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Written by Jody Perry
The Journey to the Castle As An Allegory of a Pilgrimage
The journey is an allegory for a pilgrimage where the monks and Robin are trekking through sometimes difficult conditions in order to reach their destination. From the beginning they give thanks to God each time they eat and drink. They are also given many tests of their character and fortitude such as having to sleep outdoors in the cold weather and having to avoid being robbed whilst staying at an inn where the clientele is bawdy and nefarious. They always find their way by looking out for either a place of worship or a cross and each time they find their landmark the cloud or most clears allowing them to see the situation clearly similar to the pilgrimage taken by Saul on the road to Damascus.
The Cross As A Motif
The cross is a motif that appears throughout the novel. It represents the way in which Robin learns patience, whittling soft wood to make a small cross to hang above his bed at the monastery. The cross travels with him to his uncle's castle and he hangs it above his bed there also. The cross is also used in a larger way as Robin's crutches are made in exactly the same way as the small cross over his bed and in the same way that the small cross saves his spiritual being and the crutches actually save his physical self.
Churches As A Motif
Churches and other places of worship are a motif throughout the book. Even when Eobin is still bedridden at his family home he is able to ascertain what time of day it was by listening to the bells of St Mary Le Bow Church. He then moves temporarily to the monastery where his entire day follows the pattern of worship and service that the monks' days take. As they travel up north to the castle, their destinations are always marked by churches, as they stay overnight in an abbey, and even when they stop in the open air nature makes them a cathedral out of the leafless trees. They spot the church be t to the castle before seeing the castle itself, and just as the book began with the sound of church bells it ends with the sound of the bell being ring as a way of communicating with Sir Hugh's army.
The Door In The Wall As A Symbol
The door in the walk is a symbol of opportunity that comes from following a course of action with no definite idea of what might happen. It is also used as a lesson to Robin not to get downhearted about his legs being deformed because every door in the wall led to another opportunity. The door was also mentioned by Sir Phillip when Robin was unsure as to what his.duties might be telling him that you never knew where each door might lead. Robin himself also notices this motif.
Ring A Ring O' Roses As A Symbol
During the plague Robin could hear children singing the rhyme Ring A Ring O' Roses, and although it sounds like a harmless ditty about flowers it is actually a symbol of the deaths caused by the plague. The ring of roses and the "pocketful of posies" in the rhyme symbolize the flowers that would hang from the front door of each and every home with residents who had died of the plague; "Atishoo! Attishoo! We all fall down!" is a symbol of the symptoms of the plague and the fact that everyone who caught it "fell down" or died.
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During this time of plague, the monks were busy caring for those who contracted the disease and trying to keep those who hadn't succumbed safe. Some monks are hard at work transcribing and illuminating manuscripts. They also garden and whittle....