RSS

Category Archives: *Le Literary Analysis

Literary Analysis: Frozen

Literary Analysis: Frozen

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Storyline: Two orphaned princesses struggle to remain friends, despite the magical obstacles that try to force them apart.

Now, I saw a lot of movies last year, including Catching Fire, Thor 2, and Desolation of Smaug. But Disney’s Frozen is, by far and away, the best movie I saw that year. So of course, being me, I felt I needed to analyze the whole thing. And this is the result.

—SPOILERS—
This is an in-depth review and analysis of Frozen. If you do not want the entire story laid out for you in an objective manner, then don’t read this post.

Central Conflict: Can Elsa and Anna maintain a close sisterly relationship?

Inciting Incident: Elsa freezes Anna and is forced into isolation.

First Disaster: Anna accidentally provokes Elsa into freezing Arrendelle, resulting in Elsa running off into the mountains.

Second Disaster: Elsa refuses to come back with Anna, creates a snow monster to drive her away, and unknowingly freezes Anna’s heart.

Third Disaster: Hans betrays Anna, locking both her and Elsa away, and tells Elsa that she killed Anna.

Climax: Anna turns away from Kristoff and throws herself in front of Elsa, saving her life.

Theme: True love is unconditional—Agape. Love will thaw.

The overarching theme of Frozen, as I stated above, is agape—unconditional—love. Period. End of story. That movie brilliantly illustrated what love looks like, in just a few of its different forms. See, in the world today, and specifically America, I feel that we have kinda lost sight of the meaning of love. When we say “I love you,” that almost always refers to a lover. There are other forms of love! I am not at all ashamed to admit that I have multiple guy friends whom I love, and I most certainly do not mean that I “have a crush on them,” whatever that means. I love them with a different kind of love.

Now, the Greeks had a really awesome way of handling all these different facets of love. Each type had its own name. What people today normally think of when they think of the word love is actually Eros, or “romantic love.” Unconditional love, the type that Frozen deals with, is Agape. There are two other types as well—Storge, or familial love, and Philia, brotherly love. Frozen deals mainly with Agape.

Elsa and Anna show each other agape. This is evident all throughout the movie, right from the start. When Elsa and Anna are playing in the snow and Elsa first freezes Anna’s head, it is clear that Elsa loves her sister with a deep and powerful love. The fear of losing her was so great that Elsa’s ice powers were triggered. And after that moment, everything Elsa does is to protect her sister. Moving out of her room, isolating herself from the world, not letting Anna know anything… Sure, it was hard on Anna, but it was immensely painful for Elsa. She literally hid herself from all human contact for the sake of her sister. That takes agape love.

Kristoff loves Anna unconditionally. Again, everything Kristoff does portrays this, from risking his life countless times to protect her to giving her up and walking away for her benefit. Frozen sends a message for both girls and boys: Girls, look for a Kristoff, a man who will put your needs first. And boys, be Kristoffs. I’m just going to quote Tom Hiddleston here: “This generation has lost the true meaning of romance. There are so many songs that disrespect women. You can’t treat the woman you love as a piece of meat. You should treat your love like a princess. Give her love songs, something with real meaning. Maybe I’m old fashioned but to respect the woman you love should be a priority.”

If Tom Hiddleston agrees with me, then it must be right. Right? 😉

Now, I could go on forever on just the many different ways Kristoff showed Anna love, but it’s time to move on. I’ve still got a lot to say, so bear with me. 😛

Olaf. The spunky little snowman that everybody adores shows agape just as perfectly as Elsa or Kristoff do. Why, he even has the best quote! “Love is putting someone else’s needs above yours.”

Ok, story time: When I was in the theater, during that scene with Olaf, there was a line in it that made me laugh. I thought it was just so ironic and so well done as comedy that that was just what it was supposed to be, but since nobody else laughed and I got weird glances, I guess not. XD Remember when Anna tells Olaf to skedaddle so that he won’t melt? And then Olaf immediately plops himself down beside Anna and promises to wait till they’ve found some act of true love to save her? I thought that was hilarious. Know why? That right there, in and of itself, was an act of true love. If the characters really understood how to break the spell like they thought they did, they wouldn’t have needed Kristoff, because the very fact that Olaf was in that room was an act of true love.

Which brings up an excellent point. Only an act of true love could save Anna. But that’s not the whole deal. If it were, then as soon as Kristoff dropped her off at the castle the spell would have been broken. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t just any act of true love that would thaw Anna’s heart. It was an act of true love on Anna’s part. And that right there makes for some powerful imagery. In order to thaw a frozen or hardened heart, you yourself have to show love to others.

