Ivanhoe By Sir Walter Scott Summary and Analysis Chapters 18-21

Summary

When Cedric is satisfied that Ivanhoe is in good hands, he and his party start home. Gurth is recognized by Oswald and bound as a captive for having attended Ivanhoe. During the ride he slips his bonds and escapes, renouncing his service to Cedric. The superstitious Saxons are frightened by the howling of Fangs, sure that it is a sign of impending evil.

As they journey through the wood, they encounter Isaac and Rebecca with a sick man on a horse-drawn litter. Rebecca implores Rowena for protection and the request is granted.

In the assumed character of yeoman outlaws, De Bracy and his band swoop down upon the travelers and take them all prisoners except Wamba, who escapes. Wamba meets Locksley, who offers to help them. Locksley gathers his band and sends them on various errands. He, Wamba, and Gurth, whom Wamba finds in the woods, go to the chapel, where they find the Friar and the Black Knight in hilarious camaraderie. Both pledge assistance to the prisoners, who have been taken to Torquilstone, the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, and have been confined in different rooms in the building.

Analysis

Cedric, desiring to rebuild a Saxon empire through the lineage of Rowena and Athelstane, chooses to overlook the total unfitness of Athelstane for the position of ruler. Athelstane's main interest is food and drink.

By including the incident of the dog's howling, Scott is portraying the superstitious nature of many Saxons of that time.

Locksley's eagerness to aid Wamba and Gurth may be motivated as much by a desire to punish those who dare to impersonate his band as by concern for the prisoners. As he says, "our honour is concerned to punish them, and we will find a means to do so."

Knighthood, whose very foundations were honor, has a poor example in Brian de Bois-Guilbert. De Bracy shows his knowledge of this lack as the Templar replies to De Bracy's distrust in regard to Rowena, "Psha, what hast thou to fear? Thou knowest the vows of our order." "Right well," says De Bracy, "and also how well they are kept."

Scott, who is at his best with the lower classes, makes Wamba a "wise fool." For example, he says, "I have heard men talk of the blessings of freedom, but I wish any wise man would teach me what use to make of it now that I have it." Gurth, too, finds freedom burdensome when his master is taken captive. He says, more sagaciously than usual, in answer to Wamba's reference to Gurth's having declared he will never return to Cedric's service, "That was but while he was fortunate."

Glossary

rere-supper late night meal after the regular meal

Baldric belt worn over the shoulder to support a sword or bugle

Vizard mask or visor

yeoman in this case freeborn men, or freedmen

De profundis clamavi. Out of the depths have I called.

nocturnal potations night of drinking

transmew change

peccadillo slight offenses; petty faults

refectories dining halls in a monastery or convent

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