The Scarlet Pimpernel: Characters

The Scarlet Pimpernel is, in fact, Sir Percy Blakeney. While society sees him as a foppish and foolish aristocrat, he is actually a clever, cunning orchestrator of elaborate schemes to rescue French nobility from the guilliotine in revolutionary Paris. He is praised throughout the book as the embodiment of Britain’s finest virtues.

Marguerite St. Just is Sir Percy’s wife. In her strongest moments, readers sense that she is more than simply lovely and witty, “the cleverest woman in Europe,” (as we are told many times); she is also a fully capable moral agent, ready to defy Fate for the sake of love and justice. Surely she stands well within the ranks of the Pimpernel’s trusted associates in spirit, if not in actual fact.

Armand Chauvelin is the arrogant representative of the French revolutionary government who doggedly pursues the Scarlet Pimpernel from Dover to Calais, only to be foiled in the end by the Pimpernel’s clever plotting. At several points, readers are given inmost thoughts about the Pimpernel: “Chauvelin drew a deep breath of satisfaction at the very thought of seeing that enigmatic head falling under the knife of the guillotine, as easily as that of any other man” (p. 92). Chauvelin’s arrogance and self-righteousness may also contribute to his inability to see the object of his pursuit, even when the Pimpernel is next to him at the ball. Chauvelin seems persuaded that the Prince of Wales is himself the Pimpernel; when, in fact, the person Chauvelin seeks is the same person who dismisses the English hero as “a demmed shadow” (p. 95).

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes is one of the Pimpernel’s most trusted lieutenants. He is a conventionally heroic and model character. He is also the romantic interest for Suzanne de Tournay, a young French aristocratic woman whom the Pimpernel rescues, along with her mother and brother, in the novel’s first chapter.

Mr. Jellyband owns and operates The Fisherman’s Rest, an inn in Dover which serves as the Scarlet Pimpernel’s base of operations. He is described as a “John Bull” character—the very embodiment of British sensibility and patriotism.