Next up is the opposite end of the spectrum—people, or rather, one person, who most certainly did not show agape. Have you guessed who it is? You probably have. Hans. I have witnessed three whole theaters collectively gasp when Hans reveals himself as a villain, and by the way, that included two teenage hipster boys in one case. XD

One of my favorite lines of the movie concerns Hans, and is said by Elsa: “You can’t marry a man you just met.” There’s a theme not often heard in Disney movies! And this movie does a fantastic job of showing why. You can’t marry a man you just met because you can’t possibly hope to know his true intentions after only one song together! Now, I’m not usually into Taylor Swift, but I’m quoting her here: “When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he’s everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he’s not easy to spot; he’s really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.”

Doesn’t this pretty much describe Hans? He seems perfect at first, but in reality that’s only the facade he’s put up for himself. In reality he’s the bag guy. And this, kids, is why you can’t marry a guy you just met, and why you should never trust too early.

And, with that done, I’m basically going to spend the rest of this post on my favorite character… Elsa! There is so much to Elsa that I’m only going to skim the surface here, but here goes.

Everything she did, from day one, was to protect Anna. Starting from when she hit Anna with her ice powers and immediately ran to her and started freezing everything. At that point, she was a child, and her powers weren’t as strong as they were later on, so the very fact that she caused that much ice out of just fear tells us that that was a lot of fear. Fear of losing Anna.

And what happens next? Through the extreme measures she and her parents took to protect everybody, including Elsa and Anna, from Elsa’s powers, Elsa pretty much lost the very thing she was trying to save. But that didn’t matter to her: At least Anna was safe. And here we have our first instance of Elsa putting Anna’s needs before her own.

Fast forward to the coronation. I don’t know how on earth Disney did what it did, but you can see the love in Elsa’s face as she starts talking to Anna. Actually, I’m gonna quote something a bit esoteric here… Ender’s Game. Without giving away the story I’ll just quote this one line: “Believe me, Ender, people change in six years, in ten years. Your sister . . . will be a woman when you see her again. . . .You’ll be strangers. You’ll still love her, Ender, but you won’t know her.” And I think that that quote correlates to Frozen perfectly. Elsa and Anna have been apart for so long that they don’t know each other anymore… But they still love each other.

And then Anna and Hans ask Elsa’s blessing on their marriage. Elsa’s refusal was an act of love too, really. She knew better than Anna did why you can’t marry a man you just met. She even tried to have the conversation alone, so as not to make Hans awkward. She wasn’t being cruel… she was being realistic. But of course, after years of being locked away with no explanation, this is when Anna finally snaps.

I’m just going to focus on Elsa’s response to everything Anna says: “Then leave.” In Elsa’s eyes you can see the anguish and the love behind that sentence. In Anna’s you see only pain and betrayal. But what Elsa said here is yet another instance of agape… She did all that she did to protect her sister, and here, she realizes that it’d be better for Anna if she went completely away. Elsa is willing to give up Anna completely if it means her safety, and as we see later, that’s a big factor in the story.

Because if Anna won’t leave Arrendelle, then there is only one other option. Elsa must leave herself. After Anna triggers a terrible display of Elsa’s power she runs off to the North Mountain where she can be who she is without hurting anyone. It is there that she sings Let It Go, a song I wrote an entirely different blog post for. It can be found here.

Since the next time you see Elsa is when she freezes Anna’s heart, that’s the next place I’m going to go. When Elsa was told that she covered Arrendelle in snow, and consequently became emotional to the point of starting another blizzard, the first thing she says after realizing how much fear she had is “You’re not safe here!” Because that’s what Elsa’s doing all of this for, and that’s all she cares about. Anna isn’t safe.

So of course she creates a giant snow monster to chase Anna off and almost kill her. But that wasn’t what she originally intended!

Think about it. Marshmallow originally was going to simply scoop up Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf and chuck them outside. It was Anna’s own impulsive insistence that brought on the danger. Marshmallow can be thought of as the fearful version of Elsa.

Now on to her encounter with Hans, which is just tragic. At this point she’s sent Anna away, doesn’t know what she’s done to her sister, and thinks that she is finally free. Wrong! There’s a lot of the story left to go yet! When she sees Hans’ horde, she shuts the doors and walks away. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone; she just wants to be left alone. But of course she doesn’t get that.

She gets two assassins instead. Here we see Elsa use her magic aggressively, first to defend herself from the assassins but then to attack back. By the end of the fight her fear is giving way to anger and she is extremely close to killing both of her attackers.

