1. Who is the tale's ostensible narrator? Why doesn't he introduce himself until later on?

2. What effect does his occupation have on the way the plot is structured, the values presented, and on our final reaction to the tale?

3. How does the fact that the tale is told after the fact by a Scots lawyer who was visiting England affect the reader's sense of his reliability?

4. What is the effect of the repeated use of Scots words which have to be explained? What language or culture is the implied reader expected to identify with?

5. What do we first learn about Robin Oig M'Combrich? Why is it important that we learn about his projects and ambitions? What position does he hold within his own culture?

6. By contrast, what are some traits of Harry Wakefield? On what grounds is he respected within his own culture?

7. What are some cultural differences which the tale portrays? Do you think these are valid description, or based to some degree on stereotypes? E. g., do you feel the narrator presents an accurate view of the manners and character of Highland Scotsmen and northern Englishmen?

8. What does the tale reveal about the society in which Harry Wakefield and Robin Oig M'Combich lived?

9. How does the relationship between the two men affect the outcome and meaning of the tale? What causes their falling-out?

10. What concatenation of events causes the final outcome? What changes in the pattern of circumstances or the character of the participants might have prevented the fatal ending?

11. What are some ironies in the sequence of events?

12. What do you make of the incident in which Robin's elderly relative foretells the outcome? Does he believe her? Is the reader expected to believe her?

13. What famous literary antecedent is evoked by this scene?

14. Why does her intervention cause a different outcome than she had hoped?

15. Is the world of the story heavily gendered? What role do women attempt to have, and do they succeed?

16. For whom does the reader have most sympathy, and why? Is this sympathy consistent with the tale's ending and final judgements?

17. Can you comment on the tale's use of allusions, tone and language? What are some assumptions the narrator expects us to share?

18. To what extent does this tale have the features of classical tragedy?

19. In addition to the character of the protagonists, what are some actions and cirumstances which helped cause the tragedy?

20. Does the tale present a case for cultural determinism?

21. What is added by the conclusion telling of the legal outcome? By Robin's last words?

22. What do the reasons for the judgements of judge, narrator, and jury tell about social concerns at the beginning of the nineteenth century?

23. Do you believe that Robin deserved execution, and if not, why not? How might this case have been adjudicated in a contemporary U. S. court?

24. Is this a well-told story? Why might it especially have appealed to 19th century readers?