The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

by

John Fowles

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Sarah, the titular French Lieutenant’s Woman, is modeled after the trope of the mysteriously alluring woman who often tempts the male protagonists of Victorian novels. Her motives are always murky, and her actions are unexpected. Her father was a farmer who gave her an education above her station, which means that she doesn’t fully belong to either the lower class or the middle class. She’s chiefly characterized by her loneliness and her status as an outcast, which ostensibly came from her improper liaison with a French lieutenant. However, it becomes clear that she has manipulated people’s perception of her precisely in order to be an outcast, because having already broken all the rules of society gives her a sense of freedom. Sarah is always deceiving Charles, and her web of lies pulls him in and tangles him up. Though her motivations never become entirely clear, it seems that she craves, above all, the freedom to be her authentic self and control her own destiny without any interference from society. She can certainly be read as a feminist character, considering that she denies the sexual and moral restraints put upon women at this time and refuses to let Charles act out his savior fantasies upon her. Furthermore, she asserts her ability to live as a single woman, even with an illegitimate child.

Sarah Woodruff Quotes in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The The French Lieutenant’s Woman quotes below are all either spoken by Sarah Woodruff or refer to Sarah Woodruff. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of The French Lieutenant’s Woman published in 1998.
Chapter 10 Quotes

Charles did not know it, but in those brief poised seconds above the waiting sea, in that luminous evening silence broken only by the waves’ quiet wash, the whole Victorian Age was lost. And I do not mean that he had taken the wrong path.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

In other words, to be free myself, I must give him [Charles], and Tina, and Sarah, even the abominable Mrs. Poulteney, their freedoms as well. There is only one good definition of God: the freedom that allows other freedoms to exist. And I must conform to that definition.

The novelist is still a god, since he creates...; what has changed is that we are no longer the gods of the Victorian image, omniscient and decreeing; but in the new theological image, with freedom our first principle, not authority.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff, Mrs. Poulteney
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Darwinism, as its shrewder opponents realized, let open the floodgates to something far more serious than the undermining of the Biblical account of the origins of man; its deepest implications lay in the direction of determinism and behaviorism, that is, towards philosophies that reduce morality to a hypocrisy and duty to a straw hut in a hurricane.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Charles, as you will have noticed, had more than one vocabulary. With Sam in the morning, with Ernestina across a gay lunch, and here in the role of Alarmed Propriety... he was almost three different men.... We may explain it biologically by Darwin’s phrase: cryptic coloration, survival by learning to blend with one’s surroundings—with the unquestioned assumptions of one’s age or social caste. Or we can explain this flight to formality sociologically. When one was skating over so much thin ice—ubiquitous economic oppression, terror of sexuality, the flood of mechanistic science—the ability to close one’s eyes to one’s own absurd stiffness was essential. Very few Victorians chose to question the virtues of such cryptic coloration, but there was that in Sarah’s look which did.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

It was as if the woman had become addicted to melancholia as one becomes addicted to opium. Now do you see how it is? Her sadness becomes her happiness. She wants to be a sacrificial victim, Smithson. Where you and I flinch back, she leaps forward. She is possessed, you see.... Dark indeed. Very dark.

Related Characters: Dr. Grogan (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

“I understand.”

...“You cannot, Mr. Smithson. Because you are not a woman. Because you are not a woman who was born to be a farmer’s wife but educated to be something... better.... You were not born a woman with a natural respect, a love of intelligence, beauty, learning... I don’t know how to say it, I have no right to desire these things, but my heart craves them and I cannot believe it is all vanity.”

Related Characters: Charles Smithson (speaker), Sarah Woodruff (speaker)
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

I did it so that people should point at me, should say, there walks the French Lieutenant’s Whore.... So that they should know I have suffered, and suffer, as others suffer in every town and village in this land. I could not marry that man. So I married shame.... It seemed to me then as if I threw myself off a precipice or plunged a knife into my heart. It was a kind of suicide. An act of despair, Mr. Smithson. I know it was wicked... blasphemous, but I knew no other way to break out of what I was.... What has kept me alive is my shame, my knowing that I am truly not like other women.... Sometimes I almost pity them. I think I have a freedom they cannot understand. No insult, no blame, can touch me. Because I have set myself beyond the pale. I am nothing, I am hardly human any more. I am the French Lieutenant’s Whore.

