The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The French Lieutenant’s Woman


John Fowles

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The Brooch Symbol Analysis

The Brooch Symbol Icon

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.

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The Brooch Symbol Timeline in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

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.
Chapter 44
Fiction and History vs. Reality Theme Icon
Convention vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Sexuality and Gender Theme Icon
Charles gives Ernestina a small box. When she opens it she finds a brooch, and she kisses him, then it. He says he wishes they could get married the... (full context)
Chapter 49
Convention vs. Freedom Theme Icon
...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)
Chapter 57
Class Theme Icon When he returns home that night, he kisses Mary and they look at the brooch she wears as a symbol of their good luck. (full context)