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The Truth of Ivanhoe

The Truth of Ivanhoe

Is Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe a true representation of the Norman-Saxon feud? Yes, and through a comparison of statements and ideas from Ivanhoe, Arthur and the Anglo Saxon Wars, The Anglo Saxons, Scott, and England in Literature: America Reads it will be proven that the Norman-Saxon feud was accurately depicted by Scott in Ivanhoe.

In Ivanhoe, Prince John attempts to take over England while his brother, King Richard, is away fighting the Crusades. In the book there are basically two sides to this struggle for control of England, the Normans and the Saxons.

Prince John and his followers make up the Normans, while the Saxons are led by the title character Wilfred of Ivanhoe. The Saxons try to prevent Prince John from stealing the throne. The story occurs during the third crusade, but the feud between the Normans and the Saxons in 1066 well before this time.

In 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, the Normans, led by William I, defeated the Saxons and took over control of England. Before this the Saxons had ruled England for 600 years. During the battle both sides fought strongly. It was a bloody war and many people died. The Saxons had fought and had won 21 wars to preserve their reign of England before their loss at Hastings.

The Normans were from the English hated-France, so they didn’t have much of a chance of being liked by the Saxons. What little chance the Normans did have was destroyed by William. He established a new ruling class that was all Norman. He also took the land belonging to 5,000-6,000 Saxon nobles and gave it to 180 Normans who supported him. “The laws which William made were oppressive and severe and the taxes were heavy.” Saxons commonly referred to William as a tyrant because of this.

The Normans and Saxons were further separated through language. The Normans spoke French, the Saxons spoke English, and both groups commonly refused to speak the other’s language. There was one instance in Ivanhoe where two Normans were guests at a Saxon castle. The Saxons refused to speak French, and the Normans refused to speak English. In the end both groups spoke their native language only, even though they were fluent in both French and English.

Another example of the Norman-Saxon feud from Ivanhoe occurred in the first several pages. Two Saxon servants came upon two Normans in the woods, and the Normans asked for directions to the nearest castle.

Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Conflict with Authority in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream the theme of conflict with authority is apparent and is the cause of the problems that befall the characters. It also is used to set the mood of the play. The passage below spoken by Theseus in the opening of the play clearly states this theme.

Be advised fair maid.

To you your father should be as god-

One that composed your beauties, yea, and one

To whom you are but as a form in wax

By him imprinted, and within his power

To leave the figure or disfigure it – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1.1.46-51)

The first example of conflict with authority in the play is the premiere example and sets up the conflict for the rest of the play. This example that occurs during the play is in the opening scene of act 1. Here we see Theseus warning Hermia not to disobey her father and advising her that Egeus created her and can “discreate” her if he chooses. Hermia is reminded that Athenian law provides that a father shall have total control of his daughter’s life until the daughter is married. Even though Hermia does not want to marry Demetrius, the law says she has no choice and must conform to her father’s wishes. If Egeus’s authority hadn’t been the supreme authority, than Hermia and Lysander wouldn’t have had to flee Athens for their love.

The other major example of conflict with authority is also partly responsible for the friction that occurs in the play. This example occurs in the fairy world between Oberon and Titania. Oberon, as king of the fairies, is the supreme authority in the fairy world. Therefore, by disobeying him, Titania is defying her supreme authority. Her disobedience causes the conflict in nature that is apparen…

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… on the mood.

Through Theseus’s speech to Hermia, Shakespeare introduces and establishes a central theme that is readily apparent throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he also uses this theme to establish the central mood of the play. Theseus reveals the central theme of the play in the opening act, particularly in the lines being examined, and we see this theme throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It occurs in three different situations and is carried on throughout the rest of the play. Shakespeare also uses this theme to create the mood of the play. In this way the passage spoken by Theseus becomes a pivotal point of the play. It serves as the introduction of the central theme of the play and also as the main device Shakespeare used to set of the mood. Shakespeare uses this passage as a starting point for the direction that the rest of the play will take.

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