Wandering Willie's Tale Characters
The female innkeeper who serves Steenie a drink on his way into the dark wood.
A servant in the Redgauntlet household, Hutcheon loyally accompanies Dougal the butler when the latter answers the call of the dead Sir Robert. Later, because he knows the traditions of Redgauntlet Castle, he is able to explain what the Cat’s Cradle is, which perhaps suggests the importance of preserving one’s connections with the past.
Laurie Lapraik, a neighbor of Steenie’s who lends him money for his rent, puts himself forward as a Presbyterian now that the Presbyterians are in power, but the narrator says he is actually a sly fox who adjusts his beliefs according to what is popular. He refuses to help Steenie a second time, instead unfairly blaming him for persecuting Presbyterians. Through him Scott may be suggesting disapproval of the Presbyterians and a preference for their opponents, the old rough knights like Sir Robert Redgauntlet.
Dougal is Sir Robert Redgauntlet’s loyal butler, ready to follow him even into death. He is friendly to Steenie and gives him important advice in the haunted castle. His relationships with Steenie and Sir Robert suggest something of the close ties that could develop in the old feudal world, in contrast with the purely monetary relationships associated with new men like Sir Robert’s son.
The minister disapprovingly tells Steenie that he was ‘‘tampering with dangerous matters’’ in his adventure, but adds that he will probably be in no further danger from Satan as long as he leads a prudent life from now on. He thus acts as a force for pulling Steenie back from the world of his adventure. On the other hand, he does help spread the story of the adventure by telling it to his wife, who repeats it after he dies.
Sir John Redgauntlet
Sir John is very different from his father. He carries a small rapier, unlike the huge broadsword Sir Robert used to wear, suggesting that violence is less important to him. He is a smooth-talking Edinburgh lawyer who will not believe Steenie about the rent without some supporting evidence for his story. He even accuses Steenie, falsely, of trying to cheat him, and unlike his father, he seems to have no qualms about pressing for his rent and threatening eviction. He is also very much concerned about his reputation, making sure that Steenie does not tell people that Sir Robert is in hell. He does resemble his father at times, for instance, when he swears at Steenie and when he shoots the monkey in the castle turret. But mostly he presents a contrast with his father, being concerned with law, money, and reputation in a way his father was not.
Sir Robert Redgauntlet
On the surface, Sir Robert Redgauntlet looks like the villain of the story. He is a violent persecutor of Presbyterians and is said to be in league with the devil. When his income is reduced, he squeezes his tenants and threatens to evict Steenie. However, he seems to be upset about the eviction threat, as if he would rather not be resorting to such measures; and before his income problems led him to become strict about the rent, he was kind to his tenants and his followers. He inspires loyalty in Steenie and in his butler, and when his son replaces him, the tenants think they would have been better off with Sir Robert. He does end up in hell, perhaps a fitting end for a ‘‘rough auld Knight,’’ but he seems to be enjoying himself there in his revels with his companions, and even in hell he is honorable enough to give Steenie the receipt he asks for. He is representative of the good and bad of the old ways, both the violence and the loyalty. Money does not come first for him, as it seems to for his son.
Steenie is the protagonist of the story, but in some ways is quite passive for a protagonist. In part, his social position as a tenant and follower of Sir Robert Redgauntlet creates this passivity. He is not a leader, that is not...
(The entire section is 1,243 words.)