Young Frank Osbaldistone is beginning, although not very quickly, to appreciate the gravity of the situation his father is and, beginning in chapter 23, he begins to get some notion of the situation that he himself is in.
As difficult a situation as that might be, however, his new appreciation is not enough to stop him from acting like an idiot.
That might seem like a crazy way to write a novel on Sir Walter's part but it was much done at the time. Fielding's Tom Jones remains an idiot for most of his work. Radcliffe's heroes seem to take forever to figure out things that are long obvious to her readers.
In that regard, I might return to the issue of the secret identity of Robert Campbell, cattle dealer (or, more likely thief). I trust it is obvious from the prison scene that we are supposed to have figured out who he is by now and that Scott's intention is that we are to get some pleasure from seeing how long it takes young Frank to figure it out?
Of course, we have the singular advantage of knowing that it says "Rob Roy" on the cover and that the guy is going to show up sometime.
But back to the issue of character development. Sir Walter writes the way they teach people to write in creative writing classes. His hero has flaws that stand in the way of his goals and we see them played out. Some basic change in his character is required for him to succeed.
Again, the contrast with Austen is worth noting here. None of her heroines changes profoundly because none of them have to. They come already equipped with the virtues they need to succeed and at most only need to develop what is already there a little further. Some make mistakes that they need to recognize and compensate for to succeed to be sure but they remain the same otherwise.
Scott writes in another tradition and we are to look to see Frank change.
The other thing that strikes me in these two chapters is that there are moments that are rather proto-Dickens. Andrew Fairservice, for example. And then there is this lovely paragraph giving us a wonderful sense of local colour:
Repeated knocking at Mrs. Flyter's gate awakened in due order, first, one or two stray dogs, who began to bark with all their might ; next, two or three night-capped heads, which were thrust out of the neighbouring windows to reprehend me for disturbing the solemnity of the Sunday night by that untimely noise. While I trembled lest the thunders of tneir wrath might dissolve in showers like that of Xantippe, Mrs. Flyter herself awoke, and began, in a tone of objurgation not unbecoming the philosophical spouse of Socrates, to scold one or two loiterers in her kitchen for not hastening to the door to prevent a repetition of my noisy summons.Anyway, things are getting a bit better thanks to Bailie Jarvie, who, recognizing that Frank is too obsessed with romantic notions sends him off to the university where he runs into Rashleigh and promptly starts a duel. The judges give him the edge but he ends up injured and only an intervention from Rob Roy himself prevents anything more serious happening.
Frank realizes, or he is tole at least, that he is vulnerable here in Glasgow and that is where we end today's instalment.
Until next time.