(Note: The quotes I have below from Sir Walter Scott's Waverley and Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets are from the Project Gutenberg editions of those works. These works are free for download at the Project Gutenberg website. I also have links to each of the works below.
Sir Walter Scott's Waverley
Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets)
I was so intrigued after reading Rob Roy that I decided to pick up another book by Sir Walter Scott. So I picked up Waverley I didn't really know the plot for either Waverley or Rob Roy, and I had no idea that they were so similar --
Acutally -- I've been turning this idea around in my head for a while, wondering about it so much. Scott, at the beginning of Waverley, talks about the "plan" of his novel. I've just kept wondering about that word. The word "plan" makes the novel sound so much like a piece of architecture. I'm not sure I really liked the way it sounds.
I don't know why, but I didn't think of the word "plot" the whole time I was criticizing the idea of a "plan." We call the narratives of our stories plots. And a plot isn't too different from a plan, in one sense of each of those words.
Nevertheless, I guess what struck me most about Waverley versus Rob Roy is that, despite the book being, apparently, so "planned," there wasn't as much dramatic movement as there was in Rob Roy. The plots are very much the same. But Rob Roy has much more action.
Sir Walter Scott first began his career as a writer by writing poetry. Before starting as a poet he was, I believe, a lawyer. But a book of his poems made him so famous that he took to writing poetry for at least some of his living. He wrote a number of great poems, including The Lady of the Lake.
But poetry is different from novel writing. I certainly don't understand the subtleties of either art as well as Sir Walter Scott did. I'm just pointing out the fact. In poetry, there is much more of a concern laid on imagery, as well as on the rhythms of the words. The rhythms of the words, of course, have to match the meter of the lines.
But poetry really explores imagery -- emotional as well as visual imagery. And so long passages can be devoted to descriptions and so forth. A novel deals more with "plot," possibly more with "plot" than with "plan." A long poem, even a short poem, is more about "plan" than "plot." If there is more than a quibbling difference between the words.
Waverley, then, I'd guess, is a novel written on a plan rather than on a plot. Especially at the beginning of the book. There are incredibly descriptive passages all throughout the book. But they are extremely long-winded at the beginning of the book.
Again, we have a novel where a hero travels up to the North of England. Actually, Waverley travels all the way into the lowlands of Scotland relatively early on in the book. He goes to the Hall of his uncle Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine.
The description of the grounds of Bradwardine Hall is unbelievably detailed. I'm not even going to pretend that I understood all of it. But the main points that seem to stick in the head of the reader are the wonderful condition of the grounds and the bear emblems on the gates and in the fountains. And as long as these elements are remembered, certain other moments in the story retain their emotional effect.
But, really, the description of the grounds is beyond all of that. It's simply -- emblematic -- to the point of being prose poetry rather than novel writing. It's not bad. In fact in astonishingly beautiful. But it's not easy to read. And it doesn't "hook you in" -- or, it didn't hook me in -- the same way that Rob Roy did.
Sir Walter Scott says, in his introduction to the novel, that he had actually written at least a portion of the first volume of the novel (the novel is divided into three sections, called volumes) about ten years before he completed the novel. Scott didn't really feel comfortable with the work, so he let it go. Then he dug it back up for some reason or another.
So Scott probably wrote the first part of his novel while he was still really refining his poetic style. As he was doing this, the poetic style was probably having a pretty strong effect on this attempt at novel writing. No wonder Scott felt uncomfortable about the novel, then. He was writing it under the strong influence of poetry.
But the imagery that Scott often uses in his novel isn't always so emblematic. Sometimes it's purely image. It's almost painterly. Waverley eventually ends up going to another hall in the Highlands of Scotland, called Glenquannoich.
This is the point where, in my opinion, the imagery of Waverley is at its strongest. There are so many beautiful landscapes described so richly in the text that I almost felt like I was really seein an oil painting in my mind's eye. These moments are far more engaging than the more emblematic moments. The emblematic moments may intend meaning. But the visual moments intend beauty. And if beauty is striking enough, it's always engaging.
I think the moments that are even less engaging than the emblematic moments are the moments where things have to be historically discussed. Everything has to be put in some kind of historical context. I'm sure it's not really the historical context that is so bothersome in these moments. Rather, I think it's a sense of trying to give them meaning.
