Monday, 5 November 2012

WAVERLEY & IVANHOE: TWO ROMANTIC HEROES

WAVERLEY (1814)
PLOT

       Edward Waverley is educated in an English Jacobite aristocratic family.

       He is sent to Scotland to join the Hanoverian army of king George II.

       He visits a Jacobite family friend, whose daughter, Rose, falls in love with him.

       He , instead, is attracted by Flora Mac Ivor, the sister of the chief of the      rebels, Fergus.

       Edward betrays his mates and joins the rebels.

       He is finally forgiven by the king and marries Rose.

       Fergus is killed and Flora retires into a convent.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Waverley is set during the period of the Jacobite uprisings: it starts in the late summer of 1744 and ends many months after the battle of Culloden (1746) when the Jacobites were defeated and their cause was virtually destroyed.
French Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, fought against the Hanoverian King of England, George II, to restore the Stuart dynasty on the British throne. He was supported by many Scottish rebels and by numerous English Jacobites. 
The roots of these riots were in the so-called GLORIOUS or BLOODLESS REVOLUTION (1688) when the Parliament  replaced Catholic James II Stuart with his daughter, Mary, and her husband William of Orange. 





 IVANHOE (1820)


PLOT


  • Ivanhoe, an Anglosaxon nobleman, is in love with Rowena, who returns his love.
  • — His father contrasts their love, disinherits and banishes him.
  • — Ivanhoe joins King Richard I at the Crusades.
  • — When he returns he finds the country in a state of oppression due to the Norman invaders and to Richard’s brother, Prince John.
  • — The Normans are led by the evil Templar knight Bois – Guilbert.
  • — Bois- Guilbert has fallen in love with Rebecca a Jewish girl, daughter of a money-lender.
  • — Rebecca is accused of witchcraft and Ivanhoe defends her in a tournament in which Bois-Gilbert dies
  • — Ivanhoe with the help of Richard I (disguised as the Black Knight) and Locksley (Robin Hood) defeats the Normans.
  • — The Anglosaxons and the Normans learn to live together; Ivanhoe and Rowena are united; Rebecca leaves England with her father.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT
        12th century England
       King Richard the Lionheart’s reign
       The clash between the Anglosaxons and the Normans

MAIN THEMES IN BOTH NOVELS
1.       Closeness of the past to the present
2.       Social conception of history
History was not just a list of political and religious events but the product of human decisions; all human beings were involved in history both aristocracy and low humble people.
Scott introduced a new concept of history based on the lives of the ordinary people rather than on those of kings and noblemen.
3.       The convenient compromise
Scott was interested in the moments when an important historical crisis caused personal problems in individuals or in groups. Both Waverley and Ivanhoe stand for the convenient compromise between the two sides at conflict: Waverley embodies the reasons of the Hanoverian Army and claims of the Jacobite rebels; Ivanhoe is an Anglo-Saxon noble but he sympathizes with the Norman King Richard I’s cause.
4.       The Journey
Most of Scott’s novels follow the pattern which has been called the “journey”: A “traveller” – for ex. Ivanhoe or Waverley -  moves from one side of the conflict to the other; they usuallly leave a safe situation inside an ethnic group, come into contact with another one and share their life for some time. In the end they will go back with a different experience of life which will enable them to mediate between the two rival group. 
  FROM THE BOOK TO THE MOVIES

 After reading the passage A TRIAL BY COMBAT  from IVANHOE try to compare it to the two adaptations below . Which is the one closer to the original text?
 FILM 1982


BBC SERIES 1996

   

CRITICISM


Are Waverley and Ivanhoe Romantic heroes? Let's see what critics have said and written.

David Daiches in A CRITICAL HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE ( 1960 ) admits that Scott's characters lack psychological depth and recognizes them a symbolic function in the pattern of the so-called journey (see above)."They are not ordinary heroes but symbolic observers", he maintains.

Instead, Edgar Johnson in SIR WALTER SCOTT (1970) recognizes Ivanhoe as the hero in every respect. He helps the oppressed, he is devoted to his king, Richard, he fights at the Crusades, he defends Rebecca , he adopts the chivalric code and bridges the gulf between the Saxons and the Normans by marrying Rowena.

Waverley is instead a more pazzling hero since he is rather immature or  impulsive, never very much aware of the consequences of his actions, at times even naive. So can he be considered a Romantic hero? This is what Scott intended, at least. In the novel, the protagonist's virtues are usually underlined and he is shown as a model of generosity ,  bravery and sensitivity : " The voice of distress always found a ready answer in our hero's bosom".


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The Historical Novel  
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