Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel in the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main character of the swashbuckling adventure novel written by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, the Scarlet Pimpernel is a flamboyant heroic character who is sympathetic to the French aristocracy during the French Revolution.

With his ingenious escapades, he is able to smuggle these aristocrats past the revolutionary guards in France. Then, after completing his capers, the Pimpernel leaves a note, boldly describing how it was effected. This note is signed with a red, star-shaped flower from England that is called a scarlet pimpernel.

The Pimpernel's real name is Sir Percy Blackeney, and he is married to Marguerite St. Just, who is called Lady Blakeney. A rich and fashionable man, Sir Percy, however, is perceived in his own country as a rather dull and somewhat foolish man because he has appeared inept before the Comtesse de Tournay's son, who has challenged him to a duel. As Sir Percy fumbles, Lady Blakeney intervenes and cleverly saves the situation. Of course, this perceived ineptness on the part of Sir Percy is but a ploy to keep his identity secret.