The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
By the time Lady Blakeney wakes, it is late in the morning. Sir Percy’s groom has returned with his master’s horse and claims that Sir Percy boarded his yacht in London. This “puzzles” Lady Blakeney. What business does Sir Percy have on his yacht? Placing her thoughts aside, Lady Blakeney thinks about her day. Suzanne de Tournay is coming to visit. She had invited her old friend to visit last night in the presence of the Prince of Wales, and the Comtesse had been too polite to forbid it. As Lady Blakeney crosses the landing outside her private suites, she looks toward Sir Percy’s bank of rooms.
Sir Percy has boarded his yacht because he is on his way to France to rescue the Comte and Armand. Percy later reveals that he knew about Chauvelin’s discovery of his identity and Marguerite’s betrayal of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Therefore, Percy knows his life is in more danger than usual, yet he continues, which speaks to his inherent goodness and courage. As the epitome of bravery and honor, Percy is dedicated to others before himself.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
To one side sits Sir Percy’s office, which is off-limits to everyone except his private valet. Lady Blakeney notices the door slightly open and decides to take a look. She often jokes with Sir Percy that he only keeps his study private so that others won’t know that “very little ‘study’” occurs there. She steps into the room and looks around. The furniture is luxurious but utilitarian, and it is sparsely decorated. The space is meticulously organized and does not reflect Sir Percy’s hurried departure, or his “brainless” ways.
Marguerite finds nearly any reason to give Percy a hard time and call him stupid, which speaks to the level of her contempt for him and how deeply her pride is associated with her own intelligence. Marguerite expects Percy’s office to be as cluttered and unorganized as she believes his mind to be, or at least be full of clothes and discarded cravats.
Themes
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
“Why should he take all this trouble?” Lady Blakeney asks herself as she studies the room. Sir Percy’s office “obviously” belongs to “a serious, earnest man,” so why does he wish to appear to “his fellow-men as an empty-headed nincompoop” she wonders. She looks to the walls on which hang maps of France and Paris. “What does Sir Percy want with these?” Lady Blakeney thinks as she stumbles over something on the floor. She bends to pick up the “mysterious device” and discovers that it is a gold ring, and on it is a small engraving of a Scarlet Pimpernel.
Marguerite’s intelligence is of the utmost importance to her, and she would be humiliated if others thought her stupid, so she can’t imagine why Percy would want people to see him that way. This too reflects Marguerite’s self-centeredness. Percy acts stupid so that he can save others—he sacrifices his image so others can live—but this is hard for Marguerite to understand, since she so easily sacrifices others to get want she wants.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
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