Scott and the nature of heroism
This study is a response to some modern judgements of Scott's work rather than a general discussion of the Waverley Novels. Through close analysis of specific texts it attempts to reassess accepted views of the author's narrative technique and characterisation, as well as his uses of history and ideological conflict. Therefore, I concentrate on five novels as illustrative of a continuing attitude to the notion of heroism. Starting with Waverley, from which much critical opinion has derived, I discuss Scott's first exploration of realism and romanticism in the life of the hero. In the consequent tensions I find much of the material for later works. The central section of my thesis looks at three European novels, Quentin Durward, Kenilworth, and Woodstock, for their demonstration of the breadth of Scott's social and historical concern as well as their universal themes more usually associated with the "Scottish" works. My final chapter discusses Old Mortality, drawing together some of the issues of heroism arising from all five novels, and relating these to the religious conflict within which Henry Morton achieves his status as hero. In conclusion, I try to discover Scott's placing within a philosophical and literary tradition which extends from the writing of David Hume, to the Existentialism of Albert Camus. In this I suggest a fundamental link between Scott's concern as a novelist, and a major literary theme of twentieth-century Europe.