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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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Chapters 25-27

The occupants of Torquilstone receive a letter signed by Gurth and Wamba, but sent by the mysterious Black Knight and Locksley; the letter demands the release of the prisoners. Front-de-Boeuf responds to the letter by asking that a priest be sent to hear the confessions of the prisoners before they are put to death. Wamba, dressed in Friar's robes, enters the castle "to hear the confessions of the condemned". When he reaches the place where Cedric and the others are imprisoned, he and Cedric exchange their clothes and Cedric is able to leave the dungeon undetected.

Thinking Cedric to be the priest, Front-de-Boeuf gives him a message for Philip Malvoisin. Cedric rejects Front de Boeuf's payment and joins the party outside. Subsequently, Wamba's disguise and Cedric's escape are discovered. It now seems that a clash is inevitable between the Normans inside and the besiegers outside, now joined by Cedric.


Notes

Though the demand to release the prisoners is written by King Richard, Wamba and Gurth sign it, as if to mock the Normans. The two are servants, supposedly fools, and yet they dare to write an ultimatum to John and his followers. As such, the letter is scorned and rejected, just as planned by Richard, Locksley, and the others. It is part of their plan to bring down the offending Normans. The jolly Friar Tuck is the one who has thought of this ironic joke; he eagerly anticipates the mockery it will provoke from the men inside the castle.

Wamba's use of the phrase "Pax Vobiscum" is full of irony. Its offer of peace is just the contrary of what is to happen when the battle commences. To prove authenticity and gain admission to the castle as a priest about to hear confession, Wamba repeatedly utters this and other Latin phrases, which the dull Normans do not understand. Wamba instructs Cedric to use such phrases as often as possible in leaving the palace; they will aid in his disguise and help to safeguard him against violence. Wamba's calculated behavior and his plan of changing places with Cedric demonstrate his intelligence and loyalty to the cause of bringing down John and his men.

The contrasting characters of both the Normans and the Saxons emerge clearly in these chapters. Prince John and his knights are shown to be the basest type of human beings, interested only in their own well-being and pleasure. They plan to kill the prisoners for no good reason at all. By contrast, the Saxons, aided by the good King Richard, prove their nobility and determination to make right prevail.

Cedric meets Urfried, who is revealed as Ulrica, the daughter of one of Cedric's good friends. Her confession to Cedric of the dishonor that has befallen her at the hands of the elder Front-de- Bouef horrifies him and proves the baseness of Norman behavior.

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