by Sir Walter Scott
Ivanhoe Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The remaining and lower part of the hall was filled with guards, holding partisans, and with other attendants whom curiosity had drawn thither, to see at once a Grand Master and a Jewish sorceress. By far the greater part of those inferior persons were, in one rank or other, connected with the Order, and were accordingly distinguished by their black dresses. But peasants from the neighbouring country were not refused admittance; for it was the pride of Beaumanoir to render the edifying spectacle of the justice which he administered as public as possible. His large blue eyes seemed to expand as he gazed around the assembly, and his countenance appeared elated by the conscious dignity, and imaginary merit, of the part which he was about to perform. A psalm, which he himself accompanied with a deep mellow voice, which age had not deprived of its powers, commenced the proceedings of the day; and the solemn sounds, Venite exultemus Domino, so often sung by the Templars before engaging with earthly adversaries, was judged by Lucas most appropriate to introduce the approaching triumph, for such he deemed it, over the powers of darkness. The deep prolonged notes, raised by a hundred masculine voices accustomed to combine in the choral chant, arose to the vaulted roof of the hall, and rolled on amongst its arches with the pleasing yet solemn sound of the rushing of mighty waters. (37.4)
What's really interesting about Lucas Beaumanoir is that, in spite of all of his grand talk about self-restraint and getting back to the basics of the Templar movement, he loves putting on a show. He has a huge flair for the dramatic. Here we see that he sets up Rebecca's trial with an eye to what will most impress the peasants: chanting knights, solemn rituals, and imposing mannerisms. Beaumanoir believes he is restoring the Templar movement to its original, moral ways, but his pride in the glory of the Knights Templar also seems to break Christian rules of humility and self-effacement.
"Thou canst not fly," said the Preceptor [Albert Malvoisin]; "thy ravings have excited suspicion, and thou wilt not be permitted to leave the Preceptory. Go and make the essay – present thyself before the gate, and command the bridge to be lowered, and mark what answer thou shalt receive. – Thou are surprised and offended; but is it not the better for thee? Wert thou to fly, what would ensue but the reversal of thy arms, the dishonour of thine ancestry, the degradation of thy rank? – Think on it. Where shall thine old companions in arms hide their heads when Brian de Bois-Guilbert, the best lance of the Templars, is proclaimed recreant, amid the hisses of the assembled people? What grief will be at the Court of France! With what joy will the haughty Richard hear the news, that the knight that set him hard in Palestine, and well-nigh darkened his renown, has lost fame and honour for a Jewish girl, whom he could not even save by so costly a sacrifice!" (39.60)
Bois-Guilbert is a bad guy, no doubt. Still, he's at his best when he decides to give up his Knight Templar pride to rescue Rebecca. For a brief time he seems willing to compromise his arrogance so they can escape together (though he is never quite willing to admit to Beaumanoir that he is the one who put Rebecca in this position in the first place).
Bois-Guilbert is at his worst here in Chapter 39, when Albert Malvoisin persuades him to represent the Knights Templar in Rebecca's trial by combat. Malvoisin appeals to Bois-Guilbert's pride in his reputation and family name. And it works, sort of: Bois-Guilbert actually decides to participate in a duel that, if he wins, will mean Rebecca's death. Bois-Guilbert's identity is so bound up in his fame as a knight that he can't give it up, even if it means the death of the woman he loves.
"Call me no longer Locksley, my Liege, but know me under the name, which, I fear, fame hath blown too widely not to have reached even your royal ears – I am Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest."
"King of Outlaws, and Prince of good fellows!" said the King, "who hath not heard a name that has been borne as far as Palestine? But be assured, brave Outlaw, that no deed done in our absence, and in the turbulent times to which it hath given rise, shall be remembered to thy disadvantage." (40.110-111)
The captain of the outlaws/Robert Locksley/Robin Hood is the last of the disguised characters to be revealed in the book. But it's odd: the backdrop of Ivanhoe is primarily historical. King Richard and Prince John were both actual rulers of England in the 1190s, but Robin Hood has always been a legendary character, since he first appeared in medieval ballads. Maybe he's based on a real guy, but if so that guy has been largely forgotten by history. The introduction of Robin Hood into Ivanhoe takes us a bit out of historical novel territory and into romance or fantasy fiction. Why do you think Scott decided to mix in the Robin Hood legends with his historical tale of Normans vs. Saxons? What motivations does he give Robin Hood's character?