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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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Chapters 30 & 31

The battle rages on, with both parties fighting intensely. Front-de- Boeuf is seriously wounded in the battle. As he lies dying, the old hag Urfried accuses him of all kinds of sins, the worst being the murder of his own father. Hungry for revenge for wrongs done to her by his family, she sets fire to the castle. Both she and Front-de- Boeuf die in the flames. The Black Knight saves Ivanhoe and captures De Bracy. Everyone manages to escape to freedom except Rebecca, who is carried away by Bois-Guilbert, the Knight Templar who wants to defile her. In attempting to stop Bois- Guilbert, Athelstane is hit on the head and falls down, apparently dead.


Notes

These chapters show that divisions exist within both the Saxon party and the Normans. As both groups falter from obvious lack of unity, the dramatic tension of the plot is heightened. It is obvious that the frail bond between the defenders of the castle is breaking up. Front-de-Boeuf wants to see his comrades, Bois-Guilbert and De Bracy, die in the fire with him; he is a jealous man with no concern whatsoever for their mutual cause. His dying thoughts reflect the pettiness of his life. Bois-Guilbert and De Bracy are not in the least concerned about their wounded companion's fate. They know he is dying, but stand aside calmly to discuss what is to happen to Prince John if they fail in their attempts to overcome the resistors outside the palace gates.

There is also some serious division among the Saxon resistance outside. No one seems to want to assume the leadership role, implying that the lack of purposeful leaders among the Saxons could be the reason they have been and will continue to be dominated by the Normans. Cedric, even though he is a staunch opponent of the Normans, refuses to lead the Saxon resistance.

Urfried sings a death song when she is dying in the burning palace with Front-de-Bouef. It is a dramatic song that heightens the intensity of the scene and the redemption of her act. She sacrifices her own life for a small bit of vengeance on the son of the man who has defiled her and the name of the family that has done so much wrong. Superstition and legend, which have already been revealed as an important part of medieval daily life, are here skillfully woven into the action to achieve a wonderfully melodramatic atmosphere.

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