Study Help Essay Questions


1. Give the time, setting, and chief characters of Ivanhoe.

2. Comment on how Ivanhoe and the other Scott novels have influenced modern literature in regard to (a) use of a historical background, (b) rapid action and adventure, (c) feats of skill and strength, (d) beauty in distress, and (e) display of moral as well as physical courage.

    3. List examples of the following devices: (a) kidnaping, (b) disguise, (c) reference to witchcraft or the supernatural, and (d) banishment.

4. Comment on Scott's indebtedness to Shakespeare and Chaucer in the writing of Ivanhoe.

5. Comment on Scott's style in regard to (a) word choice, (b) length of sentences and type of punctuation, (c) vividness of detail, and (d) readability.

6. An anachronism is something out of its historical order, such as the striking of the clock in Julius Caesar. List several anachronisms from Ivanhoe.

7. Are Scott's characters like real people or are they in general stereotyped? Are there any exceptions? If so, comment on them.

8. The plot of Ivanhoe is loose and rambling but achieves unity at the end. Compare and contrast it with that of a novel like A Tale of Two Cities, in which every happening falls into place like a piece of jigsaw puzzle.

9. Mention one or more instances in which knowledge of a foreign language makes an immense difference in the outcome of certain events. (Chapter 5 and others)

10. Why is the character of Ulrica introduced? Does she add to the story or detract from it? Why? (Chapters 24-28)

11. The character of Rebecca, is drawn from that of a real person. List her characteristics that are favorable in the eyes of the reader. Is she more lifelike than most of the other characters?

12. Many readers would prefer a different ending to Ivanhoe. In your opinion, would this have improved the book? Defend your answer. (Chapters 40-44)

13. In what ways did chivalry seek to glorify the Anglo-Saxon virtues still valued today? List them.

14. Give your evaluation of the archery contest as contrasted with the tournament. Does it add to or detract from the story? (Chapter 13)

15. Novels have heroes, heroines, and villains. Ivanhoe has more than one of each. Who are they? What are their characteristics as individuals?

16. According to history, Richard I forgave his brother John for attempting to seize the throne, saying that John had acted as a misguided child. He also pardoned the archer whose arrow gave him a fatal wound. Is Scott's portrayal of Richard in keeping with these facts?

17. The character of Isaac of York is a complex one, involving greed, race hatred, and parental affection. Discuss how Scott brings out each of these characteristics without underplaying the others.

18. The medieval clergy has received much criticism from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Scott, and other writers. From the characters of Prior Aymer, Friar Tuck, and Lucas Beaumanoir, Grand Master of the Temple, do you consider such criticism justified? Consider both sides of the question.

19. Do you consider the supposed death of Athelstane and his subsequent return to life an addition to the story or a flaw? Defend your answer.

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