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by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe Chapter 39 Summary

  • For this chapter Scott gives us two lines from "Song (From thy waves, stormy Lannow, I fly)," by Anna Seward. Scott makes a slight change: the original poem goes, "<em>Ah nymph,</em> unrelenting and cold as thou art," while Scott's version is "<em>O maid, </em>unrelenting and cold<em>..."</em> He presumably makes this change because Rebecca <em>is </em>a maid (an old-fashioned word for girl, especially a virgin girl), not a nymph, which is a woman-shaped spirit of nature. The speaker of the poem is resentful of the girl in question. She is behaving coldly, but the speaker has pride, too.
  • As the chapter starts out, Rebecca is singing a song in Hebrew.
  • Her song is all about the importance of humility and accepting God's will.
  • When she finishes her song, there's a knock on the door. It's Brian de Bois-Guilbert.
  • He promises that he won't hurt her.
  • He also tells her that there are guards nearby who will save her if he tries to harm her again.
  • Bois-Guilbert reminds Rebecca that she is condemned to die by torture.
  • Rebecca reminds him that that's his own fault.
  • Bois-Guilbert swears that it wasn't his choice. He wants to protect her as he defends himself.
  • Rebecca doesn't want his protection if it means giving up her chastity to him.
  • Bois-Guilbert confirms that the scroll suggesting trial by combat came from <em>him</em>.
  • His original intention was to appear as her champion, to prove her total innocence.
  • Now he's in a tough position. If he doesn't appear on behalf of the Templars, he'll be disgraced. But if he does appear, he will win and Rebecca will die.
  • Bois-Guilbert is willing to give up his place among the Knights Templar, which is so important to him, if Rebecca will consent to be his lover.
  • He suggests that they run away to Palestine, where he has friends. The Muslims of Palestine are less bigoted than the English, and they won't care as much about a Christian and a Jew living together.
  • Rebecca answers that this is all a silly fantasy. It would be much more practical for Bois-Guilbert to go to King Richard I to ask him to help her.
  • Bois-Guilbert is willing to leave the Knights Templar, but he won't betray them like that.
  • Rebecca says that, in that case, there's nothing more to be said. Bois-Guilbert should leave now.
  • Bois-Guilbert is heartbroken. He wishes Rebecca were a Christian, or that he were a Jew, so they could be happy together.
  • Bois-Guilbert asks if they can part as friends.
  • Rebecca forgives Bois-Guilbert for his bad treatment of her.
  • Next door to Rebecca's cell, Albert is waiting for Bois-Guilbert. He asks if Bois-Guilbert is okay.
  • Bois-Guilbert admits that he wants to go to Beaumanoir and refuse this trial by combat.
  • Albert points out that Bois-Guilbert would ruin himself <em>and </em>would not be able to save Rebecca, who is still condemned.
  • Bois-Guilbert's natural arrogance takes over. He remembers that Rebecca rejected his offer of love.
  • He also starts to think of himself as nothing more than a tool of fate.
  • So Bois-Guilbert agrees to fight for the Templars against Rebecca's champion in the trial by combat the next day.

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