Related Characters: Sarah Woodruff (speaker), Charles Smithson
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

A remarkable young woman, a remarkable young woman. And baffling. He decided that that was—had been, rather—her attraction: her unpredictability. He did not realize that she had two qualities as typical of the English as his own admixture of irony and convention. I speak of passion and imagination. The first quality Charles perhaps began dimly to perceive; the second he did not. He could not, for those two qualities of Sarah’s were banned by the epoch, equated in the first case with sensuality and in the second with the merely fanciful. This dismissive double equation was Charles’s greatest defect—and here he stands truly for his age.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 47 Quotes

In looking down as he dressed he perceived a red stain on the front tails of his shirt.

He had forced a virgin.

...She had not given herself to Varguennes. She had lied. All her conduct, all her motives in Lyme Regis had been based on a lie. But for what purpose. Why? Why? Why?

Blackmail!

To put him totally in her power!

And all those loathsome succubi of the male mind, their fat fears of a great feminine conspiracy to suck the virility from their veins, to prey upon their idealism, melt them into wax and mold them to their evil fancies... filled Charles’s mind with an apocalyptic horror.

...She was mad, evil, enlacing him in the strangest of nets... but why?

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 354
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 58 Quotes

When he had had his great vision of himself freed from his age, his ancestry and class and country, he had not realized how much the freedom was embodied in Sarah; in the assumption of a shared exile. He no longer much believed in that freedom; he felt he had merely changed traps, or prisons. But yet there was something in his isolation that he could cling to; he was the outcast, the not like other men, the result of a decision few could have taken, no matter whether it was ultimately foolish or wise.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 427-28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 60 Quotes

“You do not understand. It is not your fault. You are very kind. But I am not to be understood.”

“You forget you have said that to me before. I think you make it a matter of pride.”

“I meant that I am not to be understood even by myself. And I can’t tell you why, but I believe my happiness depends on my not understanding.”

Charles smiled, in spite of himself. “This is absurdity. You refuse to entertain my proposal because I might bring you to understand yourself.”

“I refuse, as I refused the other gentleman, because you cannot understand that to me it is not an absurdity.”

Related Characters: Charles Smithson (speaker), Sarah Woodruff (speaker)
Page Number: 452
Explanation and Analysis:

And perhaps he did at last begin to grasp her mystery. Some terrible perversion of human sexual destiny had begun; he was no more than a footsoldier, a pawn in a far vaster battle; and like all battles it was not about love, but about possession and territory. He saw deeper: it was not that she hated man, not that she materially despised him more than other men, but that her maneuvers were simply a part of her armory, mere instruments to a greater end.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 453
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 61 Quotes

He... has already begun... to realize that life, however advantageously Sarah may in some way seem to fit the role of Sphinx, is not a symbol, is not one riddle and one failure to guess it, is not to inhabit one face alone or to be given up after one losing throw of the dice; but is to be, however inadequately, emptily, hopelessly into the city’s iron heart, endured. And out again, upon the unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.

Related Characters: Charles Smithson, Sarah Woodruff
Page Number: 467
Explanation and Analysis:
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The French Lieutenant’s Woman PDF