Which is where Hans actually comes in and plays the good guy. Regardless of his evil character, his plots, or the fact that all he really wanted was to see Elsa dead, he is the one who saved her in the end. And I don’t mean the arrow.

I mean what he said. “Don’t be the monster they fear you are.” For him, it was a facade. The nice guy. But for Elsa, it was exactly what she needed to hear. She wasn’t a monster. But she was becoming one. And that wasn’t what she wanted. As soon as she heard that she stopped attacking the assassins. And then shortly thereafter gets knocked unconscious.

Only to wake up in a prison cell. Seriously, can this girl get a break? Inside that cell, she sees for the first time what her fear did to Arrendelle. She is told that Anna, the Anna she turned away at her door, the Anna she has spent a lifetime protecting, is still out in that blizzard. And then Elsa’s fear is so strong she can freeze off gigantic iron chains and escape. Actually, forget about freezing the chains. She froze the entire palace.

And she escapes into the blizzard, for two reasons I think. One is to save Arrendelle from her cold influence. She knows she can’t control her power and she needs to get as far away from Arrendelle as possible. But the other reason is Anna. There’s nothing in the movie to confirm it, but I’m pretty sure she was also going to search for Anna before she left.

Of course, that doesn’t work out quite right. Nope, instead of finding her sister, returning her to safety, and getting the heck out of there, Elsa is told that she has killed the one thing that she had kept going for. It is at this point that Elsa gives up. The blizzard, the embodiment of her emotions, freezes. She falls to her knees and weeps. And she doesn’t care enough to stop Hans from stabbing her with his sword.

Because without Anna, she is nothing. Without Anna, she really is a monster. She doesn’t deserve to live. I’m pretty much 100% certain that’s what she was thinking right then. And then Anna saved her.

Which means two things. Firstly, it means that Hans was lying about her being dead. Secondly, it means that Elsa gets to experience Anna’s death all over again. And this time she knows for a fact who is to blame. As she clings to the frozen sculpture of Anna, Elsa pours out all of the love she should have been able to show her sister through the years… but it comes out as grief. Because now she can never make it right with Anna. She can never build that snowman.

And when Anna unfreezes and returns to normal, Elsa is overjoyed. All of that love that turned into grief was turned back into love. Love that she immediately poured into Anna. And that’s when it hits her.

Love. Why hadn’t she seen it before? The opposite of fear. Love. Elsa thaws all of Arrendelle, and by the end of the movie, she is a fully accepted and beautiful queen, loved by all her subjects. Anna and Elsa have the relationship they always should have had, and the gates of Arrendelle are open for good. The scars of her childhood will always remain, but with time and Anna’s love, they will fade.

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:7

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 7, 2014 in *Le Literary Analysis

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Frozen: “Let It Go”

Out of every movie I saw in 2013, which by the way included Thor 2, the Hobbit, and Catching Fire, Frozen is the best one. Later on I’m going to analyze the whole plot, but that’s gonna take a while to put together because of sheer quantity. There is so much to analyze that it’s hard to know where to even begin.

So for now I wrote up an analysis of just one song—”Let It Go,” as sung by Idina Metzel, who plays Elsa. I have a line-by-line translation and then make my point at the end. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is really a true analysis so much as learning valuable lessons from this song.

—SPOILERS—
Not too many this time, really, but I’ll add this warning in here just in case.

The line-by-line translation:
“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight”
This line serves to establish a sense of place. We’re high on a mountain, and it’s covered in snow. Snow is cold and barren—maybe this isn’t the best place to be at night.
“Not a footprint to be seen”
Here we see that, besides the singer, there is no one around at all. We are completely and totally alone.
“A kingdom of isolation”
We’re alone. Isolated. There is no other human around for miles and the specific term “isolation” gives the connotation that we may be lonely.
“And it looks like I’m the queen”
This strengthens the previous assumption of loneliness. The Queen of Isolation. Is that a title anyone would really want? Not really. No one wants to be ostracized or isolated.

“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside”
Ah ha. So there is inner turmoil going on. And, from the simile of the howling wind we can see that this isn’t a little thing; this is huge. There’s a storm within the singer, and a decision will have to be reached.
“Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried”
So then, the singer is different somehow. She isn’t normal and she has a secret. Only, from this line, it appears that maybe she doesn’t have that secret anymore. She’s tried her best to hold up the pretense of being normal, but it just hasn’t worked.

