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Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

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FREE LITERARY CRITICISM / ANALYSIS: IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT

CHAPTER 22

Summary

Isaac of York has been thrown into a dark dungeon in Torquilstone Castle. Front-de-Boeuf demands a ransom of a thousand silver pounds, to which Isaac protests. The Normans threaten him with physical torture, so Isaac requests that his daughter Rebecca be sent with an escort to York to get the money. He is deeply upset when he learns that she has been given to Bois-Guilbert as his own personal captive. Isaac is willing to give up whatever wealth he possesses if only he can get Rebecca back. As his captors begin preparations for torture, the sound of a bugle is heard outside the castle, and Isaac is saved for the moment.

Notes

The totally careless and indifferent attitude to cruelty and physical torture, as seen in the Norman knights, is an authentic side of medieval life in the Middle Ages. The Norman greed for money and their contempt for the Jews further show their total immorality. Isaac, who has previously been depicted as a mercenary who loves his money above everything, is shown to be a sensitive and sensible man. He is willing to give up all his wealth in order to get his daughter back. Rebecca, the image of his dead wife, is Isaac’s last remaining comfort, and she matters to him more than anything.



CHAPTER 23

Summary

Elsewhere in Front-de-Boeuf’s castle, De Bracy tries his best to persuade Rowena to marry him. He threatens that if she does not accept him, the lives of Ivanhoe and Cedric will be forfeited. In the conversation, she learns that Ivanhoe is a prisoner in the same castle and breaks down. The bugle call interrupts this scene as well.

Notes

Despite De Bracy’s threatening attitude, there is still a tiny bit of honor left in him. He would rather Rowena accept him of her own accord than be forced to do so. He realizes she is noble by blood and possesses very high principles. Her character impresses De Bracy so that even he, as selfish and unprincipled as he is, is greatly moved. The sound of the bugle is a reprieve for both Isaac and Rowena. It also comes in time to save Front-de-Boeuf and De Bracy from yielding to their baser natures.


CHAPTER 24

Summary

Rebecca meets the old hag, Urfried, in the little tower where she is imprisoned. Urfried makes the most frightening forecast for Rebecca, recounting her own terrible fate at the hands of Front-de-Boeuf’s father. Urfried, however, had submitted to the elder Front-de-Bouef’s molestation, accepting the subsequent shame and dishonor. The brave Rebecca looks around for some escape, but finds none. Musing over her fate, she hears footsteps on the stairs. A tall man stands at the door. She offers her jewelry to the man who takes off his cap and reveals himself as Bois-Guilbert. He makes advances at her, which she refuses. Rebecca threatens to kill herself. She would rather die than be dishonored as the old woman Urfried has been. The trumpet call also saves Rebecca, for it summons Bois-Guilbert, who promises to visit her again.

Notes

Rebecca’s plight is parallel to that of Rowena. She, too, is being courted by a man she dislikes, and is also determined to resist his advances. She threatens to commit suicide before submitted to an unwanted suitor. The difference is that Bois-Guilbert has no intention of marrying Rebecca, for she is a Jew, while de Bracy would give anything to marry Rowena. Ironically, both Rebecca and Rowena are attracted to Ivanhoe and are more concerned with his safety than their own escapes.

Urfried is an interesting comparison and contrast to both young women. Although she is now an old hag, she was once courted by a man she disliked. She, however, did not possess the determination of Rowena and Rebecca. She submitted to the man’s abuses and has spent her life in shame and dishonor.

Scott repeatedly reminds his readers of the terrible and brutal nature of the Normans. Not only do they subjugate the helpless Saxons and Jews and take their land and money, but also use them in the most immoral ways possible. In these instances, they threaten and cajole the women who fortunately are both noble heroines that are capable of resistance.

 

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