Sarah Woodruff Character Timeline in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The timeline below shows where the character Sarah Woodruff appears in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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...woman. Ernestina guesses that she must be the woman nicknamed Tragedy. The fishermen call her the French Lieutenant’s Woman . Ernestina wants to go back, because the woman is a bit mad, but Charles... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...British Empire. However, among her class, she’s renowned for her charity because she took in the French Lieutenant’s Woman . (full context)
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...idea. Perhaps something like malice makes him return to the drawing room, where he suggests Sarah Woodruff. (full context)
Chapter 6
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...she always smells a bit like mothballs. After the vicar suggested that she take in Sarah Woodruff, she said she didn’t know her. The vicar wondered what would have happened if... (full context)
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The vicar explained that Sarah’s father was a respected farmer who gave her a good education. When he died, she... (full context)
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...French lieutenant recovered, he went to Weymouth to find passage back to France. Soon after, Sarah quit her position. Mrs. Talbot couldn’t find out why. Sarah joined the Frenchman in Weymouth,... (full context)
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...letter of reference from Mrs. Talbot, though she disapproved of Mrs. Talbot’s lenient attitude towards Sarah. The vicar brought Sarah for an interview, and Mrs. Poulteney was pleased to see how... (full context)
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When Mrs. Poulteney asked Sarah about the French lieutenant, she refused to talk about him. She owned no books, not... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Sarah is the last person to list reasons for her actions. At first she couldn’t decide... (full context)
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Sarah’s intelligence would not show up in modern tests, as it is not analytical. Instead, it... (full context)
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Sarah’s insight, along with her education, have cursed her life. She went to a female seminary... (full context)
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Sarah’s father sent her to school because he was obsessed with his ancestry. Many generations ago,... (full context)
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...is walking down the shore, Mrs. Poulteney makes a list of pros and cons about Sarah. First, Sarah has created a happier atmosphere among the servants, as none have been fired... (full context)
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The second item on the list would be Sarah’s voice. Mrs. Poulteney demands that her servants attend frequent religious services, some of which she... (full context)
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Sarah is very good at taking on small household responsibilities, and on Mrs. Poulteney’s birthday Sarah... (full context)
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On the other side of things, Mrs. Poulteney is irritated that Sarah goes out alone. She originally had one afternoon free every week, but after she was... (full context)
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Furthermore, Sarah can’t always be present when there are visitors. Mrs. Poulteney wants everyone to see how... (full context)
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The worst thing about Sarah is that she still seems attached to the French lieutenant. Mrs. Poulteney has repeatedly tried... (full context)
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Sarah always used to take the same walk to a terrace overlooking the sea, then go... (full context)
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Mrs. Poulteney allowed Sarah to walk by the sea sometimes, but not always, and not to stare. Sarah generally... (full context)
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...Mrs. Fairley came to Mrs. Poulteney, saying that she had to tell her something about Sarah because it was her duty. It seemed there was something truly awful to relate. Then... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...girl he slept with in Paris. Moving to see her face better, he realizes it’s the French Lieutenant’s Woman . Her hair is loose, and he sees that it’s richly reddish. Her skin is... (full context)
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Though Charles tries to step back, Sarah sees him and scrambles up. He bows to her, and she looks shocked and slightly... (full context)
Chapter 11
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At about the same time of Charles and Sarah’s meeting, Ernestina takes out her diary and turns to her bland entry from that morning.... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Charles is about to return to the path when Sarah appears out of the woods and goes on her way towards Lyme. Charles asks whether... (full context)
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Charles hails Sarah and she turns, surprised. Again, her face strikes Charles and draws him in. He apologizes... (full context)
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...where Ernestina is lying. He tells her all about his day, omitting his encounter with Sarah, since Ernestina has made it clear that she doesn’t like talking about her, both on... (full context)
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It still must be explained why Mrs. Poulteney was so horrified to hear that Sarah was walking in Ware Commons. In short, this is where people go to be in... (full context)
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On the evening that Mrs. Fairley reported Sarah’s movements to Mrs. Poulteney, the lady was waiting for Sarah when she returned. It was... (full context)
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...built up a fantastical picture of Ware Commons as the site of countless sexual abominations. Sarah said that she simply sought solitude since she couldn’t go to the shore anymore, and... (full context)
