The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 53-56 Summary
by John Fowles

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Chapters 53-56 Summary

Dr. Grogan visits Charles. He has promised Mrs. Tranter that he will give Charles a verbal thrashing. The doctor is indeed angry with Charles but not on a philosophical level. Dr. Grogan is a worldly man who has read the best literary, philosophical, and scientific works of his day. He understands that the Victorian society is stifling human nature and needs to be reformed. However, on a personal level, he is angry that Ernestina has been hurt.

In his defense, Charles tells Grogan that Sarah is not the woman Grogan described. She is not an evil woman. He also informs the doctor that he plans on marrying her. Grogan reluctantly agrees with Charles that he can do no other than he has already done. If he is truly not in love with Ernestina and if he is attracted to Sarah on a higher level than mere lust, than his broken engagement was necessary. However, Grogan also asks Charles to prove his actions are sincere and just by transforming himself into a more giving human being than he might have been had he gone along with social customs and married Ernestina. If he does not improve himself in this way, then he deserves to be punished for the rest of his life.

Charles leaves Lyme immediately. He drives through the night to Exeter and goes directly to the inn where Sarah is staying. When he arrives, the manager tells him that Sarah has left for London. Charles questions whether a messenger brought a package and a letter for Sarah the day before, and the manager tells him no. Charles concludes that Sam must have stolen the package and read the letter. Maybe that was why Sam acted so strangely. Charles considers going to the police station and having Sam arrested as a thief, but he decides against this. However, he feels he might strangle Sam if he ever sees him again.

As Charles travels by train to London, the narrator puts himself into the novel as a character. A strange, bearded man enters Charles’s compartment. The men stare disapprovingly at one another until Charles falls asleep. While Charles sleeps, the bearded man analyzes him. As the narrator, this man attempts to figure out what to do with Charles and how he should end the novel. He considers allowing Charles’s wishes by putting him in touch with Sarah; he also considers leaving Charles to...

(The entire section is 601 words.)