It's not trying to give meaning -- it's the intention of meaning. There's no meaning for a lot of the stuff, as far as the story is concerned. A broader explanation of the political situation of things would be a lot easier to digest. The more detailed explanation of the historical context only separates the reader from the real drama of the story.
The real strength of Rob Roy, in this sense, is that the history was always a part of the drama. And it was never detached from the desires of the characters. The history was discussed because it was a part of the character's desires. It motivated the characters. It didn't surround them, pack around them.
At the beginning of Waverley, Scott mentions Cervantes' novel Don Quixote. Don Quixote is one of the most famous novels of all time. It centers around a character who is mislead by his sense of romance into a series of misadventures. Scott, however, does not want the reader to think that his character Edward Waverley will follow his sense of romance into a whole series of delusive misadventures.
I think Scott is correct. Edward Waverley is a young man, about twenty years old, I think. His education has been rather random. He's brilliant and he loves literature. So he's indulged by all his tutors. His studies have, thus, become rather aimless and eclectic. And his ideals of the world are tinged by the romantic stories he's read.
But Waverley moves forward through the novel in a very realistic way. Waverley, it is interesting to note, goes into the military, not because he is romantically deluded to be a knight, but because his father believes it might help him advance toward a lifelong career of some kind.
And Waverley experiences very realistic events, and he acts in the world in a very realistic way. However, he is romantically affected by everything around him. Scott is always talking about how some event or another heightens Waverley's sense of romance.
The sense of romance doesn't delude Edward Waverley, like it might delude Don Quixote. Rather, it informs his perceptions, or adds to his sense of beauty or despair in a situation.
But by drawing a parallel between Waverley and Cervantes' Don Quixote, Scott brings to mind -- to my mind, anyway -- another romantic piece of literature: Samuel Butler's poem Hudibras. As Samuel Johnson claims, Samuel Butler intended the poem Hudibras to be a kind of British Don Quixote, with a Puritan for the Don Quixote-type role of deluded knight.
Johnson's major critique of Hudibras was that it was a magnificent, but boring, read. I have a feeling that Johnson has three opinions regarding poetry: either it's completely uncouth (like Cowley and Prior); or it's very enjoyable, but too light and fluffy (like Waller); or it's magnificent, but boring (like Milton and Butler).
However, the boring quality of Milton is different from the boring quality of Butler. Milton is boring because he's too serious. Butler definitely has a sense of fun, according to Johnson. In Hudibras there are, Johnson says, so many lines of poetry that people love to memorize, because they're either so clever or so beautiful.
It's not the sense of fun versus seriousness that makes Butler boring. Instead, it's Butler's lack of a plan -- Butler seemed to have written Hudibras without any real idea ahead of time of how he was going to structure the poem. Indeed, Hudibras was never finished. Johnson, and, I think, some other critics before Johnson's time, believed that, even had Butler lived longer, he would not have finished Hudibras. Instead, the poem would have just sprawled on and on.
I think Johnson expresses this idea in a number of really lovely quotes:
"If inexhaustible wit could give perpetual pleasure, no eye would ever have half-read the work of Butler; for what poet has ever brought so many remote images so happily together? It is scarcely possible to peruse a page without finding some associations of images that was never found before. By the first paragraph the reader is amused, by the next he is delighted, and by a few more strained to astonishment; but astonishment is a toilsome pleasure; he is soon weary of wondering, and longs to be diverted."
"The discontinuity of the action might have been easily forgiven if there had been action enough; but I believe every reader regrets the paucity of events."
"The great source of pleasure is variety. Uniformity must tire at last, though it be uniformity of greatness. ... We love to expect; and, when expectation is disappointed or gratified, we want again to be expecting."
In Sir Walter Scott's Waverley, however, the action is continuous, and there are a decent amount of events. Rather, what breaks up the engaging quality of the story is an overt sense of "planning" and not enough of a dramatic "plot."
I think that one element of this is Sir Walter Scott's desire to be fair to all the characters of the story in Waverley. I think he understands the concept of having villains who are closer to being pure evil than they are to being average people is what we, nowadays, would think of as being stereotypical.
In my opinion, one sense of overplanning in architecture is too much squareness. Some of the Classical style architecture in the United States is, in my opinion, boring, because it is too square, too even. The best American architecture always has a bit of something else to it. If it doesn't, it leaves a person feeling cold and bored. This is the effect of holding too steadfastly to a political ideal as informing a visual art such as architecture. But it is also the effect, simply, of over-planning something.