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Sarah dispassionately read the Bible passage that Mrs. Poulteney had marked for her, about the undefiled... (full context)
Chapter 13
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The narrator doesn’t know who Sarah is, or where she comes from. His characters have never existed outside of his mind.... (full context)
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The narrator meant to reveal everything about Sarah at this point, but now that he’s watching her stand at her window, he realizes... (full context)
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The narrator told Charles to return immediately to Lyme Regis when he left Sarah on the cliff, but instead he went to the Dairy. The reader might protest that... (full context)
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Sarah cried but didn’t kill herself, and she continued to frequent Ware Commons. It was clear... (full context)
Chapter 14
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When Mrs. Tranter, Ernestina, and Charles are announced, Sarah makes to leave, but Mrs. Poulteney makes her stay. She wants to embarrass Ernestina and... (full context)
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Mrs. Tranter greets Sarah and quietly asks her to come see her after Ernestina has left. Sarah’s reserve and... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...him go fossil hunting for the afternoon. He returns to the bluff where he saw Sarah, because he’d noticed piles of flint where he might find fossils. The newly intense love... (full context)
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Eventually Charles climbs the bluff again to rejoin the path, and he sees Sarah coming towards him. They stand and look at each other, Charles smiling, Sarah looking suspicious.... (full context)
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Charles can tell that Sarah wants him to leave, but he’s determined not to. Her eyes show independence, a dislike... (full context)
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Sarah says she didn’t know Charles was here, and she turns to go. Charles asks if... (full context)
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Charles doesn’t think it was necessary for Sarah to hide, but she says bitterly that being seen with her could ruin his good... (full context)
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Sarah walks to the edge of the cliff. When she turns she looks at Charles very... (full context)
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Charles admits that he’s heard Sarah is mad, but he believes only that she’s punishing herself for her past, and that... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...begins, and Charles can examine his conscience. He’s become rather obsessed with the mystery of Sarah. He meant to tell Ernestina and Aunt Tranter, in strict secrecy, about his meeting with... (full context)
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Charles begins to feel sorry for himself, and his mind conjures up images of Sarah. He realizes that he’s attracted to her, specifically to some emotion or possibility that she... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Over the next two days, Charles avoids thinking about paleontology or Sarah. But then Ernestina gets a migraine, so he has a free afternoon. It’s a dull,... (full context)
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Sarah is standing by the tunnel of ivy. Charles almost feels frightened that she appeared so... (full context)
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To Charles’s surprise, Sarah takes two excellent tests out of her pockets. She offers them to him, and when... (full context)
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Charles asks whether Sarah has considered his suggestion to leave Lyme. She implies that she would become a prostitute... (full context)
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Sarah says that Charles is an educated and well-traveled gentleman, whereas the other people around her... (full context)
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Women do not contradict men’s opinions the way that Sarah has just done. She seems to be assuming that she’s equal to Charles. He feels... (full context)
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Sarah says she wants to tell Charles what happened to her the previous year. He falls... (full context)
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Charles thinks Sarah is threatening him with scandal, but she denies it. She is filled with despair and... (full context)
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Sarah asks that Charles meet her for just an hour. She says that she would do... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...than his is. He’s aware that this sentiment is inconsistent with his own conventionality towards Sarah earlier. He tells himself that he’s taken her too seriously. He’s particularly attentive to Ernestina,... (full context)
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...he thinks it’s more important to study the living than the dead. Charles brings up Sarah, saying that Dr. Grogan must know more about her than he does. Dr. Grogan says... (full context)
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Grogan says he went to see Sarah ten months earlier. He could easily tell that she had melancholia, and he believed it... (full context)
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...as though she was addicted to melancholia and found satisfaction in it. Grogan thinks that Sarah similarly wants to be a victim. Charles asks whether Sarah has confided in anyone, but... (full context)
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At this moment, Sarah is asleep in bed. Her face looks peaceful, and her arm is resting over the... (full context)
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Sarah knows nothing about lesbianism, either, but she believes sex can bring pleasure. She began sleeping... (full context)
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One night, Sarah heard Millie weeping and went to comfort her. It was cold, and Sarah got into... (full context)
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...people. Walking home, Charles feels naturally selected to understand the common mass of people—except for Sarah. (full context)
Chapter 20
