The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 43-46 Summary
by John Fowles

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Chapters 43-46 Summary

As Charles travels back to Lyme, he considers Sarah’s letter. He wonders why she merely sent the address where she was staying in Exeter and had not signed her name. To Charles, the letter feels more like an invitation to come visit her rather than indicative of feelings of remorse or shame.

When the train arrives in Exeter, Sam asks if they are to spend the night. Sam had expected an affirmative answer. However, Charles tells him that they will not spend the night there but are heading straight for Lyme. Once in the carriage, Charles feels a sadness come over him; he is aware that his actions have ended any further relationship with Sarah. He deems his action moral and socially correct, but his decision makes him feel the full weight of the consequences of marrying Ernestina. He predicts that he will one day be a merchant, a profession he detests. His life will be spent pleasing Ernestina and her father. For this life he has chosen, he feels himself to be weak, throwing himself upon fate as if he were a victim.

When they arrive in Lyme, Charles quickly makes his way to Mrs. Tranter’s house. Ernestina has given her aunt strict orders not to keep Charles delayed with any private conversations. Her aunt obeys, and soon Charles is alone with Ernestina. The couple enjoys a lively and flirtatious banter. Then Charles confesses his involvement with Sarah.

The narrator interrupts the chapter to tell his readers that the story has come to an end. He quickly sums up what happens to the major characters. Sarah quietly disappears and never again enters Charles’s life. Charles and Ernestina get married; although they are not completely happy, they have seven children. Charles’s uncle not only marries but produces a set of twins as his heirs. Charles goes into business with his own sons, who eventually bequeath the business to his grandchildren. Finally, the narrator tells that Mrs. Poulteney eventually dies and attempts to enter heaven. The gatekeeper, however, does not allow her in. Of course, the story does not end here. The narrator says this is a possible ending, one...

(The entire section is 569 words.)