With particular attention to the first chapter of the book, what has caused the conflict between the Saxons and the Normans? Who, if anyone, is to blame? What are some of the consequences of the conflict for each group?
Think about the novel's portrayal of religion in medieval English life. With particular attention to characters such as the Templars, Prior Aymer, Friar Tuck, and the palmer, what does Scott seem to say about the medieval church?
Many of the important characters in Ivanhoe spend time in various disguises, including Ivanhoe, Richard, Wamba, and Cedric. What role does the motif of disguise play in the novel as a whole? Why do characters take such pains to hide their identities?
"As a general rule, there is no character development in Ivanhoe; characters are the same at the end of the book as they were at the beginning." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
Women play a decidedly limited part in the story, often discussed solely in terms of their marriageability. (There are three prospective suitors for Rowena alone.) But women, particularly Ulrica and Rebecca, are also among the most vivid, sympathetic, and believable characters in the novel. What exactly is the role of women in Ivanhoe? How does Scott portray them? In terms of social prejudice and psychological accuracy, do you think his portrayal is objectionable, acceptable, or admirable by the standards of his own time? What about by the standards of our time?