The narrative returns to where it left off at the end of Chapter VII. Cedric, although he does not forgive his disinherited son, arranges for the wounded Ivanhoe to be transported to Ashby as soon as the crowd has dispersed. Rowena tries in vain to persuade Cedric not to be so hard-hearted. Cedric captures Gurth, who had deserted him to accompany Ivanhoe. Gurth, having witnessed his dog Fangs being injured by a lance thrown by Cedric, swears he will never forgive him. As Cedric, Athelstane and their entourage return from the home of a Saxon abbot, where they have been entertained, Cedric muses on his ambitions: he wishes to marry off his ward Rowena to Athelstane, and in doing so revive the fortunes of the Saxons. He is aware that Rowena has no interest in Athelstane and prefers Ivanhoe, which was the real reason for Ivanhoe’s banishment from the family home. Cedric hopes to change Rowena’s mind.
As twilight descends, Cedric and his party enter the forest on their way home, hoping they will be safe from outlaws. They come upon Isaac and Rebecca, as well as a sick man who is being transported on a horse-litter. They are stranded. It turns out that the six bodyguards Isaac hired to accompany them had deserted them. Isaac asks if he can travel with Cedric and his party. Cedric is unwilling, but Rowena persuades him. During this break, Gurth, with the assistance of Wamba, escapes. Within minutes, the travelers are set upon by De Bois-Guilbert and his men, disguised as outlaws. The Saxons are all taken prisoner, except for Wamba, who escapes. He comes upon Gurth, and they are about to go back to help Cedric when they are apprehended by Locksley, who tells them that he will raise up a force to free the Saxon prisoners.
Locksley rounds up his men in the forest. He pays a visit to the hermitage, where the monk and the knight are still singing drinking songs. The drunken friar reveals to the knight that Locksley is the keeper of the forest of whom he spoke earlier. The friar removes his gown and puts on a green cassock and hose. This shows he sympathizes with the outlaws. Locksley explains their enterprise to the knight, and announces that they are to storm the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, where the captives are being taken.
As the kidnappers take their captives to Front-de-Boeuf’s castle, De Bois-Guilbert reveals to De Bracy that he means to carry off Rebecca as his prize. When they arrive at Torquilstone, Front-de-Boeuf’s castle, Cedric and Athelstane are imprisoned in a hall, while Rowena is taken to a different room. Rebecca and Isaac are also separated. While Cedric recalls all the Saxon history that has taken place in the castle, Athelstane is only worried about where his next meal is coming from. They both expect to be ransomed shortly.
Chapter XVIII shows that Cedric, for all his patriotism, is misguided. He banished Ivanhoe to head off a romantic involvement between Ivanhoe and Rowena. Cedric does not want such a marriage because he believes it would not serve the cause of Saxon independence, which is his cherished goal. He wants to arrange a marriage between Rowena, who is a direct descendent of the Saxon king Alfred, and the high-born Saxon Athelstane, even though Athelstane has no leadership qualities and Rowena has no affection for him. In fact, one of the amusing elements in the imprisonment episode is how Athelstane thinks of nothing other than food and drink. Not only does this show that he is unsuited to leading a revival of Saxon fortunes, it suggests that he conforms to the Norman stereotype of the Saxon race: crude, uncivilized people with no culture.
The flaw in Cedric’s position is that he wants to turn the clock back four generations, to when the Saxons ruled. If he were wiser, he would realize that this can never be accomplished. There has to be a merging of the two cultures. Cedric is pursuing a lost cause, and his son suffers because of it.
In these chapters, De Bois-Guilbert reveals himself as a man with few honest principles, and certainly none that his Order would expect him to possess. Not only are his actions disgraceful for a man supposedly devoted to the ideal of chivalry, they are also outlandish. It is difficult to grasp today the shock which the Christian world would feel at the notion that a Knight Templar (a man, incidentally, who is forbidden to marry) would kidnap and then elope with a Jewess. De Bois-Guilbert represents Scott’s portrayal of the rottenness at the heart of the medieval chivalric ideal. He may on the surface be a respected knight—but look how he behaves. The same goes for that other representative of chivalry, De Bracy.