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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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Chapters 40-42

In an earlier chapter, Prince John is seen losing the loyalty of most of his knights except that of Waldemar Fitzurse, who slips out of the banqueting hall to confront King Richard before he takes back his power. On their way to Athelstane's castle of Coningsburgh to bury him, the Black Knight and Wamba are ambushed by Fitzurse and his men. Richard sounds his horn to summon Locksley and his outlaws. With their help, he overcomes and kills his attackers. Only Fitzurse is left alive. The king banishes him forever from England and confiscates his lands.

The Black Knight then reveals himself as the rightful King of England. He and Ivanhoe proceed to Coningsburgh. Athelstane, who has only been knocked unconscious and not killed, now rises to tell his story. Ivanhoe rides on, prepared and ready to champion Rebecca's fate.


Notes

Fitzurse, John's only loyal knight, assembles his men and seeks out King Richard before he returns to the throne. He knows that if he is able to defeat John's brother, he will be richly rewarded by the prince. Ftizurse, however, is no match for the Black Knight and his motley crew of followers. With the help of Locksley, Richard easily overcomes the attacking Normans, killing everyone but Fitzurse, who is permanently exiled from England by the King.

A great many revelations take place in these chapters. The Black Knight finally reveals himself to be Richard the Lion-Hearted, the true King of England. Locksley reveals his true identity as Robin Hood. And most dramatically (and unrealistically) of all, Athelstane literally rises from the dead to prove he has only been unconscious, not murdered. The action of the plot is beginning to be resolved; the loose ends are being tied up.

Many scholars criticize Athelstane's recovery, accusing it of being a weak twist in an otherwise strong plot; others, however, feel that Athelstane needs to be alive so that he can renounce his claim as the rightful bridegroom of Rowena and his assumed claim as a Saxon ruler of England. If he is alive and he willingly gives up his claims, the resolution of the conflict seems strengthened.

It is ironic that when all the Saxon resistors begin to accept the Norman Richard as their king, they are in the castle of Athelstane, who was supposed to become the next king. Athelstane's place in the story is to be the symbol for the weakness and ultimate submission of the Saxons to the Normans.

In these chapters, Scott once again intrudes into the story, this time to take the reader away from his fictional plot into the world of actual historical fact. He recounts the "true" story of how, in truth, Richard perished, and King John gained access to the throne. In this authorial intrusion, attention is drawn to Scott's deliberate subversion of truth, a narrative choice most authors try to disguise or make their readers forget.

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