well I ween it might now be mine own

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Senior Member
Hello all,

In the dialogue between Ivanhoe and Rebecca, after Rebecca explains the figure on the shield, Ivanhoe says he doesn't know anyone who bears such a device and than says "well I ween it might now be mine own." Is he saying that he liked the device so much that he could have had the same if he was fighting right now? Or because he is wounded is he dreaming that he is on the battlefield right now with that particular shield?

(There is a battle going on around the castle where Ivanhoe is taken as a prisoner and wounded. He can not see what's going on outside since he is wounded and can not get up, therefore Rebecca the Jewess is next to the window and telling him what she sees outside.)

"What device does he bear on his shield?" replied Ivanhoe.
"Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the black shield." said the Jewess.
"A fetterlock and shacklebolt azure," said Ivanhoe; "I know not who may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine own. Canst thou not see the motto?"
Many thanks
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I'd think it's highly unlikely that he's saying "That's pretty, I'd like that one": presumably he has a perfectly cromulent device of his own already and is proud of it. However, having glanced through the entire chapter, I'm unclear what he does mean. Possibilities:

    (1) He thinks "That could have been me down there leading the army, instead of whoever's leading it now." (That is, those could have been my arms instead of his.)
    (2) He recognizes the bearer as a usurper - those arms really belong to Ivanhoe by birthright.
    (3) The arms are very similar to his own arms - if Rebecca could tell him the motto it'd enable him to decide how similar.

    (1) requires understanding 'might be' as archaic for 'might have been'; (2) can probably be ruled out by your prior knowledge of the story; and (3) suddenly seemed so unlikely as I began writing it down that I almost didn't.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think the heraldic objects themselves have significance for Ivanhoe. They are manacles, the emblem of the prisoner. He thinks ruefully that they might well be his own emblem since he is (or has been?) a prisoner. I have not read the book, but from previous posts I gather that Ivanhoe was being kept captive..
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