1. What is the reaction of members of her family to Effie's fate? Which characters try to help Effie, and what kind of aid does each provide? What are we to make of the contributions of each?
2. On what errand is Reuben bent when he is imprisoned? How may this affect subsequent plot events?
3. To what court examinations does Reuben listen while waiting to be examined? How does the novel portray Ratcliff's character? How is he useful to the plot?
4. How is the theme of madness used in the novel? What have been Madge Wildfire's circumstances and fate? To what extent does the reader sympathize with her?
5. What is added by the introduction of Madge's mother?
6. What is the importance of songs to the story? Why do you think Madge is the vehicle for some of the novel's songs?
7. Which characters speak in "broad" Scots? What are some examples of this speech? To what extent is heavy Scots speech used for humorous effect?
8. How do you think Scott's audience would have responded to Jeanie's refusal to lie under oath? What do you think might have been Scott's own attitude?
9. What use does the novel make of the theme of superstitions?
10. What are some remarks the narrator makes about government and the law?
11. What is significant about the trial scene? What are features of the presentation of Effie?
12. In what ways does the story attempt to show her good character?
14. Are Effie's reactions to her situation consistent?
15. Does her lawyer present her case well? Are there ways she could have defended herself better?
16. From whom does Jeanie ask for help on her journey southwards, and what significance can be ascribed to this?
17. Which gifts will prove most useful for her mission?
18. What is added to the novel by the account of her journey southwards?
19. What is the importance of the encounter with thieves? What does her journey reveal about travel at the time?
20. What is Robertson's view of his past life? What do we learn about his upbringing? What consequences have sprung from his proximity to the Murdockson family? To what causes are ascribed his bad relations with his father?
21. What fatal error does he make in attempting to help Effie?
22. Is any moral embedded in the account of his life?
23. What do you think of the characterization of Robertson/Staunton? Does his presence add interest to the story?
24. What are interesting features of Jeanie's appearance at court? Does she plead her case on its merits, and if not, what arguments does she use?
25. How is the Duke of Argyle presented? (He was an actual historical personage) What seems to be the importance/meaning of his relationship with Jeanie, and their conversations about cheeses, landscapes, people and such like?
26. What is the nature of the pardon she obtains for Effie? What is the significance of the fact that the pardon is not absolute?
27. What circumstances finally bring about the resolution of her family drama, and what political significance does this have?
28. How are the Madge Wildfire/Robertson/Staunton and Butler plots intertwined, and what purpose is served by this?
29. What is the effect of the scene of the death of Meg Murdockson? Of her daughter?
30. In what ways is Jeanie a proper daughter of her father? How does her character differ from his?
31. In what way does this novel seem to comment on the duties of daughters toward fathers?
32. Is Jeanie's independence of character consistent with early nineteenth-century expectations for women? If so, how does the novel soften her traits to render them more acceptable to a conventional audience?
33. What political views is Jeanie shown to have? Religious views? To what extent do you think these reflect those of her creator?
34. What forms of reconciliation occur before Rueben and Jeanie are able to plan their marraige? What past expectations had David Dean had for his daughter's marriage, and are these consistent with his values? Why is he forced to relinquish them?
35. What causes him to be reconciled to accepting Butler as a son-in-law? What changes in his attitudes enable him to adapt to his new situation?
36. What geographical symbolism occurs in the Dean/Butler's family move to the Highlands?
37. What is appropriate about Effie's depature to the south? What are the circumstances of her life after her marriage?
38. What risks does George Staunton incur in searching for his son?
39. What are some ways in which the Highland setting of the book's final section is used to further the plot?
40. Under what circumstances are the sisters first reunited? Why must they part?
41. What are Effie's concerns when she first communicates with her sister again? Why do both she and Jeanie wish her past to remain undiscovered? What part does the Duke of Argyle play in their anxieties?
42. What events increase the Butlers' prosperity? What are their children's names, and eventual fates?
43. Under what circumstances do the sisters again meet, and with what consequences? What are some of the ironies attending Staunton's death?
44. What strange document enables the protagonists to unravel the fate of Effie's child? What final information had Meg Murdockson sent to George Staunton? Under what circumstances does she meet him again?
45. What are some secrets Jeanie fails to tell others? What motivates her silence?
46. Do the main characters receive their appropriate fates at last, and if so, how? (Jeanie, Reuben, Effie, George Staunton) How do their children's fates reflect their parents' lives?
47. If tragedy consists of reversal, recognition, and the unintended slaying of family members (Aristotle), which portions of the action of this tale may be considered tragic?
48. What purpose is served by the use of letters, confessions. broadsides and other interspersed methods of narration (e. g. George Staunton's unusual confession, Jeanie and Effie's letters)?
49. How do issues of child abuse and child slavery appear in the novel?
50. How is contrast and the use of paired character opposites used to structure the novel?
51. What is added to the novel by its final hundred pages? What is the importance of tying up loose ends? Would you describe this as a well-constructed plot, and if so, on what terms?
52. In what way may the novel be said to present the spectrum of Scottish society of its period? Are any topics or classes omitted? Which receive the most favored treatment?
53. What would you describe as the book's final moral (if any)?
54. How should moral dilemmas be resolved, according to the author's world view? What are the attractions and consequences of lawlessness and sexual rebellion?