The Scarlet Pimpernel


Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

As Chauvelin’s men carry Lady Blakeney down the footpath, they continue to fine-tune their plans. There are now two additional men—strangers—inside the hut with Armand and the Comte, and a yacht is anchored out at sea. The ship is obviously English, and the boat’s dinghy is unaccounted for. The man confirms that the soldiers will wait for the Scarlet Pimpernel to overtake the men. “And the Jew?” Chauvelin asks. “He’s gagged, and his legs strapped together,” the man reports. “He cannot move or scream.”
Presumably, the two strangers in the hut are members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and they have come from Percy’s yacht. It seems that the prudent thing to do is to find the dinghy and make their escape back to the yacht impossible, but Chauvelin is too focused on capturing the Scarlet Pimpernel to think much past his enemy. This too depicts Chauvelin as incompetent and dictated by emotion, which Orczy implies all French are.
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Chauvelin turns to Lady Blakeney. “Before that handkerchief is removed from your mouth, fair lady,” he says, “I think it right to give you one small word of warning.” He orders her not to speak or scream, or Armand’s safety will be compromised. Chauvelin promises to spare Armand’s life if she follows his simple instructions. Chauvelin again gives Lady Blakeney an “either—or” proposition. “Either” she allows her husband, the Scarlet Pimpernel, to walk unknowingly into a deadly trap, “or” her brother will die before her very eyes, along with the other three men in the hut.
Chauvelin again puts Marguerite in a situation where she has to chose between her loyalty to her husband and her loyalty to her brother, and it is again an impossible choice. What’s more, there is the Comte and the two strangers to consider as well. This too is evidence of Chauvelin’s evil nature—he relishes the thought of making Lady Blakeney suffer.
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Chauvelin removes the handkerchief and Lady Blakeney remains silent. She tries frantically to conceive of a plan to save Armand, Sir Percy, and everyone else, but she comes up empty. It is “impossible that she, Marguerite Blakeney, the queen of London society, should actually be sitting here” trying to hatch a plan against the French Republic. After all, what could she do? Lady Blakeney “is weak, and she is a woman.” Lost in her desperate thoughts, the sound of a “cheerful, strong voice” singing “God save the King!” can be heard above the crashing waves.
Lady Blakeney’s attempt to conceive of a plan in which she can save everyone is further evidence of her evolving character. There is not a hint of the selfish Marguerite that so easily gave up the Scarlet Pimpernel to save Armand. Now, she is arguably as heroic as the Scarlet Pimpernel himself. Orczy’s use of the word “queen” to describe Lady Blakeney reflects her status as the wife as an aristocrat, but it also reflects Orczy’s belief in the inherent superiority of the nobility.
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