Part I: The Editor's Narrative

  1. How is the subject matter of this book related to Hogg's prior interests and history?
  2. How does this book show its provenance as a work of Romantic literature? Can you think of other books with Doppelganger plots?
  3. What are some parallels between the themes of this book and those found in the works of Scott and Burns? (sanctimony and hypocrisy, common speech, crime and discovery, cruel legal punishments, the underclass)
  4. What purpose is served by dividing the novel into two narratives? Why is the editor's account placed first?
  5. What is the effect of the editor's many appeals to history? Why is he so concerned to authenticate his story?
  6. What are some elements of humor in the tale? Some strange scenes? (the wedding night, the tennis game, the street fight, the incident on Arthur's Seat, George's murder, Wringham's discovery of the two women, the court scene)?
  7. What is the effect of the introduction of Scots dialogue? Which characters speak it, and what tone is conveyed?
  8. What is significant about the dates given for the events in this tale? (1689, 1703, 1715) What religious and political splits divide the characters and motivate the bitterness of their reactions?
  9. How do we know the editor's opinions on sectarian religion?
  10. What is the psychological relation of Robert Wringham senior to Robert junior? At what point does the reader begin to suspect something unusual about the former's character?
  11. How do the brothers first meet? How do you explain Robert's reaction to the tennis match, and his failure to wipe away the blood which covers him? What are their other major encounters?
  12. What commentary does the novel make on the state of Scottish society at the time?
  13. What property issues underlie the plot?
  14. Which incidents lead to the uncovering of the crime? What are some unusual features of the portrayal of Bell Calvert, and of the court scene? (Any parallels with Heart of Midlothian?)
  15. What new and important facts do we learn from Bell Calvert's account to Mrs. Logan?
  16. What are some remarkable features of the character and behavior of Robert Wringham senior? When do we first learn something of his appearance?
  17. What are we to make of his shape-changing abilities, including his sometime resemblance to George? His winks at observers?
  18. What testimony finally confirms the murder? How does Robert junior behave when he encounters Bell Calvert and Mrs. Logan in the bushes?
  19. What do you make of Robert's disappearance? Why do you think the editor ends his account with a mention of the heroic deeds of Drummond? Does the ending provide closure?
  20. Which elements of this tale seem most allegorical, and how do you interpret them?
  21. How do you interpret the psychological themes of this novel? In the context of this tale, may some elements of this plot be projections of Robert's mind? How can you tell?