Blogging Rob Roy chapters 7 to 9
Note: later today I will publish two lists of virtues. One that is typical of shame-honour cultures adn one typical of guilt-innocence cultures.
In Chapter 7, Frank learns that he has been accused of a crime. He is the last to learn of it and what makes it all very disconcerting for him is that everyone behaves as if he is guilty. If he thought of it more deeply—and note that he isn't a very deep thinker—it would bother him even more that Die Vernon, who also acts as if he was guilty, does so even though she knows from the outset that he is not. She does so because she is fully committed to the shame-honour culture.
And we couldn't get a more clear-cut example of the difference between a shame-honour culture and guilt-innocent one. In a shame honour culture the accusation and the shame that comes with it is the problem to be fixed. Frank is advised to run for Scotland so that the thing can be quietly hushed up.
As a good protestant Englishman, he will have none of it. Or will he?
Here is a simple question: Does Frank get what he wants? That is does he get his day in court and the chance to prove his innocence? He does not.
It's easy to miss that in all the toing and froing.
Of course, we might wonder how much he really wants it. Frank is a fan of poetry after all and poetry is firmly in the world of shame and honour. And we might note that while he starts off determined to have his innocence proven, he is rather easily distracted from this.
Here in Chapter 7, we might think, as he does, that he has won Die Vernon to his cause and yet what she actually does is to begin, with the help of Rashleigh!, to plot and scheme in good shame-honour-culture fashion to get Frank's honour restored. (Note "deceive for the sake of the cause" in the list coming this afternoon.)
Most of Chapter 8 is an extended comedy scene in which we see justice held up to mockery.
First good justice/squire Inglewood. Don't miss the bit where Scott tells us how he became justice. That the local nobility, while disdaining the guilt-innocence idea of justice discovered that they needed someone to protect their rights as wealthy landowners against the poor who hunt not for pleasure but for food. So it was agreed that this one would pretend to abandon his Jacobite loyalties so he could be judge.
It's worth reminding ourselves, in that regard, that we are still in England and Scott is making sure that he readers remember that there were Jacobites on both sides of the border.
A point underlined by a great little joke. It turns out that our good friend Morris was much upset by Franks jokes and that has inclined him to think Frank a highwayman. But it gets better when he inquires into the character of the Osbaldistone family and is told that they have been "Papists and Jacobites since the days of William the Conqueror."
This joke is later picked on by Die Vernon who will remind Frank that her Catholic faith, which is held a crime, was the faith of everyone until the recent past.
Chapter 9 sees the re-entry of Mr. Campbell, whoever he is. But do note the rather abrupt switch at the start. If we go back to the scene where we first meet him, we will remember Mr. Campbell speaks the King's English perfectly. Not just his spoken accent but his behaviourial accent and political opinions are meant to make him blend in.
On the opening page of this Chapter, he speaks one sentence of the King's and thereafter can't seem to say four words without lapsing back into the auld Scots tongue. Mr. Campbell's identity does seem rather maleable don't you think? (He is, if you'll pardon the comparison, the Don Draper in this story.)
But he saves Frank from the shame of conviction. If Frank were a deeper thinker he might have noticed that neither Campbell nor anyone else does anything to establish his innocence and he leaves the hallowed halls of justice just as vulnerable to the charge as he was when he went in. I wonder if this will come back to haunt him?
(An aside: Scott is giving us all sorts of hints of the obliviousness of Francis Osbaldistone. He is an unreliable narrator and we have the choice of reading one of two books. The plain sense of his tale or the one between the lines. I daresay that most people who've read this book, even the few who still do today, have chosen the first.)
Later in the chapter, Frank will learn that a whole conspiracy has been mounted to get him off when he learns that a false letter was delivered to get Mr. Joseph Jobson, the one other person determined to see procedural justice maintained, out of the room.
This sets up a nice meeting between Die Vernon and said Mr. Jobson in which we learn that he is not such a comic figure after all but rather a man full of hate for Catholics. There is a deep criticism here of both the treatment of Catholics in the 18th century and of the English justice system. How effective can a guilt-innocence system be if the main participants keep bouncing back and forth between guilt-innocence and shame-honour values the way Jobson does?
Anyway, we wind up with Die Vernon making her three complaints. Frank apparently cannot figure out the thing that makes hers so attractive to him for he has no sympathy for her rebellion against the constraints of woman hood. He also has little sympathy for her Catholicism.
Her third request is that he respect her secrets for she is tied up in a web of secrets. Frank willingly consents to this but Die quickly realizes that he will not keep this promise but praises his intention nevertheless.
Should we be so kind. I do not think it a spoiler to say that Frank is obviously deeply in love with Die Vernon and he hopes to win her love for him. If Eliot Girl were here, she might well ask us if Frank even half way merits this love he hopes to gain. I don't think he does.
Well, he Frank and Sir Walter have 312 pages to either show us how Frank loses Die or to convince us that he someone does earn this love.
Blogging Rob Roy begins here.
Next post will be here.