Wandering Willie's Tale Topics for Further Study
by Sir Walter Scott

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

• How well does ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ fit the pattern of the quest story as outlined by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces? In what ways, if any, does it differ?

• Compare ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ with its main source, the folk legend reprinted in Joseph Train’s 1814 book, Strains of the Mountain Muse (pp. 191–95). Discuss how Scott altered the legend, pointing out specific instances. What did he add or change or leave out? What effect did his alterations have?

• Read the rest of Redgauntlet and see to what extent ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ fits in with the novel of which it is a part. Some commentators have said the tale has little to do with the novel. Others say its themes parallel those of the novel. What is your view? Explain, using examples from both texts.

• Compare the characters of Sir John Redgauntlet and Sir Robert Redgauntlet. Which one does the story seem to favor? Why?

• Research the landlord-tenant relationship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. What were the advantages and disadvantages for both tenant and landholder? Based on your research, do you think most landholders tended to feel kind toward their tenants or did they take advantage of their superior status? Is the character of Sir Robert representative of actual landholders from that era?

• Research the Jacobites and loyalty to James II after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. What kind of reputation did the Stuart family have with their detractors and supporters? From what social groups did they draw their support?