Lorna Doone Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 70-page guide for “Lorna Doone” by Richard Doddridge Blackmore includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 75 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Role of Social Class in Romance and Behaviorisms and 17th-Century Misogyny.
Originally published in 1869, R.D. Blackmore’s historical romance, Lorna Doone, remains a critically acclaimed story with several television and movie adaptations. Set in the 17th century during a fraught political climate, the novel centers on the star-crossed lovers, Lorna Doone and John Ridd, as they struggle to be together despite the differences in their social classes and the enmity between their families. The main character, John Ridd, is the narrator, telling his story years later. He makes determined attempts to describe the Exmoor landscape and accurately portray the local dialect.
Exmoor, a rural area at the border of Devonshire and Somersetshire, is home to simple farmers and a family of former-aristocrat outlaws—the Doones. The Doones live in a secluded family compound in a hidden valley, leaving only to rob and occasionally kill. Carver Doone kills John Ridd’s father during a robbery, prompting John to leave school and quickly become the man of the house at a young age. One day, John accidentally stumbles into the Doone’s territory and meets a beautiful young girl named Lorna. Despite that she is ostensibly a Doone and of a much higher social class than him, John is smitten. Seven years later, he returns, and they begin a secret courtship.
Meanwhile, the Doones continue to terrorize the countryside, to Lorna’s great shame, making several powerful and committed enemies. Lorna is set to marry the sadistic heir apparent to the Doone clan, Carver Doone—the same man who killed John’s father. Despite many obstacles, John steals Lorna away to safety. Tensions with the Doones rise and the clans trade attacks. Treasonous plots emerge, and King Charles II dies, leaving his son, the Duke of Monmouth, to fight for the throne against his uncle.
During this tumultuous time, John is separated from Lorna, who is discovered to be of even higher birth than originally supposed. As Lady Lorna Dugal, she is swept away to London, where John cannot follow. John’s life is imperiled after a battle, but by making his case in London, he is both pardoned and reunited with his love. To his great pleasure, Lorna remains steadfast in her desire to marry him. John saves the life of her new guardian/great uncle, and in so doing, earns a knighthood and coat of arms.
After returning home, John makes war on the Doones, as the people have tired of their recent villainy. He leads an attack on Doone Glen that kills all but two of the Doone forces—the Counsellor and Carver Doone, who swears revenge. With the death of her guardian, Lorna gains permission to marry John, though both have a sense of foreboding about the nuptials. At their wedding, Carver shoots Lorna. John sets off for revenge and, after a brief fight during which John is shot in the rib, Carver dies by drowning in a bog. John returns to find that his second cousin, Ruth Huckaback, has saved his beloved Lorna. The two heal and live happily ever after.