Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: Summary, Theme Analysis, Characterization, and Geography

December 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Wilifred of Ivanhoe Maurice De Bracy

King Richard “Black Knight” Prince John

Robin Hood “Locksley”

Isaac of York, the Jew

Cedric the Saxon Lady Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York

Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert Lady Rowena

Reginald Front-de-Boeuf Wamba, the jester

Sir Philip Malvoisin Gurth, servant to Wilifred of Ivanhoe

Templar Friar Tuck

Location: England, more specifically-

“In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don there extended in ancient times a large forest covering the greater parts of the pleasant town of Doncaster. The remains of this extensive woods are still to be seen at the noble seats of Wentworth, of Wharncliffe Park, and around Rotherham.” -Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott

Time: A period of time toward the end of the reign of Richard I, which lasted from 1157-1199 AD

Protagonist: Robin Hood “Locksley”

Goal: To defeat Prince John and have him exiled or executed

Antagonist: Prince John, Maurice De Bracy, and Reginald Front-de-Boeuf

Problem: De Bracy and Front-de-Boeuf capture Cedric the Saxon and all the people traveling with him and the household of Isaac the Jew, with whom was Wilifred of Ivanhoe

Climax: When Locksley announced that he was Robin Hood to King Richard

Resolution: Richard is restored to the throne and Prince John is given what he deserves

Plot: There is to be a jousting match and other such games sponsored by Prince John. The “Disinherited Knight” enters the lists and does quite well. In the marksman competition, an unknown yeoman, under the name of Locksley, is declared the best after splitting the arrow of his opponent. During one of the last games, all the competing knights are split into two different teams and will have a competition much like a battle. In the competition, a knight, “Black Knight” or “Sir Sluggard” fights well and earns the respect of Prince John, who wishes to name him the winner. But when the competition is over, the black knight is nowhere to be found, so Prince John grudgingly names the “Disinherited Knight” the winner. When his helmet is removed, Cedric the Saxon realizes that it is Ivanhoe, his son. Ivanhoe then falls down, unconscious because of a wound received during the contest. Cedric wishes to help his son, but after the crowd clears, Ivanhoe is not to be found because Rebecca, a Jewess, has taken him with her and her father in her litter so she can care for him. Cedric sets out to leave the games and along the way meets up with the party of Isaac, the Jew, Rebecca’s father. Unknown to Cedric, Ivanhoe is with the assembly. A small while later, the party is attacked and taken captive by De Bracy and his men, who had been ordered to do so by Reginald Front-de-Boeuf. They are taken to the castle of Front-de-Boeuf and held there until Gurth, Wamba, Locksley, the good friar, and some other woodsmen lay siege to the castle. The prisoners are eventually rescued and safely get away from the burning castle. Later, Locksley reveals that he is truly Robin Hood to the “Black Knight” who soon announces that he is King Richard, Coer-de-Lion. Ivanhoe and Lady Rowena marry after Ivanhoe has been blessed by King Richard. Ivanhoe continued to rise in the services of King Richard and would have risen farther if Richard had not unexpectedly died.

Theme: Everything will usually work out for those who deserve it.

Opinion of Ivanhoe

The book, Ivanhoe, was written in 1820 by Sir Walter Scott and is under the category “romance”. After reading, I felt that the book was more of an adventure/historical book, even though it was romantic at the end. I enjoyed the surprise that Locksley was Robin Hood, even though I suspected it was. When the Black Knight was first mentioned, I was almost positive that he was King Richard, but still enjoyed the part when he announced himself as King Richard. The story was a bit hard to understand at some points, but I believe it was, overall, a good book. The plot took many unexpected twists and turns throughout, but not so many that it wasn’t understandable.

The dialogue in Ivanhoe was interesting to read because you could tell that it was actually written in the past, and not just written to sound like it was in the past. Some words seemed to be misspelled, but were in fact spelled correctly for the day and age in which the book was written. I feel that it is important for the author to use a dialogue in keeping with the age or period in which the story occurs, rather than a modern dialogue. Overall, I think that Ivanhoe is a well-written book.


Wilifred: He is a strong-willed young knight. He appears to be resentful, almost bitter in his attitude toward his father, even though that is caused partly by the fact that his father has disowned him.

Prince John: He is a very weak, almost cowardly man who hides behind his power, but constantly lives with the fear that King Richard will come back to rightfully claim the throne as his own.

Isaac, the Jew: He is insecure, but schemes constantly. He is very greedy, even two-faced when he appears to give willingly to some cause, but later whines about the loss of his money.

Gurth: He is extremely loyal and will do anything for the person who has his loyalty. Even after he escaped, he returned to save his master, something very few slaves in his position would have done. He is friendly to most, but would make a bad enemy to have.

Wamba, the jester: He is a humorous man, but that is a given, considering his occupation. Despite his seemingly foolish mannerism, Wamba is intelligent and a good combatant.

Friar Tuck: Like in the story of Robin Hood known by many, he is a jovial man. Ivanhoe shows more than the traditional story, by showing the friar when he is playing at being a clergyman, and playing up to that role, not just jesting and becoming drunk. Like Gurth, he can be fiercely loyal.

Cedric the Saxon: Appears to be a typical warrior, rough on the outside with little or no manners. But inside he actually has feelings, as are shown when Ivanhoe is injured, but the warrior in him forbids even a minor show of affection.

The Geography

The story takes place near the river Don and the small town of Doncaster. Doncaster is located near the present-day metropolitan county of South Yorkshire in northern England on the Don River. It is an important railroad junction and coal-mining center located on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, a commercial canal. The town of Doncaster is currently the market center for the farm produce of the area, much as it was during the time of the story. Among the diverse manufactures are agricultural machinery, railroad equipment, textiles, and food products. Doncaster is known for its horse races, which have been held annually since 1615. On the site of present-day Doncaster was the Roman outpost, Danum, and the later Saxon settlement, Dona Ceaster. The town was granted its first charter in 1194, roughly the time the story of Ivanhoe took place. Its population is currently 284,300.

The story also occurs near Rotherham, the present day metropolitan county of South Yorkshire in northern England, at the junction of the Don and Rother rivers. An industrial borough, Rotherham now has coal mines, steel mills, and iron and brass foundries. Other significant manufactures include glass and electric equipment. Located in the borough are the 15th-century parish Church of All Saints, a museum, and an art gallery. The population of Rotherham is currently 247,100.

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