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see”
This verse goes back to a time when her secret was still intact. She’s spent her life keeping this inside of her, and it’s apparently been a less than pleasant experience.
“Be the good girl you always have to be”
The singer has spent her life being a “good girl,” and has been denied a real life because of it. This secret of hers consumes her, and she’s finally cracking under the pressure.
“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”
Keep it secret. Don’t let anyone know. Don’t feel. The singer has not only kept to herself all her life, but she’s attempted to cut out feelings. This is something that is impossible to do in the first place, and trying it is difficult and hard on the person. But that doesn’t matter here, because the only important thing is keeping everyone from knowing her secret.
“Well, now they know”
So now we’re back to the present, when the secret has been let out and everyone knows her for what she is. Her pretenses are stripped away. She is different, and everyone knows it. The tone of this line gives the impression that saying these words is like a revelation to the singer. A new life can begin.

“Let it go, let it go”
As long as they know, they may as well see. Now that the secret is out there’s no reason to hide her difference anymore. Finally, she doesn’t have to conceal. She can let it go.
“Can’t hold it back anymore”
There is no more being careful; the singer has tried that, and failed at it. She is exploding in the knowledge that she is finally free to be herself.
“Let it go, let it go”
Repetition of a phrase indicates that this is an important factor. She is cutting loose and holding nothing back.
“Turn away and slam the door”
This line tells us that the singer is done with her previous life. There is no trying to fix this and no going back. She isn’t going to softly close the door behind her, either. She’s going to slam it.
“I don’t care what they’re going to say”
This tells us that she’s made her decision. There are countless people who are going to shun her forever because of this secret, and she couldn’t care less.
“Let the storm rage on”
Remember the line a few verses ago? This line isn’t referring to the howling wind; it’s talking about the swirling storm inside of her. Why try to tame it? She’s spent her life trying not to feel. Why not feel? Why not let her emotions run?
“The cold never bothered me anyway”
She’s never been bothered by the storm. The storm has been going on her whole life, and she’s acclimated to it just fine. Why should she go back to her world of rules and regulations?

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small”
A lifetime of isolation. But suddenly, looking at her life as a whole from farther away, the singer realizes that her problems really aren’t as big as she always thought they were. Freedom was so close that whole time.
“And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all”
So her previous life then was governed by fear. Fear of her secret being discovered. Fear that everyone would know. But, as the song itself says, now they know. That fear is gone. It’s an event that came and went, and now she’s free.

“It’s time to see what I can do”
At long last, she can break loose and be herself.
“To test the limits and break through”
Without a secret to constrict her, she can test the limits of her different ability or quirk. Alone on that mountain, she can be herself for the first time in forever.
“No right, no wrong, no rules for me”
She has always had to be careful. There was always something restricting her, and she couldn’t be herself. But now that’s gone. It’s up to her to control herself, but why should she control it? Why not just let it go? This is her; why not let herself run away with her?
“I’m free”
Freedom. Freedom from rules, freedom from her secret, and freedom from her own fear. She doesn’t have to be self-conscious; she’s different, and different is ok. She doesn’t have to listen to everybody else who tells her to be the same as them.

“Let it go, let it go”
It’s interesting to note that with each repetition of “let it go,” the singer’s voice intensifies. Repetition is a very common way of emphasizing a point, and the escalated intensity is another indicator of a point.
“I am one with the wind and sky”
Like before, there are no more rules for her, because she’s finally free of it. She’s free to ignore social strictures and be as wild and free as she chooses to be.
“Let it go, let it go”
Another repetition. This is a very strong point.
“You’ll never see me cry”
She doesn’t have to go back and she doesn’t have to fear. There is no sadness in freedom.

“Here I stand and here I’ll stay”
The beginning verse tells us that the singer is off alone in the freezing mountains. But the singer doesn’t care. She’s found where she can be herself and she will stay there, no matter what.
“Let the storm rage on”
Let the hate go on! She doesn’t care anymore. She can take whatever anyone wants to throw at her. The beginning of the song talks about a swirling storm inside of her, linking her heart to the storm. This verse talks about the storm inside of her. She can live with it now. Now that she’s free, she can cope, and be happy doing it.

“My power flurries through the air into the ground”
Her newfound revelation doesn’t just effect the current moment; it lasts. The ground and the earth is often used as a metaphor for stability, and it’s use here shows that this freedom flies on the free winds and flurries into the stable ground.
“My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around”
First off, best use of the word “fractals” in a song I’d say. 😉 A fractal is a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena. So this word truly is perfect. Not only does it capture the chaos of this feeling, but it also manages to bring in the fact that each verse and each thought is very similar to all others. This event appears chaotic, but is really very delicately structured.
“And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast”
And icy blast. In the last verse there was chaos that vaguely fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, and here we’re coming to the core. The climax. What all of this leads up to.
“I’m never going back, the past is in the past”
This song is all about realizing newfound freedom, but this is when that thought really strikes home. She’s not going back. That’s it. The past is in the past. She’s not only free of her secret, but she’s free of her past as well. Does that include freedom of consequences? This song certainly gives that impression.

