Representation Of The Relations Between Saxons And Normans In Walter Scott’s Novel Ivanhoe
Before I get into any explanations about the resolution of the seemingly ongoing almost never ending Saxon/Norman conflict throughout the story it would only be fitting to start from the beginning and go down the path till very end to reveal the final act which resolves the tension between them.
A romance with historical facts, an adventure story, whose main goal is to entertain readers with a tale of heroism taking place in England during the historical period of the Middle Ages. It is meant to please, not to instruct, and is more an act of imagination than one of historical research, evidence and facts about England at that particular time period.
Despite its fiction, however, the story of ‘’Ivanhoe’’ revolves around an important time in history: the year 1194, when King Richard the Lion-Hearted returned from the Third Crusade to reclaim his kingdom from John who is his brother who had taken over much of Richard’s power during his long absence in the Holy Land.
The story begins four generations since the Norman conquering of England. The bullying of the Saxons by the hands of the Normans is at an all-time high. They refuse to speak to one another and have developed hatred for each other’s languages and squabble all the time. To make matters worse, The English king of Norman decent, has been imprisoned in the confines of a castle or a fortress in the Alps in the territory of Germany’s little sister.
In order to create the setting, the author uses both made-up and real places. South Yorkshire, Sheffield, Doncaster, and York are real and still within English territory even to this day. You can even still visit the ruins of the authentic Norman castle from the story dating all the way back to the 12th century. The adventures of Ivanhoe seem meaningful as if the tale could have happened from a realistic standpoint. Ivanhoe isn’t a documentary about the British Middle Ages. Jousts, outlaws and tournaments all combined into one to make one good fantasy novel. The author is attempting to tell a unique story as the setting is a vibrant backdrop to the adventure.
Ivanhoe is suspenseful, because the author combines fiction and facts. The real people, places and events are the focus point, while the remaining settings and side characters are less important let the readers know that Sir Walter Scott is turning away from the historical significance. Anything could happen to the main character, because he is fictional one.
The unpredictability comes from the made-up elements. Everything sucks from the beginning. Ivanhoe’s father is furious at him for joining the Crusades without Cedric’s permission. While fighting in the Third Crusade nobody knows what is happening to him.
Is he dead ? Is he alive ? If he is, is he going to return to England ? If he does will he be on the side of the Normans or the Saxons ? Will he marry the love of his life Rowena or is this the end of their relationship ? Meanwhile Richard the first is imprisoned in an unknown fortress or a castle In Germany’s little sister, Austria. In his absence the throne has been taken by his awful brother, John. Saxons are being terrorized by lords of Normand decent.
Bois-Guilbers feels a severe hatred towards Ivanhoe and despises all Saxons. Bois-Guilbert wants to humiliate our hero by defeating him in the tournament. He gets knocked out in the jousting at Ashby. Ivanhoe posing as ‘the Disinherited’ an anonymous knight who beats Bois-Guilbert’s in combat. His victory evokes a positive reaction from the crowd at the event. His return from the Crusades is a signal in the people what they are going to fight the bullies who have made the country a hell hole. But like every great story there Is a twist. The main character of the story is bloodied and bruised after the tournament and Jewish woman by the name of Rebecca treats his wounds and helps him recover. She’s taken a huge liking to him and can’t help herself by her feelings of attraction and being interested and wowed by the knight in shining armor who has returned to help the people.
This is the moment in the story where the Normans/Saxon conflict truly manifests and the boiling tensions between them are too much to handle as both parties in this fight demonstrate, the time for arguing is over. The conflict between Ivanhoe and Bois-Guilbert grows and introduces a greater number of fighters on both sides. The local outlaws assemble a fighting force to fight back as they despise the Normans, so in a way the reason for them to attack the castle is to save Cedric and Rowena. The outlaws group includes the Black Knight, an unknown entity who supports their cause.
The build-up is here and now everything explodes into a giant out of control battle between the two majorities of England in which our hero is absent as he is weak and can’t fight. The out of containment brawl has concluded as Saxon victory as they stand tall and triumphant over the other previously ruling ethnic group made up of those awful and heinous Normans! The outlaws conquer Torquilstone, which burns to the ground afterwards. Thus it would seem that this would be the ending of the conflict as the Saxons are victorious.
But it isn’t you see as the story continues and progresses as we find John planning a dastardly scheme to takeback the throne. The mysterious entity of the Black Knight is revealed to be King Richard as he has come back to regain his throne. Upon learning this Prince John is stunned and shocked as he immediately organizes a laughable murder attempt on him. Despite the victory at Torquilstone in order for the story to manifest its self to the conclusion that the reader so far wishes for, the ongoing tensions between them need to be resolved properly. The attempted assassination by Prince John on his brother fails miserably because the outlaws came to save King Richard. Afterwards Robert Locksley says that he is the man behind the mask who helps those in need, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor non-other than Robin Hood. King Richard says he is the mysterious figure that is the Black Knight.
Rowena and Ivanhoe have the blessing of Cedric to get married as he doesn’t have bad feelings anymore towards Ivanhoe because of his him siding with Richard all this time. Ivanhoe marries the love of his live Rowena, there marriage is supported by King Richard and Cedric.
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