by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe Duty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"And I must lie here like a bedridden monk," exclaimed Ivanhoe, "while the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by the hand of others! – Look from the window once again, kind maiden, but beware that you are not marked by the archers beneath – Look out once more, and tell me if they yet advance to the storm." (29.29)
With this quote, the "duty" we're talking about is Scott's responsibility as an author to keep his readers entertained. (Okay, maybe we're stretching the theme a bit, but we still think this quote is intriguing.) Scott has to find interesting ways of presenting these grand battle scenes. After all, straightforward description gets old after a while, even if the narrator is telling us about something as exciting as a bunch of knights fighting. So we get at least part of the siege of Torquilstone as a dialogue between Rebecca and the bedridden Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe's excitement and Rebecca's horror at the spectacle of battle both add to the reader's suspense and interest in the fight. By presenting this battle scene through a conversation between characters rather than through straightforward narration, Scott can also include more personal emotions from the characters' individual points of view. These emotions add flavor and substance to Scott's portrayal.
"Hold thy belief," replied Ulrica, "till the proof reach thee – But, no!" she said, interrupting herself, "thou shalt know, even now, the doom, which all thy power, strength, and courage, is unable to avoid, though it is prepared for thee by this feeble band. Markest thou the smouldering and suffocating vapour which already eddies in sable folds through the chamber? – Didst thou think it was but the darkening of thy bursting eyes – the difficulty of thy cumbered breathing? – No! Front-de-Boeuf, there is another cause – Rememberest thou the magazine of fuel that is stored beneath these apartments?"
"Woman!" he exclaimed with fury, "thou hast not set fire to it? – By heaven, thou hast, and the castle is in flames!" (30.36-38)
Ulrica finally gets her revenge on Front-de-Boeuf. She waits until he's lying on his deathbed before she reminds him of his many sins and informs him that she has set his castle on fire. What do you think of Ulrica's chosen method of vengeance? She manages to humiliate, frighten, and ultimately murder her archenemy. But she also promises him that she'll be joining him in "the same dark coast" (in other words, hell) because she is "companion to [his] guilt" (30.39). Ulrica feels terrible about what she's done, even if she also experiences bitter triumph at Front-de-Boeuf's downfall. Is Ulrica's vengeance worth the price she pays in guilt? How does her quest for vengeance affect the tone of these Torquilstone chapters? How does the narrator seem to regard Ulrica's violence and guilt? Does the novel claim that she's justified in her actions? Do you think she's justified?
"Thou art mad, De Bracy – what is it we propose to thee, a hired and retained captain of Free Companions, whose swords are purchased for Prince John's service? Thou art apprized of our enemy, and then thou scruplest, though thy patron's fortunes, those of thy comrades, thine own, and the life and honour of every one amongst us, be at stake!"
"I tell you," said De Bracy, sullenly, "that he gave me my life. True, he sent me from his presence, and refused my homage – so far I owe him neither favour nor allegiance – but I will not lift hand against him." (34.50-51)
After King Richard I, disguised as the Black Knight, saves De Bracy's life from the outlaws at Torquilstone, De Bracy owes him a big favor. But De Bracy has also sworn his loyalty to Prince John in exchange for money. Now that Richard is back in England and ready to confront his brother, what is De Bracy to do? He can't attack the man who saved his life, but it's also disloyal and cowardly to turn his back on his supporter and boss, Prince John. How does De Bracy's deep concern for his honor in this scene relate to his earlier decision to kidnap and marry Rowena? Does De Bracy seem to have a consistent understanding of what honor means? Which do you think should be more important, De Bracy's gratitude to King Richard or his loyalty to Prince John?