The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Fear of Loss Is the Path to Failure: Sir Percy’s Escape Came from Daring 10th Grade

The Scarlet Pimpernel can be seen in many different ways: a contrast between law and disorder, a war between different ideologies, or a personal fight between characters. In all of these interpretations, the victory of Sir Percy, the Scarlet Pimpernel, was not predestined but was achieved through by his creative and daring choices. In fact, the odds were stacked against him; the French knew the local terrain and greatly outnumbered him. Only through his mental faculties was Sir Percy able to succeed. In this essay, I analyze the relationship between courage and intelligence in The Scarlet Pimpernel by focusing on how Sir Percy escaped Chauvelin in Calais, France. Orczy shows that intelligence is only effective when matched with courage and daring by contrasting Chauvelin’s and the French’s seemingly impossible failures with Sir Percy’s success against tremendous odds.

Chauvelin fails to catch Sir Percy despite an overwhelming advantage because he lacks the courage to act in creative and unpredictable ways. Chauvelin has the intelligence to trick Sir Percy, as seen in Chauvelin’s skillful manipulation of Marguerite and his seeing past Sir Percy’s façade. What Chauvelin lacks is the courage to take risks because he fears failure....

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