The construction of Scottishness in James Hogg's the Queen's wake : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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James Hogg was a Scottish Romantic, born in 1770 at Ettrick Farm in the Scottish Lowlands. Hogg became known as "the Ettrick Shepherd" as he had worked on local farms from the age of six, having had only six months of formal education. He is probably best known for his novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, however, it is his most famous narrative poem, The Queen's Wake, that this thesis focuses on. This poem, published in 1813, is a successful continuation of the traditions of the eighteenth-century revival of Scottish poetry, following such notables as Ramsay, Fergusson and Burns. Near the beginning of The Queen's Wake, Hogg explains his desire to preserve traditional Scottish songs, through the persona of the Ettrick Shepherd: Alas! Those lays of fire once more Are wreck'd 'mid heaps of mouldering lore! And feeble he who dares presume That heavenly wake-light to relume. But grieved the legendary lay Should perish from this land for aye, While sings the lark above the wold, And all his flocks rest in the fold, Fondly he strikes, beside the pen, The harp of Yarrow's bracken glen. (347-56) The Queen's Wake is a nationalistic poem celebrating the return of Mary Stuart to Scotland from France in 1561. In the poem Hogg creates a narrative framework in which he sets twelve lays, each sung by a different bard, and hence representative of a different region. The poet contrasts these rugged, hardy Scots with an Italian competitor, Rizzio, "that gay and simpering man" (440). This thesis looks at the way in which Hogg uses images and motifs within his descriptions of these bards, and their regions, and within their lays themselves, to construct a national Scottish identity: Not only does Hogg provide appropriate materials for each of the minstrels depending on their regions and backgrounds, but he distinguishes among each singer in character and dress. Each becomes both a type and an individual. (Smith 93) Hogg's twelve minstrels present twelve different points-of-view on the Scottish condition, yet each part is related to the whole through careful repetitions, contrasts, and parallels. Hogg uses various themes such as patriotism, tradition, superstition, nature, fighting and humour throughout The Queen's Wake to indicate that the diverse parts presented by the bards contribute to a composite image of Scottishness.
Hogg James 1770-1835, Queen's wake, 19th century Scottish poetry, History and criticism, Scotland -- In literature