When Charles goes to London to speak to Mr. Freeman, he buys a brooch that he intends to give to Ernestina. In the first ending, he does just this, and the brooch acts as a symbol of their enduring relationship. However, this ending is false. In reality, Charles sends the brooch to Sarah with his letter telling her he’s going to break off his engagement to Ernestina. Thus, it symbolizes his infidelity to Ernestina, as he’s giving a gift meant for her to someone else. However, Sarah never receives the brooch. Instead, Sam keeps it and gives it to Mary. In this context, the brooch represents the fact that their prosperity is based on deception that has hurt others. In all of its appearances, then, the brooch acts as a symbol of deceit: Charles’s deceit of himself, his deceit of Ernestina, and Sam’s deceit of Charles.
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Brooch appears in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...Last night he eventually added a postscript to the letter, saying that he’s including a brooch (which he intended to give to Ernestina). If she accepts his apologies, she should keep... (full context)