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Named Wilfred of Ivanhoe, he is disinherited by his father for loving Rowena and following the Norman King Richard to fight in the Crusades. Though the novel is named after him and he ultimately becomes a hero when he defends and saves Rebecca from death, he remains a somewhat vague character through much of the book. As the protagonist of the novel, he is largely symbolic of the new type of Saxon who can accept the Norman rule as long as it is just and merciful.
After he is disinherited, Ivanhoe takes on two disguises to accomplish his goals. First, he appears as the Palmer to reassure Rowena that Ivanhoe is still alive and on his way home to England; he also serves to defend Isaac the Jew when he is mistreated by the Normans and Saxons alike. Ivanhoe then disguises himself as the Disinherited Knight and participates in the Ashby Tournament, where he fights bravely and honorably, defeating all of the other knights. When he is wounded in the fighting, he is nursed back to health by Rebecca.
Ivanhoe is constant in his love for Rowena. In spite of being disinherited for his love, he refuses to change his plans to marry the noble and beautiful woman. In the end, he wins her hand in marriage. Ivanhoe is also constant in his support of Isaac and Rebecca. He openly comes to Isaac's defense when he is mistreated at the banquet and fights for Rebecca and wins her freedom before she is accused as a witch and burned at the stake.
Scott's enormous knowledge of history and chivalry go into the characterization of Ivanhoe, who becomes the symbol of an ideal, gentle, and perfect knight. His constancy, honor, bravery, kindness, and nobility make him a worthy protagonist. The reader is pleased that the novel ends in comedy for this hero.
Cedric's main ambition is to see a Saxon back on the throne of England and puts all his energy into this goal. When his son Ivanhoe displeases him by falling in love with his ward Rowena and by supporting the Norman King Richard, Cedric disinherits him. Cedric is so involved in executing his own desires and wishes that he is often oblivious to others. He chooses Athelstane as the logical successor to the crown, even though he is ineffectual and lazy. He also plans to marry his ward Rowena to Athelstane, for he sees it as politically advantageous; he is not at all concerned that Rowena might love Ivanhoe, as he loves her.
When Ivanhoe returns in disguise, first as the Palmer and then as the Disinherited Knight, Cedric does not recognize or acknowledge his son. When his identity is revealed, Cedric never openly expresses regret or concern that he has disinherited Ivanhoe for no other reason than that his son has threatened his ability to restore a Saxon to the throne. When Ivanhoe emerges as victor in the games at Ashby and raises his visor to crown Rowena Queen of the Tournament, Cedric recognizes him; out of pride, however, he refuses to acknowledge him.
Cedric's pride is his worst quality. Saxon pride compels him to find some kind of answer to the Norman conquest of the country he loves. In this quest, he virtually forgets his own son and everyone around him. Though in reality he has a kind heart, Cedric is single- mindedly focused on his goal of raising a Saxon line to the throne. He will not tolerate anyone, even his son, standing in his way. Though he hates the Normans, when he hosts them in his home, his pride makes him offer them his finest foods and wines. Although he constantly calls for Saxon strength as an answer to the Norman rule of England, when the Saxon resistance needs a leader, he declines. He is so proud and so stubborn, it is hard for him to see that even he contributes to the poor leadership skills of the Saxons, a fact which inevitably bears on the fact that they continued to be ruled by the Normans
Cedric is not a totally static character. He undergoes a gradual transformation, as seen when he drinks a toast to Richard's health. He realizes that just as there are many kinds of leaders, there are many kinds of Normans. He decides to treat each person on an individual basis, and in the end pledges his loyalty to Richard, who has proved himself a triumphant and effective king and a merciful leader. Most importantly, Cedric reconciles with his son in the end and blesses his marriage to Rowena.