The Scarlet Pimpernel

by

Baroness Orczy

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Chauvelin’s right-hand man and member of the French guard. Desgas is responsible for relaying Chauvelin’s orders to the other men down the line and does so with precision, but he still serves as a fall guy for Chauvelin’s failures. When Sir Percy outsmarts Chauvelin at the “Chat Gris,” Chauvelin blames Desgas for his own inability to capture the Scarlet Pimpernel. Later, after Chauvelin’s men allow Armand St. Just and the Comte de Tournay to escape at the Père Blanchard’s hut, Chauvelin again blames Desgas for his own “blunder” and poor leadership skills. Orczy never does say what happens to Desgas, but he is presumably punished at the guillotine for allowing the Scarlet Pimpernel to escape. Desgas and the other men under Chauvelin’s charge fail to apprehend the Scarlet Pimpernel because they are blindly loyal to Chauvelin and his rank in the French guard. They follow Chauvelin’s orders to a tee, but when faced with unexpected circumstances, they don’t know what to do. The Scarlet Pimpernel’s men by comparison are loyal to their leader for moral reasons, not merely as a duty to their country, and they are ultimately successful. In this way, Orczy suggest that it is more commendable to be loyal to one’s morals and values than to remain blindly loyal to one’s country.
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Desgas Character Timeline in The Scarlet Pimpernel

The timeline below shows where the character Desgas appears in The Scarlet Pimpernel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 24: The Death-Trap
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
...their faces, she knows that one of the men is Chauvelin, and the other is Desgas, his “secretary and confidential factotum.” (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...be alone.” Once Chauvelin is sure the landlord has gone, he begins to speak to Desgas. “The English schooner?” he asks. Desgas says that have “lost sight” of it, but it... (full context)
Chapter 26: The Jew
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Pride and Humility Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity 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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 27: On the Track
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Lady Blakeney hears Desgas outside shouting orders, and then she hears the Jew’s old cart drive down the bumpy... (full context)
Chapter 28: The Père Blanchard’s Hut
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Loyalty Theme Icon
...must “remember every syllable [he] utters, as if [their] very lives depend on [their] memory.” Desgas agrees. “We listen, citoyen,” he says, “and a soldier of the Republic never forgets an... (full context)
Loyalty Theme Icon
...it is your duty to capture to-night,” Chauvelin says. “You shall be implicitly obeyed, citoyen,” Desgas says, but “what about the Jew?” Chauvelin has forgotten all about the dirty old man. (full context)
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
...If confronted by the enemy, he is likely to scream and run. “I fancy, citoyen,” Desgas says, “that [the horse and cart] will be safer without that dirty, cowardly Jew than... (full context)
Chapter 30: The Schooner
Loyalty Theme Icon
...the sound of the singing. The voice comes closer, and she hears the “click” of Desgas’s gun. Suddenly, Lady Blakeney runs toward the cliff screaming. “Armand! Armand! For God’s sake fire!... (full context)