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Sarah doesn’t look around as Charles approaches through the tunnel of ivy. It’s a beautiful day,... (full context)
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Charles says it is only luck that he is rich and Sarah poor. He plans to be sympathetic to her, but to maintain a distance between them.... (full context)
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Sarah says she’s good at finding solitude, and she offers Charles the seat against the tree.... (full context)
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Charles says he won’t judge Sarah too harshly. She hesitates, then begins her confession. She says the Frenchman’s name was Varguennes.... (full context)
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Sarah says Varguennes was handsome, and no one had ever flirted with her the way he... (full context)
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Charles says he understands, but Sarah says he can’t, because he’s not a woman who was educated to move up in... (full context)
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Charles urges Sarah to continue her story. Varguennes recovered, and he declared his love for her. They talked... (full context)
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Sarah says that Varguennes left to take a ship from Weymouth, but he told her he... (full context)
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Sarah says she made excuses to Mrs. Talbot and went to Weymouth. She doesn’t know how... (full context)
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Sarah knows she should have left immediately, and she can’t really explain why she didn’t. She... (full context)
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Charles reminds Sarah that he didn’t ask for this confession. She says she wants him to understand why... (full context)
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Charles only somewhat understands what Sarah means. He can sympathize with the pain of being a governess and letting Varguennes dupe... (full context)
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...at least, try to access nature and sexuality, but they idealize it. Because of this, Sarah’s openness seems idealized to Charles; it’s strange because it seems unrealistic. (full context)
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Charles stares at Sarah, then sits again, feeling as though he’s just stepped back from a cliff edge. Clouds... (full context)
Chapter 21
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After a minute Sarah seems recovered. She asks if she can finish her story. Varguennes left the next day,... (full context)
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Charles remembers Dr. Grogan’s comment about patients who refuse to take medicine. He says that Sarah’s intelligence should allow her to overcome her circumstances. But before he can finish, she stands... (full context)
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Charles says that Sarah must leave Lyme. She replies that she would be leaving her shame behind, which she... (full context)
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Sarah compares herself to the hawthorn tree, saying that it only offends people if it’s in... (full context)
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Sarah asks again whether Charles thinks she should leave. He says she must, and her friends... (full context)
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Sarah leads the way down the bluff. Charles feels slight regret at the idea of not... (full context)
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Sarah stands against a tree, and Charles looks through the leaves to see Sam and Mary... (full context)
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Sarah’s smile is incredibly complex; it seems like she’s been waiting for the right moment to... (full context)
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After several moments, Sarah lowers her eyes, and Charles sees that he’s about to fall over a cliff. He... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...feel exhilarated. He’s confident that his motives have been good, and he’s managed to help Sarah. Now, of course, he must remove himself from her situation. If he hadn’t been sure... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Charles also doesn’t guess what happened to Sarah when they parted the afternoon before. She hesitated at the fork where she usually took... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...and asks what’s happened while he was gone. Ernestina reveals that Mrs. Poulteney has fired Sarah. Charles is shocked. Aunt Tranter explains that it happened the previous night, and this morning... (full context)
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Ernestina says that Sarah should never have been employed by such an awful woman as Mrs. Poulteney. Charles asks... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...thinks of how to phrase a note to Dr. Grogan offering his help in finding Sarah. When he gets to his sitting room, he finds a note from her, asking him... (full context)
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...Soon the hostler knocks on the door, bringing a note from the boy, who said the French Lieutenant’s Woman sent it. Sam winks at the hostler as he leaves. Charles says that he’s trying... (full context)
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When Sam leaves, Charles opens the note. Sarah begs him to help her, saying she will be praying all night that he will... (full context)
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Charles paces angrily, and when he stops at the window he remembers what Sarah said about thorn trees walking down the street. He goes to look at his face... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...word because he has guessed who Charles is supposedly trying to help. Mary has mentioned Sarah to him, and Charles is acting strangely. Sam taps his nose. He’s like a rat... (full context)
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...gave him. Charles looked at the picture of her and saw a slight resemblance to Sarah. Both Sarah and Mrs. Tomkins are separate from general womankind. Charles could tell that Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Charles reveals that he’s received a note from Sarah. He tells Dr. Grogan the truth about his meetings with her, leaving out his attraction... (full context)