In the same sense, I think that a lot of the marble-hard moments in Waverley are the result of Scott over-planning. But, interestingly enough, a lot of this over-planning seems to come, not just from the poetic sensibility of planning, but from an ideal of justice informing Scott's work, just as it informs American architecture.
Scott is always trying to balance out his characters, to do them justness, in a kind of Aristotelian sense, of being moderate and balanced. No character can ever be too evil, because that would make him too stereotypical, too much a stock-character, like somebody in the Commedia Dell' Arte.
In one point of the novel, Scott says directly that "it is the object of this history to do justice to all men." He then "does justice" in representing the character of a drummer. He also declares at different points in the novel that he must do Waverley's uncle Bradwardine justice by a correct representation of his character, and that he must do another character, by the name Balmawhapple, justice.
But, as I think most people will agree, there are some people in this world who simply are closer to being purely evil than they are to being average people. And everybody in this world has a tendency, sometimes, to be unbelievably bad and unbelievably good.
Something can happen to somebody, and they'll become a really evil person. Something can happen to somebody, and they'll become an incredibly good person. There's no reason trying to be "just" to that person's character -- or, rather, the real justness is in allowing for the fact that a person can be incredibly bad or good.
If you try to shade or soften out -- or harden and angle out -- the shining good and grimy bad in human character, you'll end up with nothing other than too-square, marble solidness and stolidness. And that's just boring.
But, thankfully, Waverley isn't all about that. In fact, the parts where Scott falters in giving real motivation and actions to his characters -- by letting them be stereotypical, bad, or good -- are often ornamented with moments of picturesque romantic beauty, so that it hardly matters.
Interestingly, in Waverley, there are some overtly posturing moments, where characters, it seems to me, are as stereotypical, or rather caricatured, as you might find in a satyrical newspaper illustration. The greatest example of this is in a dinner that Waverley's uncle Bradwardine throws for all the people in Bradwardine's city of Tully-Veolan.
Each character is intensely caricatured -- this isn't stereotype: it's absolute posturing. There's so much posturing in the passage regarding this dinner that one of the characters, the Bailie Macwheeble, is truly sat at the table almost bent in half! Scott says that Bailie Macwheeble:
"Either out of more respect, or in order to preserve that proper declination of person which showed a sense that he was in the presence of his patron, he sat upon the edge of his chair, placed at three feet distance from the table, and achieved a communication with his plate by projecting his person towards it in a line which obliqued from the bottom of his spine, so that the person who sat opposite him could only see the foretop of his riding periwig."
In the next paragraph, this tendency of Macwheeble's is called both a "position" and a "posture." It's not a stereotype.
Consider this paragraph versus the paragraph in Rob Roy where Die Vernon gives, for Francis' benefit, the character sketches of all her brothers. She's rather merciless in her descriptions of her brothers. And the descriptions are rather stereotypical. But they aren't caricatured postures. They're flesh and blood. The description of Macwheeble is posturing.
After the dinner, the party moves to a public house down the road from Uncle Bradwardine's Hall. At this public house everybody, including Edward Waverley himself, gets way too drunk. Uncle Bradwardine is on the opposite side of the political fence from Waverley. What's worse is that Waverley is a soldier in the army on the opposite side of the political fence from Bradwardine.
Waverley is in King George's Army, which could also be considered a Whig army. Bradwardine, a Scottish Jacobite and a Tory, stands in sentiment for the king in exile, James, and his son Charles Edward, the Chevalier or Prince or Pretender (depending on the political views of the person considering the matter).
So, Bradwardine, who's been keeping his tongue in check all this time, suddenly, under the influence of alcohol, makes a couple spiteful remarks to Waverley. Waverley is still too naive socially to understand that his uncle is trying to insult him. But one of the other members of the party -- I believe it's Balmawhapple, stands up for King George and the Whigs. Bradwardine and Balmawhapple get into a fight, and Waverley himself might get a little scuffed up, too, in the commotion.
But the next day there is a whole sequence of apology, all well meant. There isn't much of a setup for any kind of conflict between people.
