The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
With the Scarlet Pimpernel seal-ring still in her hand, Lady Blakeney runs out of the house and into the garden. “Bah!” she thinks to herself. “It is ridiculous!” Her husband can’t be the Scarlet Pimpernel! What does one seal-ring prove? Lady Blakeney herself owns several gowns with the red blossom embroidered on them, and she is also known to wear jewels in her hair in the shape of the small English flower. Many in England pay homage to the Scarlet Pimpernel in this way, so it is believable that Sir Percy has as well, which explains the ring.
The small red flower is symbolic of Percy’s true identity. The flower itself is a popular symbol of England, and since the Scarlet Pimpernel embodies all the stereotypical British qualities, it is a perfect symbol for Sir Percy by extension. Not only is the flower innately British, it is also understated and unassuming, two important qualities of the Scarlet Pimpernel that ensure his secret identity.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
With her thoughts in a “whirl” and “her mind a blank,” Lady Blakeney notices a young woman enter the garden. “Where are you?” Suzanne de Tournay yells to her friend. Lady Blakeney welcomes her and the two women embrace. Suzanne begins to immediately talk about France and her father, the Comte’s, upcoming escape. “Oh, we have no fear now!” Suzanne claims. “You don’t know, chérie, that that great and noble Scarlet Pimpernel himself has gone to save papa,” she continues. “He was in London this morning; he will be in Calais, perhaps, to-morrow.”
Suzanne’s claim that Marguerite doesn’t know that the Scarlet Pimpernel has left to rescue Suzanne’s father is ironic. Marguerite does know that the Scarlet Pimpernel has left for Calais (she knows as much from Sir Andrew’s scrap of paper)—what she doesn’t know is that Sir Percy has left to rescue the Comte, but Suzanne’s comment suddenly makes her realize this fact.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Lady Blakeney has a sudden realization and wonders how she could “have been so blind.” She understands now, “all at once,” the “part [Sir Percy] played—the mask he wore”—was nothing but a ruse to “throw dust in everybody’s eyes.” Maybe, Lady Blakeney considers, Sir Percy had intended on telling her of his identity after they married, but heard first about her involvement with the Marquis’s death. Of course, Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel! “The mask of the inane fop had been a good one,” Lady Blakeney thinks, “and the part consummately well played.”
Marguerite is finally beginning to understand how significant her role in the Marquis’s death is to Sir Percy. For the first time she considers that Percy may have told her he was the Scarlet Pimpernel if she hadn’t told him in no uncertain terms that she had no respect for aristocrats through her treatment of the Marquis. Sir Percy had no reason to tell her he was secretly saving aristocrats while she was openly having them executed.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
Related Quotes
“But what is it, chérie?” Suzanne asks, noticing Lady Blakeney’s distraction. “Are you ill, Marguerite? What is it?” Marguerite asks to be alone and Suzanne agrees and begins to walk away. As she does, Sir Percy’s groom appears and gives Lady Blakeney an envelope. She tears it open and finds Armand’s letter to Sir Andrew. The groom claims that a “runner” has just dropped it off, and the envelope had been given to him by “a gentleman” who was awaiting a coach to Dover.
The arrival of Armand’s letter means that Marguerite has fulfilled her obligation and has helped Chauvelin discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Chauvelin is awaiting a coach to Dover so he can cross the Channel back into France, intercept Percy in Calais, and have him executed at the guillotine as an enemy of France.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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Alone in the garden, Lady Blakeney curses herself for not noticing that Sir Percy is “wearing a mask.” Now, she wishes she had “torn it from his face.” Marguerite’s own love for her husband “had been paltry and weak,” and it was “easily crushed by her own pride.” She, too, has “worn a mask in assuming a contempt for him, whilst, as a matter of fact, she completely misunderstood him.”
Marguerite’s character is beginning to evolve. She admits her pride and conceit, and also admits that her “paltry and weak” love had not been deserving of Sir Percy. By admitting her pride, Marguerite moves a little closer to happiness, or at least some sort of resolution.
Themes
Pride and Humility Theme Icon