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Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

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CHAPTERS 25 - 27


The occupants of Torquilstone receive a letter signed by Gurth and Wamba, but sent by the mysterious Black Knight and Locksley; the letter demands the release of the prisoners. Front-de-Boeuf responds to the letter by asking that a priest be sent to hear the confessions of the prisoners before they are put to death. Wamba, dressed in Friar’s robes, enters the castle “to hear the confessions of the condemned”. When he reaches the place where Cedric and the others are imprisoned, he and Cedric exchange their clothes and Cedric is able to leave the dungeon undetected.

Thinking Cedric to be the priest, Front-de-Boeuf gives him a message for Philip Malvoisin. Cedric rejects Front de Boeuf’s payment and joins the party outside. Subsequently, Wamba’s disguise and Cedric’s escape are discovered. It now seems that a clash is inevitable between the Normans inside and the besiegers outside, now joined by Cedric.


Though the demand to release the prisoners is written by King Richard, Wamba and Gurth sign it, as if to mock the Normans. The two are servants, supposedly fools, and yet they dare to write an ultimatum to John and his followers. As such, the letter is scorned and rejected, just as planned by Richard, Locksley, and the others. It is part of their plan to bring down the offending Normans. The jolly Friar Tuck is the one who has thought of this ironic joke; he eagerly anticipates the mockery it will provoke from the men inside the castle.

Wamba’s use of the phrase “Pax Vobiscum” is full of irony. Its offer of peace is just the contrary of what is to happen when the battle commences. To prove authenticity and gain admission to the castle as a priest about to hear confession, Wamba repeatedly utters this and other Latin phrases, which the dull Normans do not understand. Wamba instructs Cedric to use such phrases as often as possible in leaving the palace; they will aid in his disguise and help to safeguard him against violence. Wamba’s calculated behavior and his plan of changing places with Cedric demonstrate his intelligence and loyalty to the cause of bringing down John and his men.

The contrasting characters of both the Normans and the Saxons emerge clearly in these chapters. Prince John and his knights are shown to be the basest type of human beings, interested only in their own well-being and pleasure. They plan to kill the prisoners for no good reason at all. By contrast, the Saxons, aided by the good King Richard, prove their nobility and determination to make right prevail.

Cedric meets Urfried, who is revealed as Ulrica, the daughter of one of Cedric’s good friends. Her confession to Cedric of the dishonor that has befallen her at the hands of the elder Front-de-Bouef horrifies him and proves the baseness of Norman behavior.



Using flashback, Scott supplies the necessary information to link various events that have happened. Ivanhoe’s actual whereabouts since being injured at the tournament have never been explicitly stated. But here it is revealed that Rebecca took the invalid Ivanhoe on as a charge, promising to use her powers of healing. It is made clear that the sick man she and her father were accompanying when they were kidnapped is Ivanhoe.


Scott’s use of flashback is meant to supply missing links between chapters. In the flashback, he also uses authorial intrusion a second time. The effect is that of a stage play where an event involving one set of characters is linked through conversation with a similar event happening to a different set of characters. It is a bit confusing, since the reader is skipped back in time and caught up on events that have led to the present.



As the besiegers attack the Castle, Rebecca stands at the window to relate to Ivanhoe the exact sequence of events. He soon falls asleep. Rebecca, left to her own thoughts, tries to sort out her feelings for him. She realizes that she is beginning to love him.


Isaac allows his daughter to treat Ivanhoe for two reasons. He does not want Rebecca to pass on her knowledge of healing to someone else; he also thinks this kindness may be returned when Richard comes back to power. As she heals Ivanhoe, Rebecca falls in love with him; her love is sure to be frustrated since she is a Jew.

The conversation between Rebecca and Ivanhoe is significant. When Ivanhoe, as the voice of the author himself, describes the meaning of chivalry and honor to her, Rebecca views the knightly code only as an excuse for rationalizing bloodshed and violence; she thinks the “nobility” of knighthood is meaningless.


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