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Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

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CHAPTERS 30 - 31


The battle rages on, with both parties fighting intensely. Front-de-Boeuf is seriously wounded in the battle. As he lies dying, the old hag Urfried accuses him of all kinds of sins, the worst being the murder of his own father. Hungry for revenge for wrongs done to her by his family, she sets fire to the castle. Both she and Front-de-Boeuf die in the flames. The Black Knight saves Ivanhoe and captures De Bracy. Everyone manages to escape to freedom except Rebecca, who is carried away by Bois-Guilbert, the Knight Templar who wants to defile her. In attempting to stop Bois-Guilbert, Athelstane is hit on the head and falls down, apparently dead.


These chapters show that divisions exist within both the Saxon party and the Normans. As both groups falter from obvious lack of unity, the dramatic tension of the plot is heightened. It is obvious that the frail bond between the defenders of the castle is breaking up. Front-de-Boeuf wants to see his comrades, Bois-Guilbert and De Bracy, die in the fire with him; he is a jealous man with no concern whatsoever for their mutual cause. His dying thoughts reflect the pettiness of his life.

Bois-Guilbert and De Bracy are not in the least concerned about their wounded companionís fate. They know he is dying, but stand aside calmly to discuss what is to happen to Prince John if they fail in their attempts to overcome the resistors outside the palace gates.

There is also some serious division among the Saxon resistance outside. No one seems to want to assume the leadership role, implying that the lack of purposeful leaders among the Saxons could be the reason they have been and will continue to be dominated by the Normans. Cedric, even though he is a staunch opponent of the Normans, refuses to lead the Saxon resistance.

Urfried sings a death song when she is dying in the burning palace with Front-de-Bouef. It is a dramatic song that heightens the intensity of the scene and the redemption of her act. She sacrifices her own life for a small bit of vengeance on the son of the man who has defiled her and the name of the family that has done so much wrong. Superstition and legend, which have already been revealed as an important part of medieval daily life, are here skillfully woven into the action to achieve a wonderfully melodramatic atmosphere.



Early next morning the freed prisoners and their rescuers, the outlaws, meet in the forest. Robin of Locksley places Cedric on his left and the Black Knight on his right. The booty plundered from the castle is shared equally. Cedric refuses his share, saying that Rowena and he are grateful to Locksley for his help. He offers his share to the Black Knight, who also refuses to take any of the plunder. In gratitude to him for his help, Cedric frees his slave Gurth.

De Bracy, now a prisoner, attempts to speak to Rowena but is insulted by Cedric. Athelstaneís body is carried in on a stretcher. Then Friar Tuck arrives, leading Isaac by a rope that is tied around his neck. He and the Black Knight engage in a friendly fight over Isaac. The Black Knight wins, and Isaac is set free. Two other men bring in another prisoner, the Prior of Jorvaulx.


This scene is largely narrative and is used to highlight certain important characters and reinforce the directions the plot is taking. Most evident is the reinforcement of King Richardís noble qualities. He refuses his share of the plunder, as well as that offered by Cedric. He has proven his ability in combat, and easily overcomes Friar Tuck to win the prisoner Isaac for himself. He then quickly sets Isaac free. He also frees the prisoner De Bracy, for he judges this knight to be a brave soldier, with none of the petty qualities of Front-de-Boeuf or de Bois-Guilbert.

CHAPTERS 33 - 34


Prior Aymer is frightened when he is brought in to the camp, but is mostly disturbed because his beautiful, expensive clothes are ruined. Isaac is relieved to learn Rebecca is alive and listens carefully when the Prior offers, for an appropriate price, to use his friendship with the Knight Templar to free Rebecca. The Black Knight is pleasantly surprised at the decency with which the outlaws behave.

At a banquet hall in the castle of York to which Prince John has invited his nobles, rumors are afoot that Torquilstone Castle has been attacked and captured. Word has it that Front-de-Boeuf and Bois-Guilbert, and perhaps De Bracy too, are dead. John is disturbed but listens to Fitzurse, who reassures him that his unscrupulous reign is invincible.

De Bracy dramatically enters the banquet and announces that Richard is in England, Bois-Guilbert has fled with the Jewish girl, and Front-de-Bouef is dead. John is frightened at the news and begins to drink heavily. In his drunken stupor, he realizes that many of his knights are deserting him. He quickly appoints De Bracy High Marshal to secure his loyalty. De Bracy, however, no longer trusts or believes in John. John, in turn, sets spies on De Bracy.


These chapters reveal the frail strands of Johnís hold on the English throne. When De Bracy enters the banquet with his amazing news about Richard, Front-de-Bouef, and Bois-Guilbert, the fearful Prince John is shown at his worst. Being a man of little honor, low character, and a great affinity for alcohol, he cannot control his own knights. When they realize that Richard is back in England, they quickly begin to desert John. Only Fitzurse remains loyal, but his devotion stems from an effort to save himself

Spying, intrigue and counter-intrigue have always been facts of political life, even in medieval England. Power seems to be the only force that commands loyalty, and if one is losing power, he is destined to lose followers as well. Johnís attempt to grant high power to De Bracy is a pathetic grasp at the quickly dissipating loyalty he still has. Not trusting De Bracy, however, John sets his spies upon him.


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