Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott|
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FREE LITERARY CRITICISM / ANALYSIS: IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT
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.
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.
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.
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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. 09 May 2017