The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lady Blakeney retires to her room but does not sleep. Despite her worry for Armand, Lady Blakeney thinks only of Sir Percy, and her “limbs seem to ache with longing for the love a man who had spurned her, […].” Oddly, Lady Blakeney still loves Sir Percy, and she knows now that she never stopped. “Deep down,” she has always “felt that his foolish inanities, his empty laugh, his lazy nonchalance were nothing but a mask.” The “real” Sir Percy—a “strong, passionate willful” man—was “still there” somewhere.
Lady Blakeney again appears more concerned with the fact that Sir Percy has “spurned her,” which is another shot to her pride. She feels rejected and now decides that she always loved him. Of course, she doesn’t love the “foolish” Percy, but rather the man she is convinced he is hiding from her.
Themes
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Suddenly, Lady Blakeney hears footsteps outside her door. She opens it and finds an envelope at her feet. Inside is a letter from Sir Percy. Business has called him North and he must leave at once. Sir Percy owns a considerable amount of land in the North, but nothing that should call him away at such a strange hour. Suspicious, Lady Blakeney runs downstairs and outside, where she finds Sir Percy ready to depart.
Sir Percy isn’t going to the North—he’s going to France to rescue the Comte de Tournay and Armand—but he can’t tell Lady Blakeney this directly. She obviously doesn’t believe him, but she doesn’t yet suspect him of being the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
“You are going?” Lady Blakeney asks Sir Percy. “Whither?” He tells her that, like his letter said, his presence is required in the North. His business there is “unexpected and urgent,” and he isn’t sure when he will return. “You have not been called away to the North,” Lady Blakeney says and waits for a response. “Nay, there is no mystery,” Sir Percy says. “My business has to do with Armand…there!” he cries and drives away.
Lady Blakeney is clearly growing suspicious. As a senseless socialite, it is unlikely that Percy would ever have “unexpected and urgent business” anywhere, especially at such an odd hour. Claiming that he plans on helping Armand seems like a safe confession. Armand is his wife’s brother and he should help him, but doing so doesn’t necessarily imply that he must be the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Themes
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
As Lady Blakeney watches Sir Percy drive away, she is “no longer anxious about Armand.” She can’t believe she ever thought her husband “an inane fool,” and she is even more convinced that his shallow behavior is “a mask worn to hide the bitter wound she had dealt to his faith and to his love.” It never occurs to Lady Blakeney that her husband will fail to save Armand, and she goes directly upstairs to sleep.
Marguerite has already decided that Percy’s stupidity is an act, but she selfishly believes it has only to do with her and the blow she dealt his pride. Percy’s stupidity is also a diversion from his identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel—it is not exclusively about Marguerite.
Themes
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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