What are the things that make you happy or sad in the first six chapters of The Scarlet Pimpernel?

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jjohnson112 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book, The Scarlet Pimpernel, begins in France, with vivid descriptions of be-headings.  The French Revolution is in full swing and all aristocrats are sentenced to the blade.  The author describes women, the "tricotteuses" who knit while watching noble men, women, and children lose their heads, and become "bespattered" with blood.  Watching a hundred people a day die at the guillotine has become sport and entertainment.  The fact that people enjoy murdering people, is a sad fact.  

The Sergeants patrol the gates and look for aristocrats trying to escape. Patrols are tighter, since some aristocrats have been escaping with the help of the mysterious "Scarlet Pimpernel." Sergeant Bibot is known for his ability to find disguised nobility, and the townsfolk watch his gate, hoping to see a dramatic unveiling.  However, Bibot is fooled by a "hag" who is none other than the Scarlet Pimpernel in disguise.  As the hag, he sneaks the Comtesse Suzanne de Tournay and her children past the gate by saying "she" has children in the back of the wagon with smallpox, or possibly the plague.  Bibot lets the wagon go without being searched, and realizes too late, his error.  After bragging about his abilities, he too, is guilty of being fooled by the Scarlet Pimpernel.  The reader cannot help but feel happy at the boastful Bibot being bamboozled,while the Comtesse and her children escape the guillotine.

Natalie Saaris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some things that might make you happy:

The Scarlet Pimpernell is a clever master of disguise who manages to rescue members of the French aristocracy from the guillotine by smuggling them into England. 

Suzanne's affection for Marguerite in chapter 5 might make you happy.

Somethings that might make you sad:

The story is set during the French Revolution and features beheadings and grave discord between the aristocrats and the common people. The Comtesse is an example of someone who has had to flee France in fear of the guillotine. In chapter four, she expresses regret at having had to leave her husband behind in order to save herself and her children. 

You might be saddened at the tense relationship between Marguerite Blakeney and the Comtesse that disrupts the congenial atmosphere of the inn in chapter five.

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The Scarlet Pimpernel

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