'The honour of men, and the truth of women' : disguise and its cultural implications in the Waverley Novels
Disguises are everywhere in Walter Scott's Waverley Novels. One character wraps herself in a green mantle (Lilias in Redgauntlet); another easily switches between the identities of a Catholic priest and a Protestant preacher (Christian in Peveril of the Peak ) while all the characters in Ivanhoe participate in a general masquerade. These examples comprise a minute section of the disguises found in the Waverley Novels without touching upon those involving the disguising of events or circumstances. However, disguises are not simple matters of plot device or page filler. Disguises provide insight into the tension between reality and appearance as well as the manner in which members of a community can manipulate the social body. Disguises can be grounded in physical appearance or involve increasingly complex issues of identity, appearance and the gaze. By examining disguise incidents in the Waverley Novels, readers become aware of the cultural implications of disguise, revealing a disguise discourse which explores the most essential crisis of identity and community, namely violence, illegitimacy and incest. From the assumption of clothing to the entanglement of events, disguise and its cultural implications provide the linguistic context for examining deeper thematic issues such as cultural border crossing, political power structures and sexual transgression. Drawing upon Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's theory of homosociality, Rene Girard's conceptions of desire and revenge cycles, postulations of transgression by Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, disguise and its implications in the Waverley Novels is explored, focusing upon the creation of a discourse on otherness, power, cultural conflict and crisis. Disguise discourse is a dynamic aspect of Walter Scott's Waverley Novels, contributing to the development of complex issues within the novels.