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Walter Scott 1771 - 1832

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Walter Scott 1771 - 1832

Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh into a professional middle-class family who possessed a strong sense of tradition. As a child he became familiar with many legends as stories of the past and these were to be a potent influence on his literary work. He composed and published a series of full-length Romantic narratives in verse, but the success of Byron's verse tales and his own tiredness with narrative poetry made Scott turn to prose. His plots are based on strange and uncommon incidents, linked with the romance tradition.

Scott is often credited with having 'invented' the historical novel, a novel whose story takes place in a historical past. This is not strictly true, but he was instrumental in perfecting it and establishing it as a recognised genre. He expressed the Romantic interest in the past, the Middle Ages in particular, and in folk traditions.


From Ivanhoe

This is Scott's most famous novel. The story is set during the reign of Richard I, the Lion Heart; it describes the struggle between two peoples: the Saxon, the "original" British, and the Normans, the conquerors. In the novel are depicted more than 154 characters and we can see different social classes:

High class: Anglo-Saxons and Normans

Low class: Saxons


(Templars: priests and warriors)

The main plot is the story of Ivanhoe, a Saxon knight disinherited by his father, who is in love with Rowena, Cedric's young ward. In the novel there are many other subplots, concerning with Jewish tradition (Rebecca and his father), the warrior's ideal (King Richard, the Templars, Robin Hood), the theme of familiar unity (as the main plot evolves to the final reconciliation). In the text we can identify three main points, from which the story radically changes:

The Tournament: here is discovered the identity of the disinherited knight, Ivanhoe.

The Castle of Torquilstone: Robin Hood and the Black Knight (King Richard) rescue the prisoners of the Templar Knight.

The liberation of Rebecca by Ivanhoe.


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