During this whole time, in fact, there hadn't been any conflict acting as a driving force for Waverley. Waverley made a pretty rational decision to go into the military. He thought it would advance his career -- his father kind of told him so. But Waverley was getting discouraged by military life. He was too dreamy to be really effective in the detail-oriented aspects. So he took a leave of absence and went to to visit his nearby Uncle Bradwardine.
Bradwardine is a genuinely nice guy. He has a daughter, Rose, who is also quite lovely. She's very intellectual. There isn't even much love interest between Rose and Waverley. Waverley thinks of himself as too superior intellectually to Rose to find her very interesting.
The fight occurs, and that doesn't even bring much conflict. Waverley might stick at the farm forever, if it weren't for the fact that something external happens to cause him to leave. But -- again, in this case, there isn't much conflict in the matter.
A group of cattle thieves have taken two of Bradwardine's best milk cows. Bradwardine knows that this is the effect of not having paid the chieftain Fergus Mac-Ivor his black-mail money. Black-mail, in these days, was a kind of protection payment. If you paid a warrior-chieftain black-mail money, he would protect your cattle. But if you didn't, he would either not protect your cattle, or steal your cattle himself.
So it's assumed that Fergus Mac-Ivor has stolen the cattle from Bradwardine. One of Fergus' top men, Evan Dhu, comes to Bradwardine's house. Bradwardine makes a pledge with Evan Dhu, and Evan Dhu says he'll go to Fergus and get Fergus' assistance in retrieving the cattle. Evan Dhu says that it might be nice to take Waverley with him, up to Fergus' Hall of Glenquannoich in the Highlands. Bradwardine agrees. Waverley is excited to go -- it's not everyday an romantically-inclined Englishman gets to see the romantic setting of a Scottish Highlander's Hall.
Now, compare this with Rob Roy. Rob Roy begins with a very stock-character-esque, very stereotypical, but very *powerful* conflict between Francis and his father regarding Francis' career prospects. This conflict leads to Francis being sent up into Northumberland to live at Osbaldistone Hall with his uncle.
Between this scene and the dinner scene where Francis gets drunk, there are actually a number of very powerful scenes of dramatic conflict -- and even of mystery! Who, after all, is this Rob Campbell, who pops up everywhere when Francis is in danger?
But the dinner scene leads directly into a heightened emotional conflict between the hero, Francis, and the villain, Rashleigh. There is an apology scene. But Rashleigh, the mask-wearing psychopath, wears only a cheap conceit of conciliation for Francis.
Rashleigh heads to London and basically attempts to ruin Francis' father's company, then heads up into Glasgow, Scotland, with documents and a plan he hopes will start a Scottish uprising. Francis is compelled to follow -- but not before he has a chance to twist and torture himself regarding his unrequited love for Die Vernon, whom, Francis assumes, he'll never see again.
Now, from the moment Waverley heads up into the Scottish Highlands, it seems as if he is moving from one painting into another. Sir Walter Scott seems to have a majestically painterly eye. There are some really incredible views. Among my favorites is the view on the lake, as Waverley and Evan Dhu approach the fire-lit cave of Donald Bean Lean.
But these views are relatively empty of conflict. Waverley is allowed an extended vacation. He drifts up into the Highlands, soaking in the beauties of the landscape. He gets up into Glenquannoich and has a wonderful feast with Fergus Mac-Ivor and his men. He meets Fergus' sister Flora, who is incredibly intellectual (having studied with the princess-in-exile herself at St. Germains), and almost as dynamic a personality as Fergus.
Waverley watches Flora walking across a tree-trunk bridge over a couple of cliffs, then listens to her recite poetry in front of a waterfall. These are lush, vivid scenes of painterly glory, bursting with color and captivating beauty. But it's easy -- or it was easy for me -- to let them drift, drift away. Because there's not really any emotional attachment.
Waverley isn't such an interesting character in himself, and he doesn't seem to be in any real trouble. One might fancy that he's terribly in love with Flora. But even if he is, it doesn't seem like any kind of lasting love. And Flora definitely doesn't seem to be in love with him. So Waverley is a nice person to see the world romantically through. But he's not very much of a dramatic character.
From this point onward, I believe, the plots of Waverley and Rob Roy diverge, and Waverley seems to take on a much more engaging and interesting plot, which I summarize below. However, I would say that, still, this plot is driven by story mechanics rather than by conflict. It seems to me to be a mix between an opera and a Classical romance, like the Ephesian Romance.
