KENILWORTH ( THE BLENDING OF HISTORY AND ROMANCE) : DR.HARESHWAR ROY
Sir Walter Scott is a great novelist. He has been called the father of historical novel in England. In his works we find a more serious and responsible approach towards history. He blended facts and fiction, history and romance. His Kenilworth is also a beautiful blend of history and romance.
It seems that Kenilworth is a historical novel. It is because it deals with historical events and characters. It is set against a historical background. The time of the plot is 1575. The locale is England. The time is that of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The characters bear historical names. Here we have an excellent picture of Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester. The main events are also distilled from history. Above all the spirit of Elizabeth's age is exhibited most artistically and realistically. On the basis of these facts, Kenilworth is categorised as a historical novel.
Though we get historical reflections in this novel, but here we get a number of historical inaccuracies also. The fact is that Scott always treated history with perfect disregard of inconvenient facts and dates. These are many illustrations of this in Kenilworth. The entire story is not factual. He has changed the order of events which never occurred at all. The conclusion of Kenilworth is also mysterious. It is completely different from the historical records. In short, this novel is not a pure history.
It is said that Kenilworth is a history; but it is a romance also. In action and in the treatment of events and characters, it follows the models of romances. Even its setting and background also imitates the models of romances. Thus it is a blend of history and romance. The beginning of the novel has a romantic colouring. Lambourne is a character who has been drawn upon the line of romances. There is a remarkable element of suspense in the entire novel.
Kenilworth is filigree. It is embroidered with silver and gold, love and romance. Here the novelist tries to romanticize everything. He changes history according to his own requirements. His imagination is rich, his narration is easy and his dialogues are interesting. The historical facts have been twisted to accommodate the spirit of romance.
Kenilworth contains convention of romances. Here we get love, hate, intrigue, duels, fighting and violence. Poisons are given and taken. Elopements take place. Villains try to rape girls. Male characters try to win the love of beautiful ladies. The events take place with a dramatic thud. Rich colours are there. The story gains its momentum at the hand of romance. The romantic pathos occupies an important place in the novel. It can be seen in Amy's episode. The novel begins with romantic secrecy. A lover goes out for the search of his beloved.
Scott's description of the various places has also romantic grandeur. His main scenes take place at the spots of considerable interests. These places are Cumnor place, Black Bear Inn, Kenilworth castle and Say's court. These places have been beautifully presented. The castle of Kenilworth has been coated with heavy description. It has an ample porch. The wizards and buskins can be seen there.
Thus Scott's Kenilworth is a hybrid. It is a history and romance both. The novelist has turned this novel into a historical romance by blending fact and fiction. His romanticism is not airy. It is coloured by a strong realistic sense. When this novel deals with lowly life, it is realistic. But the prevailing mood of the novel is romantic with historical bias. It is not a pure history, it is a beautiful blend of history and romance.
About the author:
Dr. Hareshwar Roy, Professor of English at Govt. P.G. College, Satna, Madhya Pradesh, obtained his bachelor and master degrees in English from Patna University Patna, Bihar. He completed his Ph.D. from A.P.S. University Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. His ‘The Diasporic Articulation in the Novels of M.G. Vassanji’ is an incisive book that makes an in-depth study of the novels of M.G. Vassanji who is one of the best known literary members of Indian Diaspora. His research papers (more than 40) have been widely published in reputed literary journals. Currently he is teaching English Literature in Govt. Autonomous P.G. College Satna, Madhya Pradesh. He has attended a number of seminars and conferences. His area of interest is the writing of the writers of Indian diaspora.