Discussion Questions: Ivanhoe
Hello, Challengers! This week we’re tackling Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott’s novel of divided England. Remember, our discussion post will be on Thursday, and all participants will be entered in next month’s drawing for a Penguin Clothbound Classic. Here’s what we’ll be talking about on Thursday:
Ivanhoe is set in 12th-century England, but was written 600 years later, making it a work of historical fiction. Does Scott stay completely “in period,” so to speak, or is Scott open about his own time period? How does this affect the novel? (BEWARE — Spoilers below the cut!)
Much of the novel focuses on the division of the English population between Norman and Saxon, and the difficulties that arise when these cultures clash. Has Scott taken sides in this conflict? If so, whom does he support, and can you tell why? Is there 19th or 18th-century context that might help us understand his stance?
Scott has two major female characters, Rebecca the “Jewess” and Rowena the Saxon princess. Is his attitude toward them appropriate to the period his book is set in, or is it more Victorian? How so?