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Dr. Grogan goes to send the letter, then asks whether Charles has any idea where Sarah is now. He doesn’t, and Dr. Grogan says Charles can’t risk meeting her the next... (full context)
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Dr. Grogan imagines himself in Sarah’s shoes and reviews her case, saying she’s a smart, emotional woman who resents the world... (full context)
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Charles asks about Dr. Grogan’s accusation that Sarah meant to be fired. The doctor says that he was called to Mrs. Poulteney’s house... (full context)
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Charles can’t believe Sarah would act this way. Dr. Grogan says that’s because he’s almost in love with her.... (full context)
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Charles swears that nothing improper has happened between himself and Sarah. Dr. Grogan believes him, but asks whether he wants to hear, see, or touch her.... (full context)
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...him what to do, and Grogan says he needs to hear his real feelings about Sarah. Charles says he can’t understand them. He doesn’t love her, but he feels possessed by... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...four in the morning, Charles is wide awake. He opens a window and wonders where Sarah is. He feels very guilty and begins to suspect that Dr. Grogan will tell everyone... (full context)
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Charles paces his room, wondering if Sarah is, after all, brave for facing up to her sin and now in need of... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...Charles sees it as the chaos that comes when order is torn away. He’s like Sarah; he can only envy the wren’s happiness in this perfect world, but he can’t feel... (full context)
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...approaches nervously. The door is closed, and he looks through a window but doesn’t see Sarah. He waits a few minutes, then finally opens the door. Hay fills three stalls, and... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Sarah had gotten home before Mrs. Fairley. When she went to her room for a few... (full context)
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Sarah demanded to know why she was being dismissed. Mrs. Poulteney said she would have her... (full context)
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Sarah opened the door quickly and motioned Mrs. Fairley inside, who accused Sarah of murder. After... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Charles finds Sarah sleeping in the barn, curled up with her head on a scarf. For a moment... (full context)
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Charles is worried they might be seen, so they go into the barn. Sarah confirms that she spent the night here. Charles tells her that Mrs. Poulteney is better,... (full context)
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Sarah looks at Charles passionately, and she kisses his hand. He snatches it back, telling her... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...as astonished to see Charles as he is to see them. They’re all frozen until Sarah appears briefly in the doorway, and Sam’s mouth falls open. Charles demands to know what... (full context)
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Charles decides that he has acted in a way that could be hurting Sarah, so he returns to the barn. She’s standing by the window. Charles asks her forgiveness... (full context)
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Charles tells Sarah that certain people want to put her in an asylum, so she shouldn’t return to... (full context)
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Charles doesn’t want to seem ashamed, so he invites Sarah to walk back to the path with him, which she does. When they reach it,... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...her what he wants. But he feels terribly guilty for desiring her now, after kissing Sarah. He frees himself and leaves. (full context)
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...to prove it’s gold, just like being on the Undercliff proves that whatever Charles and Sarah were doing was sinful. But what could a country virgin know about sin? (full context)
Chapter 36
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The door opens, and Sarah enters. She arrived several days before. The name of the hotel was joked about at... (full context)
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Sarah lights a lamp and loosens her hair. She lifts her bag onto the table, removes... (full context)
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Charles has given Sarah ten pounds, and it has changed her attitude towards the world. She counts the money... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...good idea, but he thinks he should get out of the carriage. Suddenly he sees Sarah’s face, and he realizes that he needs to sleep with a woman. He looks at... (full context)
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...stop. The prostitute appears at the door. Charles realizes that she doesn’t actually look like Sarah, but there’s something vaguely similar in her face. He instructs her to tell the driver... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...and one from Lyme. He opens a letter from Grogan. When Charles returned after meeting Sarah, he sent Grogan a letter in which he pretended to still be in complete agreement... (full context)
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...so that he’ll have enough money to give Sam. If Charles gets too involved with Sarah, it might ruin Sam’s prospects. (full context)
Chapter 43
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...through with his marriage to Ernestina, though he never really doubted he would. The prostitute Sarah has stood in for Sarah Woodruff, and so ended his relationship with her. Even so,... (full context)
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...he feels like he needs to relish the last of his solitude. He thinks of Sarah as a symbol of all of his lost freedoms. He knows he’s just a fossil... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...conventions and surrender to one’s fate. Charles admits he has to make a confession about Sarah, saying that “the French Lieutenant’s Woman” is a better name for her than “Tragedy.” He... (full context)
