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Fridge: Ivanhoe

Fridge Brilliance

  • Is Rebecca clearly the protagonist of Ivanhoe? Yes. Does her perseverance, courage, and strength deserve a reward in the form of a romantic union with the man she loves? Yes. Is the fact that they don't end up together terribly tragic for Rebecca and canonically bittersweet for Wilfred? Yes. BUT Wilfred fights for Rebecca on the battlefield and wins (because his opponent apparently had a heart attack, but we'll say it's the thought that counts). Knights fighting over a woman is a familiar image. If Wilfred married Rebecca after saving her life (and defeating her Stalker with a Crush), it would have reduced Rebecca to the role of a Prize, symbolically if not literally. It would have been the worst Sweet and Sour Grapes following her rejection of Bois-Guilbert's suggestion that he save her so she could reward him by marrying him. Wilfred standing up for Rebecca is all the more meaningful because he didn't expect her to reward him or submit to him as a prize afterwards (in fact, he considers himself the debtor since Rebecca already saved him), and it affirms Rebecca's (and presumably Sir Walter Scott's) opinion of true, selfless chivalry. Scott's ending is the only one that allows whatever loyal love there may be between Rebecca and Wilfred to remain unsullied by Unfortunate Implications and allows Rebecca to retain all the dignity of a protagonist rather than a prize. Bittersweet Ending or not, I'm still glad Scott didn't take the typical route of obligating the woman to give herself to the man who saves her (radical feminists must be, too, come to think of it). - Lale

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