Free Study Guide - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott|
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FREE STUDY GUIDE: IVANHOE BY SIR WALTER SCOTT
When Ivanhoe returns in disguise, first as the Palmer and then as the Disinherited Knight, Cedric does not recognize or acknowledge his son. When his identity is revealed, Cedric never openly expresses regret or concern that he has disinherited Ivanhoe for no other reason than that his son has threatened his ability to restore a Saxon to the throne. When Ivanhoe emerges as victor in the games at Ashby and raises his visor to crown Rowena Queen of the Tournament, Cedric recognizes him; out of pride, however, he refuses to acknowledge him.
Cedric’s pride is his worst quality. Saxon pride compels him to find some kind of answer to the Norman conquest of the country he loves. In this quest, he virtually forgets his own son and everyone around him. Though in reality he has a kind heart, Cedric is single-mindedly focused on his goal of raising a Saxon line to the throne. He will not tolerate anyone, even his son, standing in his way. Though he hates the Normans, when he hosts them in his home, his pride makes him offer them his finest foods and wines. Although he constantly calls for Saxon strength as an answer to the Norman rule of England, when the Saxon resistance needs a leader, he declines. He is so proud and so stubborn, it is hard for him to see that even he contributes to the poor leadership skills of the Saxons, a fact which inevitably bears on the fact that they continued to be ruled by the Normans
Cedric is not a totally static character. He undergoes a gradual transformation,
as seen when he drinks a toast to Richard’s health. He realizes that just
as there are many kinds of leaders, there are many kinds of Normans. He
decides to treat each person on an individual basis, and in the end pledges
his loyalty to Richard, who has proved himself a triumphant and effective
king and a merciful leader. Most importantly, Cedric reconciles with his
son in the end and blesses his marriage to Rowena.
As Cedric’s ward, Rowena is at his mercy in matters of marriage. Though
Cedric wants her to marry Athelstane and though she is sought by De Bracy,
she stands firm in her love for Ivanhoe. Rowena is beautiful both physically
and morally; she is depicted as a truly noble heroine in all ways. She
is as chaste and merciful. Though De Bracy has attempted to molest her,
she resists his advances and says she will die before she succumbs to
him. She then forgives him in a true Christian spirit. Although she realizes
that Rebecca is also in love with Ivanhoe, she kindly and discreetly protects
the other girl’s feelings, expressing her graciousness when the two meet
at the end of the novel. She is always patient with Cedric, never disrespectful,
even when he tries to make her marry Athelstane. She understands his ambition
but is not willing to sacrifice herself to fulfill it. In all ways, Rowena
seems to be the perfect match for the noble Ivanhoe.
A lovely young Jewess, Rebecca is as indifferent to money as her father is attracted to it. She returns the money Ivanhoe pays for the use of a horse and armor and even adds a generous tip for Gurth. Rebecca is so beautiful that she attracts all the men who see her; even the faithful Ivanhoe recognizes her charm. So does the Templar Knight, Bois-Guilbert, who takes Rebecca prisoner and harbors wicked desires to defile her. Rebecca, however, stands firm against him and is even willing to face death rather than succumb to his advances. Her firmness of resolve only strengthens Bois-Guilbert’s admiration for her.
Rebecca is known for her healing powers. When Ivanhoe is wounded, she
volunteers to care for him and nurse him back to health. In the process,
she realizes that she loves this noble man, but accepts that since she
is a Jew, her love will not be satisfied. Ivanhoe, however, greatly respects
Rebecca and comes to her aid at the end of the novel. When she is accused
of witchcraft and is ready to be burned at the stake, Ivanhoe fights for
her, defeats Bois-Gilbert, and wins Rebecca’s freedom. Rebecca expresses
her gratitude by calling upon Rowena; she is afraid of facing Ivanhoe
and displaying her true emotions.
Isaac is Rebecca’s father and a wealthy moneylender. In the portrait of him, there are strong resemblances to Shakespeare’s character of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Both of them love money and resist parting from it. Ironically, they both loan money to people who instinctively hate them, but they both become more wealthy because of it. It is only Isaac’s love for his daughter Rebecca that would cause him to part with his money. When he thinks he has lost Rebecca, he is a broken man and offers all his wealth to whomever can rescue her.
Isaac is hated for being both a Jew and a moneylender. During the Middle Ages, there is a strong prejudice against all Jewish people. The Jewish moneylenders are especially hated, for they are the only people who can charge interest on loans, for Christians are prohibited from it. Isaac, like most of the Jewish moneylenders, has considerable business acumen and holds power over those he lends money to, including some of the important Norman knights. As a result, he is hated and ostracized.
Isaac can be grateful. When Ivanhoe, disguised as the Palmer, tells the Jew
about the plot against him, he repays the Palmer’s kindness by arranging
the loan of a horse and armor to use during the tournament. This trait,
along with his love for Rebecca and his cruel treatment at the hands of
Saxons and Normans alike, make Isaac a sympathetic character.
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