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The story ends here. The narrator doesn’t know what happens to Sarah, but Charles never sees her again. He and Ernestina have, perhaps, seven children. Sir Robert... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...fact decided to go through with his marriage. However, he’s also obsessed with the letter Sarah sent. Sending only her address seems so completely her. It also makes Charles choose, and... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...the hotel, Charles knocks on an open door and finds Mrs. Endicott. He asks after Sarah, and Mrs. Endicott says she twisted her ankle on the stairs but won’t see a... (full context)
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Charles follows the maid to Sarah’s room and finds her sitting by the fire with her feet up, her legs covered... (full context)
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Sarah invites Charles to sit down, which he does. He asks if she’s given Mrs. Tranter... (full context)
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As Sarah wipes away tears, Charles feels an extreme sexual lust. He suddenly realizes that he feels... (full context)
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Sarah’s eyes look grateful and worried and make it clear that she’s waiting. She seems lost.... (full context)
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Sarah seems almost to have fainted. Charles carries her into the bedroom and throws her on... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Charles and Sarah lie silently. Charles feels horrified; everything he knows has been destroyed. He’s vaguely aware of... (full context)
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Sarah says that Charles can’t marry her, but he says he must in order to preserve... (full context)
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Sarah says she only wants Charles to be happy, and now she knows he has loved... (full context)
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...sees a red stain on his shirt. He suddenly realizes that he has just taken Sarah’s virginity. She lied about sleeping with Varguennes, and everything she did in Lyme was based... (full context)
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This time, Charles believes Sarah when she says she’s not worthy of him. She admits that when she went to... (full context)
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Sarah tells Charles to leave, but he doesn’t. She sees his worry in his face and... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...for his selfishness, his dishonor, his lack of faith. But as he speaks he sees Sarah’s face as the Virgin Mary in her sorrow. He sits up and stares at the... (full context)
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...between himself and Christ. Charles has been deceived, and he doesn’t know why. He doubts Sarah’s love. He thinks he must keep his vow to Ernestina, though he’s already broken it... (full context)
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The dialogue continues. Sarah loves only one thing more than Charles, and she has given it to him, but... (full context)
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...not on the cross. In the past, he’s almost thought of himself as crucified on Sarah, but now she seems to be next to him. Suddenly he realizes their purpose is... (full context)
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...thinks of Sir Robert. He knows that his uncle would blame himself if Charles married Sarah. He imagines Sarah triumphing over his uncle’s wife. He imagines traveling Europe with Sarah. This... (full context)
Chapter 49
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A modern man would have returned immediately to Sarah, but Charles feels he must end his other obligations first. He begins to see why... (full context)
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...at least two minds. Walking back to his hotel, he thinks about what he’ll tell Sarah to make her confess that she needs him. Sam is standing at the door of... (full context)
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Charles now writes a letter to Sarah. He says he feels both that he knows her intimately and that he doesn’t know... (full context)
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...and unique. Furthermore, he feels like he’s traveling as he wanted to, and he imagines Sarah being happy. He’s worried about Sam, but he can always fire him. The next morning,... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...Ernestina. He’s terrified, but he can’t turn back now that he’s sent his letter to Sarah. Mary answers the door for him, and Ernestina appears behind her. Charles follows her into... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...but he gets his medical bag and they start walking. He perceives with shock that Sarah is the cause. Charles insists that Sarah is better than Grogan thinks. He says Ernestina... (full context)
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...he almost wants to beg for Ernestina’s forgiveness. But then he thinks that he’ll see Sarah that night, and the vision of her helps him begin writing to Ernestina’s father. Then... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...Charles explain himself, and he does. He says he deceived Grogan because he couldn’t see Sarah put in an asylum. Grogan listens silently, then turns to the window. He says he... (full context)
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Grogan asks if Charles will marry Sarah. Charles is glad to hear his tone change, because he actually cares a lot about... (full context)
Chapter 54
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...a pharaoh and his wife standing in an embrace, and he feels that he and Sarah are similarly carved from one stone. He plans for them to go abroad as soon... (full context)
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...Exeter, Charles goes straight to Endicott’s Family Hotel, imagining the purity of his reunion with Sarah. He knocks on Mrs. Endicott’s door and says he’s going to Sarah’s room, but she... (full context)
