IVANHOE, I'vAn'h6. 'Ivanhoe,' written by Sir Walter Scott and published anonymously in 1820, is a story of love and adventure in the days of chivalry. Following his usual practice in the historical novels of interweaving a ficti tious romance with actual events, and coloring the whole with the manners of the time, Scott has in
The period which Scott has chosen is the late 12th century, when the two elements of English society have not united in a common national life. The Saxons, dispossessed of their old inheritance but still constituting the sturdy body of the English people, are set against the Norman conquerors, brilliant feudal lords, endowed with all the knightly graces but haughty and tyrannical Of each of the two con trasting groups Scott has given a memorable picture. The scene changes from the patriar chal home of Cedric the Saxon, with its rough hospitality and home-spun comforts, in which master and serf live on terms of kindly famili arity, to the Norman castle, with its courtly life of hall and bower and the dark mysteries of its gloomy dungeons, then again to the leafy for est, where Robin Hood and his merry men lead the lawless but honorable life of the greenwood. The chief historical event involved in the story is the return of the heroic Richard I to Eng land. By seizing the throne from his unpop ular brother John, Richard restores justice to the realm and wins the loyalty even of his Saxon subjects.
The fiction of which Ivanhoe is the hero is less interesting than the historical setting and atmosphere which envelope it. The Knight, Ivanhoe, son of Cedric, has been disinherited by his father because of his love for the noble Saxon heiress Rowena, whom Cedric hopes to marry to Athelstane, a descendant of Edward the Confessor, thereby uniting the Saxon fac tions and restoring the ancient monarchy. At the opening of the story Ivanhoe has returned to England from Palestine, where he has won the favor of Richard, disguised as a palmer. Furnished with a suit of armor by the much persecuted Jew. Isaac of York, he appears at
the tournament at Ashby, where, after being wounded and forced to reveal himself, he is crowned victor by Rowena. On their return from the tournament, the whole party of Cedric is captured and imprisoned in the castle of Tor quilstone by a band of Norman nobles led by De Bracy, who attempts to force Rowena to marry him by threatening the life of Ivanhoe. At the same time the Templar, Brian de Bois Guilbert, seizes Rebecca, daughter of Isaac, and tries in vain to make her his mistress. Meanwhile the castle is attacked by Robin Hood, who, under the name of Locksley, has won the prize for archery at the tournament. Rebecca, who loves Ivanhoe and is nursing him to health by her oriental arts, describes to him from a window the progress of the siege. At length the castle is set on fire by Ulrica, a half crazed Saxon hag, seeking vengeance on the Normans. The Templar flees' with Rebecca to the Preceptory of Templestowe. The Jewess is there condemned to death for sorcery and De Bois Guilbert is commanded to appear in the lists against her. He offers to save her if she will accept him, but she refuses and is about to be burned at the stake when suddenly Ivan hoe, still weak from his wounds, appears dra matically as her champion. De Guilbert falls dead at the first encounter and Rebecca is re leased. MeanwhileJohn has received word that Richard is in England. The king had in fact been present at the tournament and per formed remarkable deeds of valor disguised as The Black Sluggard. Barely escaping by the intervention of the outlaws from a plot of John's to assassinate him, he now reveals him self, resumes his authority, and punishes the traitorous adherents of Prince John. Cedric, whose hope of restoring the Saxon dynasty has fallen with the return of the popular Richard at last consents to the marriage of Ivanhoe and Rowena.
The story is rich in incident and full of stir ring adventure. If the hero and the heroine are somewhat insipid, the other figures, whom Scott sees chiefly in their historical and typical as pects, are vividly portrayed and thoroughly interesting.
Consult Hutton, R. H., 'Sir Walter Scott' ((English Men of Letters Series') • Lockhart's 'Life of
Young, C. A.,