Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Scottish Highlands

*Scottish Highlands. Mountainous area of northern Scotland that was home to the historical Rob Roy. The Highlands are the romantic setting for Scottish clan life in the novel. Several of Walter Scott’s works deal with the Scottish Highlands, but Rob Roy treats this area with special fullness and complexity. On one hand, the Highlands are beautiful, sublime, poetic, and impressive. On the other hand, they are dark, dangerous, primitive, and lawless. The Scottish clans of the Highlands are brave, daring, resourceful, and, at their best, heroic. They have a strong sense of honor and absolute loyalty to clan leaders like Rob Roy, but their way of life is often violent, disorderly, fearsome, and unproductive. For Scott, both the virtues and the vices of the Highlanders are closely associated with their country and its combination of wild sublimity and desolate barrenness. Scott’s descriptions of the Scottish Highlands in this novel are among the book’s greatest beauties, and such a scene as the horrific death of Morris and such characters as Rob Roy and Helen MacGregor seem to grow directly out of the soil of the Highlands. In broadly symbolic terms, Scott sees the Scottish Highlands as representing a romantic but doomed culture which belongs to the past. The poetry, feudalism, heroism, and concepts of honor associated with the Highlands must give way to the mercantile and rational values represented by Glasgow and London.

Osbaldistone Hall

Osbaldistone Hall. Northumbrian country mansion of Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone and his six sons. Osbaldistone Hall is called...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Anderson, James. Sir Walter Scott and History. Edinburgh: Edina, 1981. Presents Scott as an innovator in the historical novel who possessed the ability to delve into the embers of the Jacobite and Scottish/English conflicts of the eighteenth century.

Beiderwell, Bruce John. Power and Punishment in Scott’s Novels. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992. Foucauldian approach that examines Scott’s representations of the shifting structures of state power and punishment. Argues that Scott’s Rob Roy represents the (mis)uses of power and his ambivalence about paradigms of punishment and state discipline.

Ferris, Ina. The Achievement of Literary Authority: Gender, History, and the Waverley Novels. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991. Revisionist history that argues how the Waverley novels inscribe masculinist rhetoric and authority within the then female-dominated genre of the historical novel. Also discusses how the feminine voice remained in Scott’s writings. Illuminates the role of gender in the novel and accounts for Diana as a strong character.

Murray, W. H. Rob Roy MacGregor: His Life and Times. Glasgow, Scotland: R. Drew Publishers, 1982. Excellent biography of the historical figure Robert MacGregor and his part in the confusing and constantly shifting loyalties and political currents that existed in Scotland of the early eighteenth century. Portrays MacGregor as a Scottish Robin Hood.

Sutherland, John. The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1995. Authoritative biography on Scott. Useful in gaining insights into how his life and identity as a Scotsman helped shape such heroes as Rob Roy.