into an interdependent system whereby urban workers have ever since becoming dependant on the employers’ will unlike the life of the pre-industrial rural worker. Through the industrial revolution, America and the world had changed for the better but the price to pay for these changes has been great ever since.

Works Cited

Bagley, Katie. The Early American Industrial Revolution, 1793-1850. Mankato, MN: Captone Press, 2003.

Brezina, Corona. The Industrial Revolution in America: A Primary Source History of America’s Transformation Into Industrial Society. Buffalo, NY: Rosen Publishing Group, 2005.

Hillstorm, Kevin and Hillstrom Laurie C. Industrial Revolution in America: Automobiles, Mining and Petroleum, Textiles. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

Hillstorm, Kevin and Hillstrom Laurie C. The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications/Agriculture and Meatpacking/Overview/Comparison. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC- CLIO, 2007.

Olson, James S. & Shadle Robert L. Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.

Rury, John L. Education and Social Change: Themes in the History of American Schooling. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.

Van Horn, Carl E. and Schaffner Herbert A. Work in America: An Encyclopedia of History, Policy, and Society. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003.

Lysistrata: The First Feminist

Almost every joke contains a hint of truth. For this reason, comedy can be the perfect medium to effect social reform. Clearly, Aristophanes understood this concept quite well when he penned his farcical-humored play Lysistrata. Lysistrata focuses on the story of a young woman of the same name who attempted to better her community by stopping a war. Essentially, Lysistrata gathered the women of the town together and had them make a pact to withhold sex from the men of their community until the men agreed to stop fighting and find another means to end the Peloponnesian War. To accomplish this amazing accord, Lysistrata knew she first had to unionize all the women of Athens and then convince the women of Sparta to do the same. As an extra measure of protection against the male suitors, Lysistrata even persuaded the women to seal themselves into the Acropolis, which is also where the State Treasury is kept. Inside the Acropolis, the women held the treasury, as well as their own bodies, away from the men until peace was declared. Lysistrata turned the tables on the men of her time period, taking away their power in a comedic way in order to evoke social reform. Aristophanes, through his heroine, obviously wanted to make a statement about the role of women in society, and much like his heroine, used comedy to do so.

Throughout the play, Lysistrata refused to accept her status as a ‘mere’ woman. This is particularly true as the war continued to drag on. She realized the degree to which the people at home were suffering as a result of the lack of young men and the inattention given to other important aspects of life that the men were involved in. As she acted within her community, Lysistrata continued to insist that women were at least as smart and wise as the men are if not smarter. As a result, she insisted that they were equally as able to make important and necessary political decisions by cleverly finding a way of trivializing the men’s activities to match the activities of the women, which were commonly considered trivial. As she pointed out to others, even the means through which she acquired her education is similar to the way in which the men of the town gained their education. “I am but a woman; but I have good common sense; Nature has endowed me with discriminating judgment, which I have yet further developed, thanks to the wise teachings of my father and the elders of the city” (Aristophanes 279). Just like all the male members of her society, Lysistrata pointed out how she learned her lessons in the same traditional ways as the others did, by listening to the words of the older men. In my opinion, there is very little difference between the way in which she learned her lessons and the way in which the boys of Athens learned their lessons. Her arguments that she is equal to the men are therefore very convincing even though she neglects to refer to the content of the lessons learned. This only becomes more convincing as Lysistrata listed out the various ways in which she is qualified to make her stance as she argued with the men toward the end of the play. Far from what I would expect of a comedy, Lysistrata’s reasoning seemed logical, coherent, ordered and inarguable.

In addition to the strength shown by Lysistrata herself, the women who joined her also demonstrated a great deal of strength as a unified force. It’s true that several of the women were caught sneaking out of the Acropolis to return home during the play but this was used primarily as a device intended to increase the comic element. My personal favorite is the woman who was caught hiding a helmet under her clothing in order to pretend that she was pregnant and therefore did not qualify for the sequestering of the other women. However, the women as a group were able to produce a solid front against the men who attempted to enter the temple, both literally and figuratively. In their attempt to control the politics of the war and bring it to a speedy end, the women appropriated the men’s traditional role as the leaders of society and forced the men into the subservient role as they were forced to realize their reliance on the women for their own well-being and future happiness. This role reversal is also considered a strong element of comedy. After all, the men had failed on several occasions to bring the war to a close themselves. The women together, presented in the traditional form of the chorus, presented very logical and reasonable arguments to the citizens, who must be the older members of society as the men are fighting, the women are speaking and the only ones left would be the children, who would not normally be considered in such arguments. These women pointed out how the female gender was once considered a very important and idealized element of society. As children they were treated as important and of value as their virtue and purity were jealously guarded as a family treasure. They arrived at the very reasonable conclusion that their advice is necessary for the future of the community. “I have useful counsel to give our city, which deserves it well at my hands for the brilliant distinctions it has lavished on my girlhood … So surely I am bound to give my best advice to Athens. What matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you, you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our forefathers, as it was called, the treasure amassed in the days of the Persian Wars” (Aristophanes 258). Through their ability to reason with the old men of Athens to the point where they agreed with the women, the female chorus is able to prove their own strength. Aristophanes does this brilliantly as he allowed the women to adopt the same form of expression typically used by the men as they argued in the senate, thus proving that they were equal to the highest office in the civilized world at the time even while he introduces the comic elements of role reversal and non-linear reasoning – the treasured girl was not treasured for her intelligence, but this is the impression given by the grown women.

The use of the traditional woman’s activity of weaving as a metaphor for the female ability to think logically, rationally and reasonably is brilliant. Aristophanes illustrated that women were better than men at sorting out the various messes of society because they had much more practice at it in their usual activity of weaving, which also required constant effort. As the women unraveled tangled skeins of yarn, they were capable of tracing the intricate warp and weave of society. In addition, as they employed varying shades of colors, they were able to create intricate patterns and designs, thus they were able to see the intricate patterns and designs of society and how to bring them out to their best effect. It is wonderful the way that Lysistrata combined the activity of weaving with the activity of governing in a point by point comparison. “First we wash the yarn to separate the grease and filth; do the same with all bad citizens, sort them out and drive them forth with rods – they’re the refuse of the city. Then for all such as come crowding up in search of employments and offices, we must card them thoroughly; then, to bring them all to the same standard, pitch them pell-mell into the same basket, resident aliens or no, allies, debtors to the State, all mixed up together. Then as for our Colonies, you must think of them as so many isolated hanks; find the ends of the separate threads, draw them to a centre here, wind them into one, make one great hank of the lot, out of which the public can weave itself a good, stout tunic” (Aristophanes 256). By presenting the case in this way, Lysistrata made the similarities between weaving and governing undeniable.

Considering the play as a literary text rather than as a farce, it seems clear that Aristophanes was trying to educate his contemporaries regarding his opinion on the proper role of women in society. While the women might have been commonly passed off as unimportant or incidental elements of the community in ancient Greece, Aristophanes attempted to demonstrate through his resilient main character Lysistrata, as well as the play’s insightful female chorus, that women were clearly much more important and influential to society than for which they were given credit. Women not only served an important recreational function, according to Aristophanes, but could actually affect politics in a relevant way. Taking a step further, it is also clear that Aristophanes espoused women in politics, an idea that was very radical for his time period, showing how contemplative female nature can often prevail over male aggression. While the sex elements of the play might have been intended for comedic purposes to hook his audience, Aristophanes was obviously trying to spoon feed them a healthy dose of social reform.

Works Cited

Aristophanes. “Lysistrata.” The Eleven Comedies. Vol. 1. Charleston, S.C.: BiblioBazaar, 2005.

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