'Rob Roy' was the most popular of Scott's Scottish romances. Since it concerns an earlier Jacobite rebellion, in 1715, it has been compared to 'Waverley', but unlike in 'Waverley', the rebellion is not central to the plot. it takes place offstage and is really only the pretext for what is an adventure story rather than a tale of politics. The young English hero, Frank Osbaldistone, travels first to the north of England and then to the Scottish Highlands to retrieve money stolen from his father by his villainous cousin Rashleigh, and meets the famous outlaw Rob Roy, often called 'the Scottish Robin Hood'. Despite the title, Rob Roy is not the main character, but his actions drive the plot. He appears out of the shadows (sometimes literally), usually to help Frank, and disappears as quickly. Frank comes to like and respect the 'Highland rogue'. The novel contrasts the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, so near geographically, but worlds apart culturally and economically. Rob Roy carries out his cattle trading (and raiding) and blackmail only forty miles from the centres of commerce and the rule of law, but he is at home in either world. One of the characters explains Highland society to Frank: 'They are clean anither set frae the like o' huz. Never anither law hae they than the length o' their dirks (daggers)'. Scott depicts Rob Roy as a man already out of his time in 1715, in a society that had to change. Scott does not sentimentalise him, but portrays him as an intelligent resourceful man who takes his opportunities no matter which side of the law they fall on. He is summed up: 'The truth is, Rob is for his ain hand; he'll take the side that suits him best; if the deil was laird, Rob wad be for being tenant'. He is one of a number of standout characters. Full of drama, rich language and humour, the novel created Rob Roy's iconic status. Classic Scott.
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