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The Bride of Lammermoor

A novel by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1819 in the
third series of Tales Of My Landlord. It tells the story of the Ravenswood family, dispossessed of their East Lothian estates through the legal machinations of Sir William Ashton, the Lord Keeper. Old Lord Ravenswood dies leaving his son Edgar to avenge the family's honour. After a chance encounter with Ashton and his daughter Lucy, during which Edgar rescues them from a wild bull, Ashton, a Whig, sees the opportunity of restoring his favour with the Tories by relenting towards the Ravenswood family. His chosen instrument is Lucy, who has fallen in love with Edgar. Any hope of an engagement is dashed by Lady Ashton who arranges a marriage for Lucy with the wealthy Laird of Bucklaw. Ravenswood is sent on a diplomatic mission overseas and his correspondence with Lucy is intercepted. Lucy is married unwillingly to Bucklaw whom she murders on their wedding night; she then dies in a fit of insanity. On his return Ravenswood prepares to fight a duel with Lucy's brother but is accidentally drowned in the quicksands of Kelpie's Flow, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy of doom. Caleb Balderstone, steward to the Ravenswoods, belongs to Scott's gallery of grotesque minor characters, and it is his place in the novel to act as a reminder of the past glories of his master's family. Much of the novel was written while Scott was unwell and taking drugs, and on rereading it in health he disclaimed all knowledge of having written some of the gloomier episodes. The atmosphere, perhaps because of Scott's physical and mental state, is dark, lowering and portent-laden, with violent motifs from Scotland's past, in this case the later 17th century. But beyond the doomed inevitability of the fates of the central characters, Scott drew a finely resolved picture of the passion felt for each other by Edgar and Lucy. The novel was made into an opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, by Donizetti.

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