Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott|
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FREE ONLINE PLOT SUMMARY: IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT
These chapters illustrate the dangers of being a monarch who has usurped his power. Prince John, who has come to rule through force, has tried hard to encourage the abductors to keep Richard in prison; he hates his brother and wants to insure that he will not return to again become kind. John, as Richard’s self-appointed successor, has performed many unjust and cruel acts, such as seizing Saxon lands, celebrating his luxurious life in the face of the common people’s suffering, and forcing women to give their hands in marriage. He is constantly afraid of the consequences of his immoral behavior and is petrified when he suspects his brother is on the verge of returning to England. If Richard returns and sees how John has connived and schemed against him and the people of England, the consequences will be dire.
These chapters also reveal the parasitic nature of Fitzurse. He and some of the other Norman knights associate with John only for the potential power they can gain from him. Fitzurse benefits from John’s ruling status, and when support for John begins to wane, he tries to rally support for him with a level head. It is obvious that Fitzurse is smarter and more perceptive than John. He is also seen to be very creative as he tries to re-enlist John’s supporters with all manner of persuasion and bribery. His support of John, however, is only an act of selfish self-preservation.
Robin of Locksley presents an excellent contrast to the often rude and gluttonous knights, both Saxon and Norman. He also provides a refreshing change of tone. At meals and celebrations, the knights can be very discourteous and illmannered, but Robin is always a truly noble character. He may be an outlaw, but his goal is always to help the less fortunate. He is also honorable in combat and loyal to King Richard. Although he is not called Robin Hood, the reader quickly recognizes him.
These chapters also foreshadow that changes are forthcoming in the kingdom.
Prince John receives a message that indicates that his brother has escaped
his abductors and will return to power. Cedric, in drinking to the health
of Richard, symbolizes the slow but steady acceptance by the Saxons of
their Norman rulers. It is beginning to seem inevitable that the Normans
will continue to be in power. Cedric, along with many others, realizes
that there are many kinds of rulers, just as there are many kinds of Normans.
He begins to evaluate people by their individual differences and knows
that Richard is a much better person than his corrupt brother. This early
sign of a changing heart is crucial to the plot of the story.
This chapter introduces Friar Tuck, the jolly priest who is one of Robin
Hood’s men. Earlier in the novel, King Richard proved his valor at Ashby
disguised as the Black Knight. After the victory, he quickly disappeared
before his identity was questioned. In this scene, he is traveling in
the forest when he meets the Clerk of Copmanhurst, who is actually Friar
Tuck. The two trust one another; they eat and drink in great companionship.
The king and the fat priest get on so well that after supper they decide
to sing together. Each chooses a song that makes fun of the other; the
priest pokes fun at Crusaders and Richard mocks the priest.
Though Scott many times exposes the evils of the medieval Christian Church, he does not intend Friar Tuck to be symbolic of such corruption. Scott has acquired the story of the fat and jolly priest from legend and has used it in his novel for plot purposes rather for social commentary. In this chapter, Friar Tuck befriends King Richard, whom he meets in the forest. The reader also learns that King Richard was the Black Knight who came to Ivanhoe’s aid during the tournament.
These chapters give another picture of life in the Middle Ages. The amiable fellowship between the king and the priest does not prevent them from making gentle fun of each other. The ballads they sing reveal the weakness of the king in neglecting his kingdom and the worldliness and easy life of a priest who should be more ascetic.
These chapters also develop King Richard in more detail. He is a good man
who does not abuse or over-estimate his power. Like Friar Tuck, he is
also a good-natured man who does not take himself too seriously.
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. 09 May 2017