The Scarlet Pimpernel is an “English wayside flower,” and it is symbolic of Sir Percy Blakeney’s secret identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel, “the best and bravest man in all the world.” Each time Sir Percy saves an “innocent” aristocrat from the guillotine disguised as the Scarlet Pimpernel, he sends the French government a notice signed with a small red flower. The figure of the Scarlet Pimpernel is celebrated throughout England, and many citizens name food, clothing, and even horses after the tiny flower in honor of their national hero. When Sir Percy’s wife, Lady Blakeney, finds a ring engraved with a Scarlet Pimpernel in her husband’s private study, she discovers Sir Percy’s amazing, and noble, secret.
While the little red flower is symbolic of Sir Percy’s identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel, it is also symbolic of his identity as an Englishman. The Scarlet Pimpernel is an iconic flower of England, which Orczy describes as “humble” and modest, and it serves as a metaphor for English restraint and humility. Baroness Orczy portrays the French revolutionists as hasty and passionate, often acting without thinking; however, the British are calm and collected, and often display incredible self-control. As the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy saves condemned aristocrats with selfless disregard for his own life, and he does so without recognition or violence. Like the unassuming red flower, Sir Percy is “the most British Britisher” and is the personification of Orczy’s ideal of English modesty.