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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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Chapters 16 & 17

This chapter introduces Friar Tuck, the jolly priest who is one of Robin Hood's men. Earlier in the novel, King Richard proved his valor at Ashby disguised as the Black Knight. After the victory, he quickly disappeared before his identity was questioned. In this scene, he is traveling in the forest when he meets the Clerk of Copmanhurst, who is actually Friar Tuck. The two trust one another; they eat and drink in great companionship. The king and the fat priest get on so well that after supper they decide to sing together. Each chooses a song that makes fun of the other; the priest pokes fun at Crusaders and Richard mocks the priest.


Notes

Though Scott many times exposes the evils of the medieval Christian Church, he does not intend Friar Tuck to be symbolic of such corruption. Scott has acquired the story of the fat and jolly priest from legend and has used it in his novel for plot purposes rather for social commentary. In this chapter, Friar Tuck befriends King Richard, whom he meets in the forest. The reader also learns that King Richard was the Black Knight who came to Ivanhoe's aid during the tournament.

These chapters give another picture of life in the Middle Ages. The amiable fellowship between the king and the priest does not prevent them from making gentle fun of each other. The ballads they sing reveal the weakness of the king in neglecting his kingdom and the worldliness and easy life of a priest who should be more ascetic.

These chapters also develop King Richard in more detail. He is a good man who does not abuse or over-estimate his power. Like Friar Tuck, he is also a good-natured man who does not take himself too seriously.

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