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Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: Literary Review

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Ivanhoe is an adventure story set in 12th century England during the Holy Crusades of “Richard the Lion-Hearted” (King of England). This novel is one of great suspense and action, which elicits out great emotion such as valor and love. The author, Sir Walter Scott can be considered a historical storyteller. He brings together characters of his imagination and places them in the harsh environment of the medieval world, which gives the reader a feeling of excitement and danger while reading this book.

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Scott’s style of writing, in the third person, makes the story even more exciting. He brings the reader into an action scene or a love scene with great authenticity by describing in detail the events that take place, which adds to the realism of the story. He also uses flashbacks in the sense that he tells the story of one character then goes back in time to tell the story of a different character. He also uses these flashbacks as a method of developing each character in a much easier fashion. Eventually, his plan is to mesh all of the character’s lives to produce the dramatic outcome of the story when Ivanhoe defeats the wicked knight and saves the maiden.

What I enjoy about his style is that he gives the reader subtle hints to what may happen next. For example, Rebecca warns Gurth, a swineherd, about bandits, which leads to a confrontation between them. This draws the reader further in and makes him want to go deeper into the story.

Scott paved the road for this style of historical writing. A great example is that he makes Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe the hero and not King Richard who is more powerful than him. He bases this story on real places and real events that took place which add to the naturalness of the story. Moreover, he added romance to the usually tedious historical fiction novel to make it even more authentic. He is said to be the first to combine romance and history in such great detail to make them actually realistic.

He gave his characters great personalities and charisma by giving them certain principles. One principle that Scott bestowed upon his male, noble characters was chivalry. Chivalry can be described as great and undying respect for truth, honor, and women. Ivanhoe’s motivation is his chivalry and pride that keeps him loyal to King Richard even though it meant his own father would disown him. His chivalry and courage are displayed at the end of the novel when Ivanhoe rides in to fight for Lady Rebecca and defeats Brian De Bois-Guilbert, the knight whose passions for Rebecca caused his own death.

In conclusion, Ivanhoe was a novel ahead of its time, a true classic that was great when it was written and still great today. For Sir Walter Scott to combine adventure, love, and honor in the way that he did is ingenious. I truly loved this book and if any of Scott’s other works are like this one, I look forward to reading them as well.

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