Chalmers, The Legend
First Section: Chapters 1- 15
1. What is the significance of the novel's title?
2. According to the preface, who is the narrator of this story? What do we learn about him from his own account? Why do you think Scott includes this ostensible narrator?
3. How does the narrator's preface indicate to the reader that this tale may be fictional? Why the elaborate effort to hint that a fiction is history, and alternately, that it is fiction?
4. Why is the opening encounter caused by the stagecoach accident significant to the tale?
5. What do the book's opening scenes suggest about the events and themes of the novel?
6. When does the novel occur? What significance would this have had for Scott's audience?
What popular insurgencies would have occured to their minds?
7. What are the novel's major themes and conflicts thus far, and how are the plots interrelated? How are they related to issues of Scottish nationality and recent history?
8. Can you see evidence in this novel of Scott's training and experience as a lawyer? What are some episodes which present legal perceptions, language, and issues? From what you have read so far, what attitude do you think this novel takes toward issues of law and order? (e. g. in the presentation of Wilson, Robertson, Porteous, Ratcliff, Saddletree)
9. What attitudes toward religion (Quaker, Presbyterian, Dissenting Presbyterian, Anglican, Catholic) can you find in this novel? How is Davie Deans characterized? Which attitudes toward God and one's fellow humans does the narrator seem to approve? Which characters seem truly religious?
10. Do all the female and male characters conform to early 19th century conventions? Are there some unconventional features of Jeannie Deans' character and her courtship?
11. What language do the characters speak? Which characters use Scottish idioms most strikingly and in which contexts? How does this usage affect the tone of the novel?
12. Why do you think Effie is not chosen as the novel's central heroine? What had been the attitude of previous novelists toward women who conceived children outside of marriage? Do you think Scott's audience would have felt some sympathy for her plight?
13. What is distinctive, if anything, about the novel's narrative voice? Is it reliable? Consistent? What hastens the pace of the story?
14. Are there features of this plot which remind you of other pre-1818 works you have read?
15. What is the relation of the Porteous rebellion plot to Effie's plight? Does our attitude toward one affect our attitude toward the other, and if so, why?
16. What are some of the more dramatic scenes of the novel, and why are they effective?
17. Is it significant that Jeannie is pursued by two suitors, of different social stations?
18. Are there features of this novel which remind you themes and attitudes found in Burns' poetry?
19. What seem major contrasts between the works of Scott and Burns, and how do you account for these?
20. Would you describe any of the subplots as conforming to melodramatic conventions? realistic or sentimental?