The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It takes several minutes for Lady Blakeney to “collect her scattered senses,” and then she hears Desgas’s voice in the street. Chauvelin runs to the door and opens it. “The tall stranger—quick—did any of you see him?” he asks in between forceful sneezes. “Where, citoyen?” Desgas asks. “Here, man!” Chauvelin yells, “through that door! Not five minutes ago!” Desgas has seen no one. “And you are just five minutes too late, my friend,” Chauvelin says with “concentrated fury.”
This speaks to Chauvelin’s despicable nature. It is his fault alone that the Scarlet Pimpernel has escaped, but he is too proud to admit it and blames Desgas for his own shortcomings. Desgas had no way of knowing the Scarlet Pimpernel would be there, thus he couldn’t possibly be late.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
“Do the men know their work,” Chauvelin asks Desgas back in the inn. Desgas has given them “very clear orders,” he says, and he has more news as well. A “tall Englishman” was seen talking to an old Jewish man, Reuben Goldstein, in the village not an hour before. Chauvelin orders Desgas to bring him this man, and once Desgas leaves, Chauvelin “moodily” paces the room. Minutes later, Desgas returns with an “elderly Jew” in “dirty, threadbare” clothing. His greasy red hair is streaked with grey and is in the “fashion of the Polish Jew,” with curls on the side of his face. His posture is poor, and he has “the habitual stoop those of his race affected in mock humility.”
Orczy’s character of the Jew is blatantly antisemitic. She portrays him as dirty and poor and clearly inferior. Of course, the Jew is merely the Scarlet Pimpernel in disguise, and the Jew’s poor posture is a dead giveaway. Orczy claims he is stooping as habit from years of “mock humility,” but this is merely Sir Percy trying to hide his tall stature—though at the same time it’s offensive and again implies that a Jew like this would be inferior simply because of his race.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
“Is this the man?” Chauvelin asks Desgas. “No, citoyen,” he replies. Reuben Goldstein is gone with his cart, but this man has some information “he is willing to sell for a consideration,” Desgas says. “You know something of my friend, the tall Englishman,” Chauvelin asks the old Jew. “Morbleu!” he adds, “keep your distance, man.” The Jew tells Chauvelin that another man has given the Englishman a ride in his cart, but his horse and cart are “not fit to drive” and they likely will not make it far. “You have a horse and cart too, then,” Chauvelin asks the Jew. “Aye,” he says.
Chauvelin is clearly a racist as well, as reflected in his refusal to stand too close to the Jew. Chauvelin’s racism is obviously why the Scarlet Pimpernel has chosen this disguise (he knows that Chauvelin won’t get too close to him), but the extremely derogatory portrayal of the Jew reflects Orczy’s prejudiced views as well.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
Chauvelin asks the Jew if he knows what direction the Englishman is heading. “To a place called the Père Blanchard’s hut?” Chauvelin asks. “Your Honour has guessed?” the Jew responds, shocked. “You know the place?” Chauvelin says. Yes, the Jew answers. “Every stone, every blade of grass, Your Honour.”  Chauvelin smiles. “We won’t kill him outright, eh, friend Desgas?” Chauvelin says in reference to Sir Percy. The hut is undoubtedly “a lonely spot upon the beach, and our men will enjoy a bit of rough sport there with the wounded fox.”
It is ironic that the Jew—Sir Percy—knows the French countryside better than Chauvelin, which further implies that Chauvelin and the other members of the republic aren’t fit to run a country that they clearly know so little about. Chauvelin obviously get pleasure out of making the Scarlet Pimpernel suffer needlessly, which further reflects his evil nature.
Themes
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
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