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Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

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On his way to bed, the Palmer is asked to accompany Cedric’s servants to the kitchen for more drink and gossip. A message is sent to him by Lady Rowena, demanding his presence. She wants more news of Ivanhoe since she heard the Palmer mention Ivanhoe’s courageous exploits. All that the Palmer tells her is that Ivanhoe, having fought bravely, is on his way home.

Before going to bed, the Palmer warns Isaac that he has overheard Bois-Guilbert ordering his Moslem slaves to follow Isaac and rob him. Isaac is grateful to the Palmer, and before he escapes, rewards the Palmer with a favor. He sends a letter to his Jewish kinsman asking him to give the Palmer a horse and armor so that he can participate in the Ashby tournament.


Scott gives the reader a detailed account of the persecution of the Jews. Normans, Saxons, Danes, and Britons hated the Jews and instituted cruel laws and high taxes against them. The Britons needed money to maintain a high standard of living, but hated and resented the Jewish businessmen who could lend them money. Despite the persecution they felt, the Jews prospered and accumulated great sums of money.

Despite the kindness that he shows, Ivanhoe, still disguised as the Palmer, is reluctant to travel with Isaac beyond a certain point; but he does him a great favor by warning him of the planned attack on him by the Normans. Isaac is grateful and arranges for the Palmer to have a horse and armor so that he can participate in the upcoming tournament. Isaac is also shrewd enough to realize that the Palmer is not who he pretends to be.

In this chapter, Scott begins to hint at the true identity of the Palmer. His talk with Rowena, his apparent influence over Gurth, and his intelligence clearly indicate he is an important person and suggest that he is really Ivanhoe.



These chapters are largely descriptive and do little to advance the plot of the story. The busy arena where the knights will display their skill is brilliantly described. The challengers, Bois-Guilbert, Front-de-Boeuf, Grantmesnil, Malvoisin, and Ralph de Vipoint, are introduced and described as seasoned Norman knights. Isaac’s daughter Rebecca is also introduced.

A stranger, beautifully attired in steel and gold armor, arrives at the arena, challenges Bois-Guilbert, and emerges victorious; Bois-Guilbert feels disgraced. The mysterious knight also wins on the second day of the tournament and crowns Rowena as the Queen of Love and Beauty.


At the tournament, the arena, the colorful costumes, and the horses are all described in great detail. There is also a sense of excited expectancy amongst the crowd, mostly common people. Because of the social rift between the Saxons and the Normans and the economic chaos in the country, the tournament is a welcome relief to the everyday tension they feel. During the tournament, the people will be able to forget the things they have lost -- their stolen property and spoiled heritage. For two days, they can feast their eyes on the dress and appearance of the rich. They can escape their lives and be caught up in the excitement of combat.

Scott displays his knowledge of medieval tournaments as he describes the heraldry, costumes, and coats-of-arms of the combatants; he also explains the detailed rules and complicated politics of this tournament. Since King Richard is in captivity, Prince John tries to assert his authority in many ways, usually just to make the Saxons angry. He even proposes that Rebecca, the beautiful daughter of Isaac the Jew, be crowned the tournament Queen of Love and Beauty. Given both the Norman and Saxon dislike for Jews, it seems fairly obvious this request is done to agitate. He is dissuaded from following through on his suggestion by his shrewd adviser. Waldemar Fitzurse warns Prince John not to enrage the Norman and the Saxon nobility and the Christians by choosing a Jewess.

It is important to notice that Rebecca and her father are richly dressed at the tournament, in contrast to Isaac’s miserable earlier appearance and claims of poverty. At Ashby, Isaac feels safe, for he enjoys the protection of those who need to borrow money from him. Even Prince John is in the process of negotiating a large loan with him.

Athelstane, the man whom Cedric wants Rowena to marry, is introduced and described in a very poor light. Instead of standing up for the Saxons, whom he represents, he appears both apathetic and conquered. In contrast, Ivanhoe presents himself as the Disinherited Knight (“Desdichado”) and wins the tournament. He then crowns Rowena as the Queen of the tournament.


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