The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 47-49 Summary
by John Fowles

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Chapters 47-49 Summary

After Charles and Sarah make love, Charles lays beside her and thinks about what just happened. His actions have completely changed his world. He must marry Sarah. He does not love Ernestina. Then he wonders what the rest of the people in his world will think of him.

Sarah says she loves him but is not worthy of him. She tells Charles he must marry Ernestina and never see her again.

When Charles gets out of bed to dress, he notices a few drops of blood on the front of his shirt, which he had not taken off before making love to Sarah. He realizes that Sarah had been a virgin. When he confronts her, she admits it. But what about Vargueness, the French lieutenant, with whom Charles had been led to believe she had sex? Sarah tells Charles that when she went to the hotel to meet Vargueness, he came out of a room with another woman. Sarah had decided to never go to bed with him.

Sarah had deceived Charles, and she admits it. When Charles presses her, Sarah does not divulge her reasons for this deception. All she tells Charles is that now she knows that he has loved her for at least one night. That will make her life easier. She can now go on living.

This is not enough for Charles. Sarah has completely disarrayed his life and he cannot believe she is leaving. This makes no sense to him. Sarah merely tells him that for this one day, she considered only her own happiness and no one else’s. Now he must leave her, and she will never bother him again. He must return to Lyme and marry Ernestina.

But Charles is filled with torment. To collect his thoughts, he enters an empty church. He is not a religious man, but he finds comfort there. He has the time and the quiet to figure out what to do next. Charles paces back and forth for a long while, but finally he concludes that he cannot marry Ernestina. He must convince Sarah to be his bride; it is she whom he loves. Although it goes against all the conventions of his Victorian society, Charles feels free when...

(The entire section is 563 words.)