Ivanhoe Study Guide

Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe, which takes place in the twelfth-century, is a historical novel that follows the story of protagonist Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a Saxon of British descent, who has been disinherited by his father for supporting the Norman King Richard, of French descent. Though the novel does explore important themes like the conflict between heroic ideals and modern society, Ivanhoe is primarily an adventure story, as readers follow the main character through jousts, tournaments, and saving damsels in distress.

Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the titular character, is a knight and son of Cedric the Saxon. Ivanhoe, though of a more noble lineage than some of the other characters, represents a middling individual in the medieval class system who is not exceptionally outstanding in his abilities, as is expected of other quasi-historical fictional characters, such as the Greek heroes. Critic György Lukács points to middling main characters like Ivanhoe in Sir Walter Scott's other novels as one of the primary reasons Scott's historical novels depart from previous historical works, and better explore social and cultural history.

Other characters

  • Rebecca – a Jewish healer, young daughter of Isaac of York
  • Lady Rowena – a Saxon lady under the protection of Cedric of Rotherwood
  • Prince John – brother of King Richard
  • The Black Knight or The Sluggish Knight – King Richard, incognito
  • Locksley – Robin Hood, an English yeoman
  • The Hermit or Clerk of Copmanhurst – Friar Tuck
  • Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert – the leader of the Knights Templar; a friend of Prince John
  • Isaac of York – the father of Rebecca; a Jewish merchant and money-lender
  • Prior Aymer – Prior of Jorvaulx Abbey; friendly to Prince John
  • Reginald Front-de-Boeuf – a local baron who was given Ivanhoe's estate by Prince John
  • Cedric the Saxon/Cedric of Rotherwood – Ivanhoe's father, a Saxon noble
  • Lucas de Beaumanoir – Grand Master of the Knights Templar
  • Conrade de Montfichet – a Templar knight
  • Maurice de Bracy – Captain of the Free Companions, a band of mercenaries. He introduces the word "freelance": "I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them... thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment".
  • Waldemar Fitzurse – Prince John's loyal minion; his name tied to Reginald Fitzurse, one of the killers of Thomas Becket
  • Athelstane of Coningsburgh – last of the Saxon royal line
  • Albert de Malvoisin – Preceptor of Templestowe
  • Philip de Malvoisin – a local baron, the brother of Albert
  • Gurth – Cedric the Saxon's swineherd
  • Wamba – Cedric the Saxon's loyal jester
  • Ulrica – An elderly woman locked in the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, where she has been imprisoned for much of her life. The castle was captured from her father by Front-de-Boeuf when she herself was young.
  • Kirjath Jairam of Leicester – a rich Jew
  • Hubert - winner of the first round of the archery contest
  • Alan-a-Dale - member of Locksley's band

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