Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 296

John Ridd

John Ridd, the narrator and courageous hero. His hatred of the outlaw Doone clan is at variance with his love for beautiful Lorna Doone. At last, after many adventures, including the vanquishing of the Doones, he marries Lorna.

Sir Ensor Doone

Sir Ensor Doone, the head of the...

(The entire section contains 1082 words.)

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John Ridd

John Ridd, the narrator and courageous hero. His hatred of the outlaw Doone clan is at variance with his love for beautiful Lorna Doone. At last, after many adventures, including the vanquishing of the Doones, he marries Lorna.

Sir Ensor Doone

Sir Ensor Doone, the head of the Doone clan, loved by Lorna. Dying, he gives his blessing to her and John Ridd.

Lorna Doone

Lorna Doone, Sir Ensor’s ward. Captured by the Doones when a small child, she turns out to be an heiress, Lady Dugal. In love with John Ridd and hating the savage members of the Doone clan, she bravely resists the Doones’ tyrannical efforts to marry her to Carver Doone.

Carver Doone

Carver Doone, Sir Ensor’s son and the most villainous of the Doones. The actual murderer of John Ridd’s father, he is finally slain by John.

Annie Ridd

Annie Ridd, John’s sister.

Tom Faggus

Tom Faggus, a highwayman and John Ridd’s cousin. Annie’s love for Tom involves John in his concerns, almost resulting in John’s execution.

Jeremy Stickles

Jeremy Stickles, the king’s messenger. Saved by John Ridd from death at the hands of the Doones, he is later able to rescue John from execution.

Reuben Huckaback

Reuben Huckaback, John Ridd’s great-uncle, who is also a victim of robbery by the Doones.

Ruth

Ruth, the granddaughter of Huckaback, who wants John Ridd to marry her.

John Fry

John Fry, who, at the start of the novel, is sent to bring John Ridd home from school. Returning, they discover that the Doones have murdered John Ridd’s father.

Lord Alan Brandir

Lord Alan Brandir, Lorna’s relative, whose brutal murder by Carver Doone is instrumental in causing her to hate the clan.

Themes and Characters

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 786

Lorna Doone conforms to the reader's expectations of a romance in many ways, particularly in its idealized characterizations of women. Both Lorna Doone herself and John Ridd's older sister Anne have the unblemished purity and flawless beauty typical of Victorian-era romantic heroines. This is the way John Ridd sees them, and Ridd is both the central character and the narrator of the story.

On his final day at Blundell's School, John Ridd fights and defeats one of the school's strongest boys. Ridd realizes that something in him loves violence, but his conscience keeps questioning whether such violence is right. As a young man, he blinds his horse in one eye when the animal acts unruly, kills with a single blow a soldier who captures him, and thinks of nothing but revenge against his father's murderer. A grandfather at the time when he writes his autobiography, Ridd regrets some of these acts of violence triggered by a youthful temper. As he matures, he cures himself of vindictiveness. He becomes the champion wrestler in the region, his huge size and readiness to defend his title earning him the nickname "Girt John Ridd." He claims the rank of yeoman—a farmer who owns a small amount of land—and really wants no other title, although later in the novel King James II knights him. Honest, strong, and loyal, Ridd is a standard romantic hero who nonetheless possesses characteristics unusual for the type: a love of poetry, Shakespeare in particular, and an eye for the beauties of nature that makes his observations poetic in their own right.

Lorna Doone, later revealed to be Lady Lorna Dugal by birth, has a bubbling sense of humor that frequently gives way to tears when she thinks about her situation as a captive of the Doones. The leaders of the outlaws, Sir Ensor and the Counsellor, have raised Lorna in a manner suitable to her rank, shielding her from encounters with the coarseness and violence that characterize their way of life. Blackmore endows Lorna with all the standard appeal of a beautiful lady in distress, one who seems unattainable to the young yeoman farmer who adores her.

The Doones occupy a den in a inaccessible mountain region. The founders of the clan were noblemen outlawed in the days of King Charles I, and Sir Ensor and the Counsellor retain traces of nobility. The Counsellor's son, Carver Doone, is the kind of villain common in Victorian melodrama; swarthy, sensual, and brutal, he lacks nobility of any sort. John Ridd's opposite in both character and appearance, he is a formidable adversary whom Blackmore depicts as a demon, devoid of redeeming qualities. At the end of the novel Carver sinks into the Wizard's Slough, a bog that recalls the bottomless pit into which Satan falls in the Bible's book of Revelation.

While the novel's hero, heroine, and villain generally conform to type, Blackmore represents the common people of Exmoor very realistically. In all of his novels he reveals a good eye and ear for country manners and speech. Accurately portrayed but never idealized, the Ridds' employee, John Fry, their housekeeper, Betty, the merchant, Reuben Huckaback, and the highwayman, Tom Faggus, are much more believable than the leading characters. Their rough humor, raciness, and slyness lend an authentic note to a world of romance.

Although Blackmore insisted that Loma Doone was not a historical novel, it is populated by several historical characters and partially structured around historical events such as Monmouth's Rebellion and the Battle of Sedgemoor (1685). John Ridd meets Baron Jeffreys, the dreaded magistrate who presided over the Bloody Assizes, as the trials of the rebels were called. Although the two become friends of a sort, Ridd has no illusions about the character of the baron, who abuses his judicial position by demanding pay from prisoners for lenient sentences. John also meets John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough, and senses that there is something false about the general. A true Royalist, Ridd is not critical of the Catholic James II, even though he himself is a firm Protestant.

Blackmore was an archconservative, and the themes of Lorna Doone reflect the beliefs and biases of a man who distrusted changes that the Victorian era brought to England, particularly industrialization and democracy. England had once been agriculturally self-sufficient and Lorna Doone celebrates the values of a rural past. John Ridd is an idealized farmer, a member of the yeomanry that once formed the backbone of the nation. Blackmore's novel posits country life as preferable to life in town and displays a love of all things English—even the class system— throughout. Blackmore's optimistic faith in the triumph of good over evil makes the defeat of the Doones inevitable.

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