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...when they returned to Exeter. Charles wants to kill him. His only hope is that Sarah might have gone to London to find him, but if she was looking for him,... (full context)
Chapter 55
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...at him and glares. Soon Charles begins to think about how he will surely find Sarah before long, and he falls asleep. (full context)
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...have open endings like this. Though it’s clear what Charles wants, it’s not clear what Sarah wants. If this were real life, one person’s desire would win over the other. Fiction... (full context)
Chapter 56
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Three weeks pass, and Charles hasn’t found Sarah, though he’s hired four detectives to look for her. They’ve checked governess agencies and church... (full context)
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...she was entirely truthful about her wealth and social position. He had a relationship with Sarah Woodruff and his dishonorable conduct means he can no longer claim to be a gentleman.... (full context)
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...this and refuses to see anyone. One day his detectives think they might have found Sarah working at a school, and Charles goes there to see the woman, but it’s not... (full context)
Chapter 57
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...was very brave to quit. At first he pretended to be loyal in not giving Sarah’s name, but once Mrs. Tranter had found him a job and paid for his marriage,... (full context)
Chapter 58
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...Charles never considers suicide. His vision of freedom had depended on an exile shared with Sarah, and now he feels that he’s only in a different kind of prison than before.... (full context)
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...writes only to Montague, who puts advertisements in the London papers to try to find Sarah, but to no avail. Sir Robert was initially upset when Charles broke off his engagement,... (full context)
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...for Montague’s opinion. Montague doesn’t think America can be very civilized, but he suggests that Sarah might be there. Charles says he hasn’t though of her much lately, and Montague urges... (full context)
Chapter 59
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Charles sees Sarah’s directness in the Americans he meets, and he begins to think well of her again.... (full context)
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In the three months since Mary saw Sarah, she’s given birth to a son. One peaceful evening, Sam is playing with his children... (full context)
Chapter 60
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...received a name and address in the mail, and Charles told him not to give Sarah any reason to flee. A clerk investigated and found that the woman living there looked... (full context)
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Charles approaches Sarah’s house. He doesn’t know much about this area. The Thames is disgusting and smelly, so... (full context)
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Sarah appears at the door. Her clothing makes her seem like a stranger; she’s dressed like... (full context)
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Eventually, Sarah asks how Charles found her, and he realizes that she didn’t send the address, and... (full context)
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Charles learns that Sarah has lived here for a year. He wants to ask what her arrangement is. He... (full context)
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Charles explains what has happened to him since he last saw Sarah, but she only stares out the window. Finally she says she’s so moved that she... (full context)
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Sarah says that she wanted to do what was best after deceiving and hurting Charles. She... (full context)
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Sarah denies she’s saying that she never loved Charles, but he insists that she’s saying she... (full context)
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Some part of Charles admires Sarah for this speech. He can tell that her time in London has anchored her more... (full context)
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Charles decides to be more sentimental, so he asks whether Sarah has thought about him. She says she did at first, and she did when she... (full context)
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Charles remarks that Sarah has enjoyed ruining his life. He accuses her of sending her address to his lawyer... (full context)
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Finally Charles asks what he’s supposed to understand from Sarah’s request, and she says someone less honorable would already have guessed. He wonders if there’s... (full context)
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Charles returns to the studio. He now understands that Christina Rossetti has formed Sarah’s way of looking at the world. He wishes he hadn’t come to find her, but... (full context)
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...sits on his knees. Watching her, he begins to think again about his conversation with Sarah. He hears the door open and someone put a hand on the back of his... (full context)
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Charles asks the girl’s name, and Sarah says it’s Lalage. She explains that Mr. Rossetti saw her in the street and asked... (full context)
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Finally Sarah looks at Charles, and she’s crying. Her look is naked, the kind of look that... (full context)
Chapter 61
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Charles says Sarah has gained pleasure from hurting him, and she will go to hell for it. He... (full context)
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Sarah says Charles’s name again, and puts her hand on his arm. He stops. It seems... (full context)
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Sarah has always manipulated Charles, and she knew that he would reject her offer. He leaves... (full context)
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It may seem that Charles was foolish not to accept Sarah’s offer of friendship, and that the offer showed some weakness in Sarah. It may seem... (full context)