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The Character of King Richard I is Presented in Ivanhoe Not Only with All His Admirable Qualities but Also with His Shortcomings. Elaborate with Close Reference to the Text. - English (Literature in English)

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Answer in Brief

The character of King Richard I is presented in Ivanhoe not only with all his admirable qualities but also with his shortcomings. Elaborate with close reference to the text.

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Solution

King Richard I is a real, historical guy. He ruled England from 1189 to 1199 and led the Third Crusade of Christian knights to the Middle East to fight against the Muslims holding Palestine. He spent most of his life at war with various people – the French, the peoples of the Middle East, his own dad. With all this fighting, King Richard built up a reputation for chivalry – for living according to the honor codes of medieval knighthood – that has lasted for over eight centuries. (You can read more about the real Richard.) As a character in Ivanhoe, it's almost as if King Richard is two different people. There is that historical King Richard, the one we just described, who draws Ivanhoe out of England to fight by his side in the Crusades. That King Richard doesn't appear much in the book, because he's being held captive in Germany and then making his way back to England. (This really happened; he was held for ransom by Leopold V of Austria.) It's the absence of that King Richard that makes Ivanhoe possible, since it frees up his brother, Prince John, to bully the Saxons and generally make things more difficult for Ivanhoe and his family. King Richard's other face in the novel is that of the Black Knight. That guy loves jests and drinking songs and hanging around with jokers like Wamba and Friar Tuck. He doesn't always take a lot of initiative against the Normans, which is how he gets his other nickname, the Black Sluggard ("sluggard" means "lazy person"). For example, at the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, he doesn't really participate until he sees Ivanhoe about to get killed in a three-on-one fight with Athelstane, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert.

Still, when the Black Knight does jump into a fight, his mighty arm seems invincible. Later, when he joins the outlaws of Sherwood to storm Torquilstone. As Rebecca comments, "it is fearful, yet magnificent, to behold how the arm and heart of one man can triumph over hundreds". This is a guy who knows how to kick back and have a good time, but he's also ready to battle evil one-on-one when he sees it. Scott points outright to this conflict between our ideal of the heroic King Richard and the reality of his poor performance on the home front. When Richard tells the outlaws of Sherwood his true identity, he settles in for a long party with the guys. He doesn't want to take back his throne and responsibilities as king. It takes the encouragement of Locksley (Robin Hood) and Ivanhoe for King Richard I to get a move on and put down his brother John's rebellion. King Richard I always comes off better in ballads and legends than he does in history books.

Concept: Writing
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