At a deer hunt, Waverley almost receives a mortal wound. This is the first time Waverley is in anything like real danger. He rests while Fergus and his men go out on some mission. Then Fergus and his men come back.
Waverley receives news that his father is in political trouble, due to the apparently treacherous political affiliations of one of his superiors. And Waverley's commanding officer writes Waverley that any further leave of absence will be considered absence without leave and even treason. So Waverley has to go back down to the lowlands.
Fergus tries to convince Waverley to stay with him and fight for James, the king-in-exile. Fergus himself often works side-by-side with the Chevalier Charles Edward to build up forces for a Jacobite uprising. And Fergus believes that an uprising is finally in the works.
But Edward would rather go back to his military unit. Fergus lets him go, with a warning, though, which turns out to be true, that certain citizens in any Scottish town Edward happens to pass through, now that Edward's commanding officer has put out a warrant for Edward based on leave without absence and possibly treason, will be likely to get Edward thrown in jail.
And Edward does, in fact, get involved in a small fight in a town regarding his identity. He doesn't get thrown in jail, thanks to the kindness of a minister in the town. But he does get hauled off to another small town to go through a trial.
However, on the way to that town, a group of Scottish Highlander's waylays Edward's captors. Edwards is freed. But he is injured when his horse, having been shot, falls on top of him. Edward is taken to a nearby hut, where an old woman and a mysterious young woman heal him of his wounds. A number of days later, Edward is escorted up to the castle where Fergus is waiting -- with the Chevalier Charles Edward.
Edward and Charles Edward are both romantically inclined individuals. Their sympathies align with almost astrological elegance and solar splendor. And Edward suddenly decides that he will, after all, assist Charles Edward and Fergus Mac-Ivor in the Jacobite uprising against King George.
There are preparations for these battles. Edward's Uncle Bradwardine and cousin Rose arrive at Charles Edward's castle for a great pre-battle feast and ball. There is some love conflict, as Edward seems to be trying to win Flora's affections, while Flora is trying to make Rose suitable for Edward. But the chieftain Fergus also loves Rose.
There are a number of battles, which the Scottish Highlanders, to the surprise of the English, win. The Scottish Highlanders seem as if they are actually going to win the uprising. They are planning on working their way all the way down to London, dethroning King George, and reclaiming the throne for King James.
But a number of difficulties arise. First of all, Waverley finds a moral repugnance toward actually killing Englishmen in battle. He is especially hestitant to kill any Englishman who would rank higher than he in battle.
In one instance, Waverley rescues a Colonel Talbot from being killed in battle. This Colonel Talbot is, it turns out, a friend of the Uncle, Everard Waverley, who was Edward's own tutor and benefactor. Waverley eventually secures Colonel Talbot's freedom from Charles Edward so that Colonel Talbot can help his wife, who almost died in childbirth, get restored to health.
But Waverley's dealings with Talbot seem to make Waverley conflicted regarding his actions as a member of the Jacobite uprising. Waverley feels more and more like he should not be fighting in this battle.
This accords with Flora Mac-Ivor's views of Waverley, as a man who is bred to make a wife happy at home -- a domesticated man, and not a Highland Warrior. Flora herself is trying to make Rose Bradwardine that happy wife for Waverley.
These are also problems based on Fergus becoming too pushy and impatient with Charles Edward. Fergus takes it for granted that Charles Edward is already Prince in England, as if his father James were already back on the throne. And so Fergus wants to be given dukedom of a certain land. He also wants Rose' hand in marriage.
Edward himself is a little jealous at the second proposition. But he doesn't think of himself, even now, as being in love with Rose. And Fergus believes that Edward is in love with Flora. Edward has seemed to express this to Fergus. But Flora has confirmed so steadfastly to Edward that she could never be in love with him (she seems, rather, to be in love with Fergus, her brother), that Edward has given up the fight.
Fergus is at first incensed that Edward has given up Flora. He claims that Edward is fickle, and that he is making a mockery of Flora's love for him. Fergus doesn't know, or doesn't believe, that Edward isn't, after all, the object of Flora's affections. Fergus then later hears by rumor that Charles Edward is planning to help Rose and Edward get married.
Fergus doesn't know that Flora herself has influenced Charles Edward to effect this wedding. Fergus, who himself is in love with Rose, thinks that Edward himself has gone behind Fergus' back and influenced Charles Edward to allow a marriage between Rose and Edward.
