Ivanhoe is a novel written by Walter Scott (1771-1832). The main theme of Ivanhoe is the defense of the poor against the (Norman) tyranny. Scott is considered to be a learned author.
Ivanhoe is a historical narrative work, where there can be some aspects invented but the History and the characters are true; it is what is known as fictionalise history. Walter Scott uses in this novel the twomeanings of verisimilitude:
* Verisimilitude of features: fiction must be written according to reality.
* Rules of genre: rules or basic elements of each genre. In this case we can see that features of the work can be verified as historical true elements.
Historically, Ivanhoe is set in England in the twelfth century, towards the end of the reign of Richard I who is in prison in Austriaafter the Crusades. In his absence, the nobles have established a tyranny, and the lower classes suffer under it, which arose as a result of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Although time has passed since then, there is still hostility between the Normans, who came from France, and the conquered Anglo-Saxons.
The opening of Ivanhoe presents the main social conflict of the novel: the tensionsbetween the Saxons and the Normans. We can divide the fragment given in two parts, more or less by paragraphs, according to the thematic they follow. The first paragraph deals with fictionalised history, while the second (and third) deals with the social and political situation of two different group classes.
In the first paragraph we find a description of the place, the geography, from ahistorical point of view. The landscape, which is a true element, is described in a romantic and happy way, as we can see when he says “beautiful hills and valleys […] and the pleasant town of Doncaster". Scott refers to the past of England as “merry England”. Merry England was a happy country with heroes that does not exist in the present (although there are some heroes in the peninsular war). Afterthis description Scott makes clear that he is going to talk about nobility: “the noble seats of Wentworth”.
We can appreciate that Scott, with the sentence “Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley” makes a connection with fantasy, magic and legends, common in merry England, introducing the reader to something that is not true, that is invented (“inventio”). The author refers to thebands, gallants and heroes of English songs of ancient times. With English songs he means ballads about heroes that belonged to the oral and poetic transmission.
After referring to the English ballads, Scott states, in order to prevent the reader that the story is going to deal with one of those bands but he is going to treat him as a gallant. With this statement we can appreciate that the tonethat the story is going to follow is a romantic one.
As he has done with the place, Scott sets the “date of the story” in the first paragraph as well. With this setting we go back to history again since he is referring to the reign of Richard I (a king that really existed) but it is fictionalised because in Ivanhoe Scott mentions that Richard comes back to England but he never did. Following thissetting we find the main event of the novel: the conflict between Anglo-Saxons and Normands. As it is mentioned in the novel, the Anglo-Saxon population suffers the “subordinate oppression” of the powerful Normand nobility (who has been reduced to a “degree of subjection to the crown” by Henry II, an Anglo-Saxon king and father of Richard I but has recuperated its power) “despising the feebleinterface of the English Council of State, […] reducing all around them to a state of vassalage, and striving by every means in their power, to place themselves each at the head of such forces as might enabled him to make a figure […] impending”.
In the second paragraph, as it has been mentioned before, we have the description of the social and political situation of the two different groups, the...
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