Summary and Analysis
Scott uses a flashback to supply missing information about the wounded Ivanhoe from the time of the tournament until the battle of Torquilstone. When Rebecca gave up her litter to the invalid and exposed herself on horseback, Brian de Bois-Guilbert noted her beauty and desired her. Regaining consciousness, Ivanhoe was surprised to find himself in the company of the Jewess. She told him of her healing knowledge and promised to make him well in eight days. On the journey toward York Cedric's party overtook that of Isaac, and when all were captured by De Bracy, Ivanhoe was also taken to Torquilstone.
Ivanhoe is left in the care of Rebecca and when the fighting begins she, although in peril from the flying arrows and stones, stands at a window and describes the struggle to the wounded knight. As the besiegers appear to have won, Ivanhoe, exhausted from the excitement, falls asleep and Rebecca muses over her feeling for him.
In introducing the flashback in Chapter 28, Scott again uses authorial intrusion — standing outside the novel to comment upon it as a contrived piece. The flashback in Chapter 28 typifies the time shifts throughout Ivanhoe. Scott is depicting the action by scenes, and if a scene involving one set of characters occurs simultaneously with a scene involving other characters of the novel, the author used flashbacks or time shifts to follow the fortunes of both sets of characters. At times this method leaves an impression of illogical time sequences.
The kindness of Isaac in allowing Rebecca to minister to Ivanhoe is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that he is persuaded because he doesn't want the knowledge of the healing balsam to fall into other hands and that it may profit him to have shown kindness to one of his minions should Richard return to power. Rebecca, however, who has received the secrets of Miriam, has no motive other than her natural goodness and an affection for Ivanhoe contrary to what she, as a Jewess, ought to feel for a Christian.
The biographer Henry A. Beers writes, "Scott is always a little nervous when the lover and the lady are left alone together." He cites an example from The Lay of the Last Minstrel:
Now leave we Margaret and her knight
To tell you of the approaching fight. (Canto Fifth)
The reader will notice some of this also in Ivanhoe.
Chapter 29 includes an important dialogue involving Rebecca and the Christian knight Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe is defending the medieval code of chivalry and honor to one who views it as a rationalization for bloodshed and empty trappings. Victory, renown, and glory are the ambitions of medieval knights, and disgrace is the only fate they fear. Ivanhoe's speech is pivotal in Scott's representation of the essence of chivalry.
caftaned wearing a long-sleeved gown fastened by a girdle (a caftan)
slot-hounds a sleuth hound, bloodhound
Shylock Jew in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice
truncheon a short staff or cudgel
A la rescousee. To the rescue.