So now Fergus, already getting a bit too pushy and impatient, sets himself and his clansmen up against Edward. One of his clansmen, Callum Beg, is even more hot-headed than Fergus. And Callum actually tries to shoot Edward dead.
Fergus and Edward, at Charles Edward's behest, manage to patch things up provisionally. But Fergus, as passionate and hot-headed as he is, still harbors a resentment toward Edward. It is not until he receives a package of letters from Flora herself that Fergus knows the whole story regarding Rose and Edward.
Fergus genuinely patches up his relationship with Edward and hopes to fight side-by-side with Edward like he did when the two fought all their winning battles. But Fergus' army is already losing its focus. There are a number of factions developing. And the army is losing its strength.
There is a final battle where Fergus is caught. Edward escapes to a nearby Scottish town and is basically stuck there for the winter. But he manages to strike up a correspondence with Colonel Talbot, who, in London, has remembered Waverley's generous spirit, both in saving his life and granting him freedom.
Colonel Talbot has joined with Waverley's family in efforts to help get Waverley a pardon for actions which would, usually, be considered treasonous and punishable by a terrible death. But until Colonel Talbot and Waverley's family succeed in securing this pardon, Waverley is still a man dangerously at large.
Nevertheless, as the thick snow of winter passes and Edward is enabled to travel the roads again, he heads down to London. Thankfully, Talbot manages to secure Edward's pardon quickly. Edward travels back up into Scotland to find Rose and Bradwardine and propose for Rose' hand in marriage.
Bradwardine, having fought with most of the Scottish on the side of the Jacobites, has found his fortune dissipated. But Edward helps to restore it, with the assistance of Colonel Talbot, as well as money which Edward's recently deceased father has left Edward in his will. Edward marries rose and the two live happily ever after.
Charles Edward has escaped capture and lives in exile. But Fergus, having been captured in war, is himself convicted of treason. Colonel Talbot will not stand up for Fergus, for a number of reasons. But Fergus also won't let himself be stood up for. He admits right out that if he were not executed for treason, he would work once again to start yet another Jacobite uprising.
So Fergus, along with his second-in-command, Evan Dhu, is executed in the horrible style in which traitors were executed in those days. And Flora, who really was, I believe, in love with her brother, goes into France to pass the rest of her life in a nunnery.
There is one last similarity, though, between Waverley and Rob Roy that I'd like to discuss. There are actually a number of very interesting ones. But the most obvious and, to me, most interesting, one is the relationship between Fergus and Flora and the relationship between Rob Roy and his wife Helen MacGregor.
But as well as there being a similarity, there is an interesting contrast here. For, though Fergus and Flora are in some ways a couple, like Rob Roy and Helen, they are obviously not a wedded couple. They are brother and sister.
Helen has driven Rob Roy into his rogue as well as his revolutionary activities. Indeed, she's such a dynamic character that she actually leads the Scottish Highland warriors while Rob Roy is otherwise engaged. Helen drives Rob Roy.
Flora also, in a sense, drives Fergus. Toward the end of the book, she laments that she herself was so focused on revolution that she didn't dissuade Fergus' dynamic personality and brilliant intellect toward broader, more peaceful aims, but rather encouraged his hard-headed revolutionary thoughts into an even more warlike spirit. On the day before Fergus is to be executed, Flora confides in Edward:
"'There is, Mr. Waverley, there is a busy devil at my heart that whispers -- but it were madness to listen to it -- that the strength of mind on which Flora prided herself has murdered her brother!...
"'It haunts me like a phantom; I know it is unsubstantial and vain; but it will be present; will intrude its horrors on my mind; will whisper that my brother, as volatile as ardent, would have divided his energies amid a hundred objects. It was I who taught him to concentrate them and to gage all this on dreadful and desperate cast. ... I spurred his fiery temper, and half of his ruin at least lies with his sister!'"
Edward Waverley attempts to console Flora by telling her that Fergus, even without Flora's prompting, would likely have worked ardently for revolution: it was just the dominant force of his personality. But Flora won't listen to Edward's consolation.
Flora is not as forceful a character as Helen MacGregor. But, at the same time, Fergus doesn't control Flora, either, as much as Helen controls Rob Roy. Fergus believes he can marry off his sister to whomever he pleases, and that his sister will naturally (that is, genuinely) learn to love whomever Fergus marries her off to. But Flora simply will not marry Edward -- because she's in love with Fergus himself.
