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Literature / Waverley

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Walter Scott's first novel, which is often considered to be the first work of Historical Fiction. The novel followed the title character, the young English gentleman Edward Waverley, as he falls in with a group of Scottish rebels during the 1745 Jacobite Uprising.

This novel lent its name to Walter Scott's entire oeuvre as the "Waverley novels", since he wrote them anonymously, and every one between this and 1827 was credited to "The Author Of Waverley".

The main railway station in Edinburgh (not far from the Scott Monument) is named after it, quite possibly the only instance of a railway station being named after a novel.

This novel provides examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Fergus' last request to Waverley is that he take care of his clan. Waverley at the end has enough money from his father's will to do so.
  • All There in the Manual: Copious notes are given, often interesting in themselves.
  • Author Filibuster: There are several places where the story is put on pause and Scott departs on a lecture about a tangential point.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Everyone in this book is described as improbably physically attractive. Even the daughter of a cattle thief, who is living in the woods, wakes up with perfect hair and sparkling white teeth.
  • Badass Bookworm: Waverley
  • The Bard: Flora
  • Brave Scot
  • Betty and Veronica: Flora and Rose.
  • Bonnie Scotland: The Trope Maker.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Scot does this several times "my dear reader", not least when talking about "Our Hero".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: The title character is a great bookworm but only with books that interest him. When he actually has to work at learning he is less sure.
  • Character Title
  • The Chessmaster: Fergus.
  • Civil War
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Scots mistake technology (specifically a pocket-watch) for live animals.
  • Clear My Name: Waverley is accused of instigating defection in the British regiment he is in. All the Whig characters are relieved that nothing of the kind happened and that he didn't join the Jacobites until resigning his commission so his honor is intact. Waverley could still theoretically be executed for treason and several of his friends are. But that is just for picking the wrong side in a Civil War, not being an oathbreaker so there is Nothing Personal.
  • Costume Porn
  • Culture Equals Costume: All of the Highland Scottish characters wear tartan at all times.
  • Culture Clash: Surprisingly averted, in spite of a language and culture barrier between the main character and most of the people he interacts with.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Fergus and Evan
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Waverley does this with Flora MacIvor, although he is volunteering for a cause and not fighting for her specifically.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Charles Stuart. Though given many writings of the period, this may be fairly accurate. Also the main character, who is positively gushed over by other characters and the third person narrator at every opportunity.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Flora, who is described as being more beautiful than the other absurdly attractive women. Also, other women, including Rose, appear to have serious girl crushes on her.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Fergus and Evan
  • Geneological Hero Upgrade: Lampshaded when Waverley wonders how he will look in the family history after enough time.
  • Good Versus Good: It is a Civil War and there are good people on both sides. Even both monarchs are capable of being generous and compassionate. That does not make them all nice or make war pleasant.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Bradwardine speaks a large portion of his dialogue in Latin.
  • Historical Domain Character: Charles Edward Stuart
  • It's All About Me: Or it's all about my family at least. The author writes in his notes that Charles had something of a weakness for ingratitude to his followers, based more on his training in ideology of Divine Right then personal inclination.
  • I Owe You My Life: Talbot to Waverley after Waverley first beats him down in a melee and then intervenes to ward off the highlander that is about to strike a finishing blow.
  • I Will Find You: Waverley goes seeking Rose at the last chapters.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Talbot, who repeats the Presbyterian wisecrack that as Charles is making such effort to get an earthly crown he wishes him a heavenly one.
  • Going Native: Waverley, with the Scots. However, he changes his mind and returns to England.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Done with Scots and Scottish Gaelic; however, Scott had some technical difficulties with the latter (errors made more unfortunate by attempts to be scholarly about it).
  • Idiot Ball: Waverley frequently has it
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Donald Lean
  • Kangaroo Court: Subverted. No one suggests that Fergus' trial isn't as fair as can be expected under the circumstances, even Fergus, although everyone knows the outcome. Talbot points out that Fergus may be an admirable person in many ways but he was clearly not a silly boy like Waverley. While Fergus defies the judges by pointing out that if the judges don't execute him they have to execute themselves as either he is a rebel or they are.
  • La Résistance: The Jacobites
  • Locked Away In A Nunnery: Flora ends up doing this.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Waverley has no idea that Donald Lean has been writing to his superior officers for him.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Waverley.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Lampshaded. Flora rejects Waverley's advance telling him that she cannot make him a good wife because she is to busy being a good Jacobite.
  • Mighty Whitey: The English in general, though averted with the title character.
    • Well they did kinda win you know.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Waverley first feels this when the Jacobites march through his father's estate and later when he meets his own former regiment in battle. Flora feels this when Fergus is sentenced to death and she feels responsible for prodding him into revolt with her own Jacobite fanaticism.
  • New Meat : the title character. In the beginning even Rose has seen more of warfare then him.
  • Noble Savage: the Scottish rebels. Played painfully straight.
    • Sometimes subverted. Many of the rebels are rustlers, or racketeers. Some are political schemers and some poor folk armed with nothing but Torches and Pitchforks. And they often quarrel over precedance in a manner contrary to the interests of their cause. Even Fergus and Flora are to some degree Frenchified, making them less "pure" example's of savages.
    • Inverted with Talbot, who is portrayed as more noble than his Scottish captors by dint of being "civilized"
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Highlighted at Preston.
  • The Pardon: Talbot begs this from King George for Waverley effectively arguing, "He's just a silly boy and besides he did it for a girl".
  • Pinball Protagonist: Waverley
  • Planet of Hats: the Scots
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Talbot to King George for Waverley. In a downplayed version, Waverley to Prince Charlie for Talbot(Charles has no intention of executing him but has to be convinced to let him go see his family).
  • Political Overcorrectness: In-verse Charles is referred to as "the Chevaliar" whenever Whigs and Jacobites converse to avoid calling him either prince or pretender. The narrator does that too as a meta example.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Fergus
  • Scenery Porn
  • The Rustler: The highlanders raiding the estate of Rose's father.
  • Truce Zone: The hall of Rose's father is a place where Whigs and Jacobites are forbidden to argue. Rose's father toasts "the king" and leaves it to his guests to decide which king they are toasting.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Talbot threatens this to King George himself when he first refuses a pardon for Waverley.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In the notes, a story is told of a real Jacobite who saved the life of a defeated Hanoverian. In return the Hanoverian begged his life, in much the same way.
  • War Is Hell: There are honorable men on both sides fighting each other and the whole country is shaken up. As Waverley is seeking Rose, he finds debris all round, and Rose's father's hall is wrecked. After his experience, Waverley admits to Talbot that he has had enough of being a gallant romantic warrior, and that his deepest desire is to be a nice, boring, husband and father in a nice, boring house.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Waverley. The author describes them in detail.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist
  • Worthy Opponent: Talbot