This incestuous emotional counterbalance may be what creates what Sir Walter Scott sees as a sense of "justice" in his plot. The "justice" is really a sense of squaring off all the action. The relationship between Flora and Fergus has to be squared off, made solid and inactive. And this has, I believe, a negative dramatic effect on the novel. But it has to be this way, morally, for Sir Walter Scott, I'd presume, because Flora and Fergus simply can't be in love with each other: they're brother and sister. It would be immoral.
So, when Flora and Fergus develop from sister and brother, into Helen and Rob Roy, or wife and husband, there can be more of a dynamic relationship. Oddly, though, the force of that relationship has its center in Helen. Rob Roy is a mysterious, dynamic character himself. But Helen truly drives Rob Roy. She is a dangerous female character -- almost a femme fatale, even though Rob Roy lives a long, happy, though one-sided life with her.
As Fergus dies, Flora would be, interestingly, more of a femme fatale than Helen, I'd believe. But Flora doesn't really drive Fergus to his death. Fergus would have gone there, likely, of his own accord. In the meantime, Helen seems to drive Rob Roy to a one-sided life. But it seems to be a sort of happy life.
Now, if I understand her, my favorite contemporary critic, Camille Paglia, has stated that William Wordsworth had an ideal of nature that was based in a kind of beneficent vision of woman. Nature was a benevolent woman figure -- not necessarily a mother figure, but something more like an incestuous sister figure, a kind of sister-wife.
In Wordsworth's vision, man himself is at his best when he, too, is receptive, femininely receptive to the revelations of nature. When man becomes feminine, he opens himself up to the feminine revelations of nature (which somehow have enough masculine power -- who knows from where? -- to affect the observer's feminine receptivity), and nature rewards him with its full beneficence.
This makes Wordsworth's poetry, in my opinion, about as mushy as porridge. And Paglia has the same sentiment, I believe. But, as one can see in Scott's preface to Rob Roy, Scott and Wordsworth were actually friends. Scott actually prints a whole poem on Rob Roy by Wordsworth in the preface to the novel.
But Wordsworth's elegy to Rob Roy is unambiguous in its identification of Rob Roy as a noble man who made himself receptive to the revelations of nature and was thus educated as fully and happily as any man would need to be educated.
Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy, both the "historical" one of the preface and the fictional one of the novel, are very ambiguous characters. And one is certainly never assured that Rob Roy wishes to live his life out on the Highlands, as a rogue and a black-mailer, instead of in society. But Rob Roy is, the fictional Rob Roy is, driven by his wife Helen (the face that launched a thousand ships) to live this life.
The goal of Rob Roy really is the integration of Francis into society -- into male society. Even before the crisis at Francis' father's business, Francis' love interest, Die Vernon, herself encourages Francis to stop worrying all the time about writing poetry and to spend a little more effort in learning how to make the family business run properly. Francis eventually does integrate into society. But he first has to face Rob Roy's life as a contrast to the life of society.
On the other hand, Fergus and Flora aren't ever quite separated from society. Fergus and Flora have been raised and educated with the prince and princess themselves, in St. Germains. I'm not sure what all the details of this are, I'm sorry to say.
In addition, while Rob Roy and Helen were driven into the country through a financial crisis that led to their bankruptcy, Fergus still has his lands, Glenquannoich in Bally-Brough. He has a castle, and he commands the Highland warriors for the Chevalier Charles Edward Stuart himself.
So Fergus and Flora are very connected to a social world. It might not extend southward from Scotland to England. But it probably does extend northward, maybe to Holland, and it definitely extends eastward, to France.
This is largely due to the setting. The Jacobite uprising of 1745, the focal point of Waverley, was a different revolution from the minor rising of, I think, 1715, which is the eventual battle, not even the climactic moment, of Rob Roy. The Jacobite uprising was a more culturally significant conflict than the conflict of 1715. Thus, the characters would need to be more culturally integrated.
However, the characters are also, I would argue, more culturally integrated because, being an incestuous couple, they suffer from a bit of psychological resistance on the part of Sir Walter Scott. This resistance manages to stifle the dynamic unconscious conflicts that would give them a strong dramatic force. But it also manages to make them a bit more cultured, involved in a society at a different stage.