“Let it go, let it go”
Now that the climax of the song has happened the repeated “let it go” is even more powerful. It’s more forceful and, even if it sounds impossible, even more heartfelt than the other repetitions were.
“And I’ll rise like the break of dawn”
Her realization and decision has been made, and she is a new person. She won’t cower in the dark. She will show the world this new girl, and she will take pride in it.
“Let it go, let it go”
This is the last time this line is repeated. During the song she was letting it go; now that is the past tense. She is not letting go. She has let go.
“That perfect girl is gone”
She’s a new person. That other girl, the one who cowered behind her secret for so long, constantly worrying about the secret getting out, no longer exists. The past is in the past, including the past girl herself.
“Here I stand in the light of day”
The light of day. Not only will she show the world her new self with pride in the daylight, she will proclaim it.
“Let the storm rage on”
Ignore the problem.
“The cold never bothered me anyway”
I’ve dealt with it before.

The lessons to be learned:
So, in the end, the decision is not to make a decision. Let the storm rage on. Ignore the problem. Run and hide from it. Why deal with it when she could just stay out here alone—alone and free at last. Why face fear when you can avoid it completely?

Of course, that isn’t a sound decision, because you’re not freed from fear by running from it. Your fear will always be there, and even if it becomes a mere echo in the back of your mind, you’ll never be free of it if you don’t confront it. Running from fear isn’t strong; it shows that you are so afraid you won’t even confront your fear face to face.

But, it is an easy decision to make that a lot of people end up making. Fear is scary.

“But,” you may say, “she’s not ignoring the problem! ‘Here I stand in the light of day!’ She made the decision to start afresh!” Well, it’s like I said. Her decision was to ignore the fact that her actions have consequences. Her decision was to hide from making a decision under the logic that as long as she’s dealt with the problem before, she can continue to do so. Really what she needs to do is deal with it once and for all and get the job done.

So what’s the lesson here? Is it to take this girl as a role model and do as she does? Yes and no. You don’t want to hide behind a secret and you don’t want to hide your true self just to be like the crowd. Like the girl in this song, you should let it go. However, there are rules for everybody. Nobody is above the law and nobody is above consequences. Just because you have come into your own doesn’t mean that you don’t have to deal with the mistakes you made before then.

Face your fears.

Don’t run from them.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

20140101-074248.jpg

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2014 in *Le Literary Analysis

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

Overall rating: 4 stars

Storyline: The cleverest woman in Europe has a choice between betraying her brother or her husband.

I recently read the Scarlet Pimpernel for school, and I really enjoyed it. We did a little literary analysis on it in class, but I, being the insane person that I am, decided I wanted to do more on my own. This is the result.

It’s a fairly short novel, and despite being most often categorized as a romance, it really reads more like an action and adventure book. I found it to be the perfect balance of romance and adventure. Let me put it this way: Whether you like true love or superheroes, this book is sure to entertain you.

——SPOILERS!—–If you don’t want the Scarlet Pimpernel thoroughly spoiled for you, then don’t read this post. Consider yourself warned!

It takes place during the French Revolution, half of it set in England and half in France. The unknown Scarlet Pimpernel is a brave and much admired Englishman who sneaks into France and smuggles out aristocrats from under the revolution’s very nose. Needless to say, the French don’t like him much and the English look up to him as a hero. None know of his true identity. (Sounds sorta like a superhero, wouldn’t you say?)

The protagonist is Lady Marguerite Blakeney, wife of Sir Percy. The first scene is set in fhe Fisherman’s Rest, an inn by a harbor from which one could sail from England to France. The story begins with a large gathering of characters, and really picks up when Margerite secretly bids goodbye to her beloved brother Armand, who is going to sneak back into France to assist the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Almost immediately, it is revealed that Lady Blakeney is in fact a trend-setter in London and is known as the “cleverest woman in Europe” while her husband Sir Percy is, shall we say, of less than average intelligence. It is also revealed early on that Margrueite was partially responsible for the death of several French aristocrats, as she is a native of France and saw it as helping her country. She keeps the whole affair hush-hush as in England such goings on are not looked upon favorably.

Lady Blakeney then has a conversation with a Frenchman named Chauvelin, who is later revealed as the antagonist, about the Scarlet Pimpernel. Chauvelin entreats her to help him find the Scarlet Pimpernel, and even goes so far as to ask her on behalf of her native country, but Margrueite refuses. It is also revealed that Margrueite does in fact admire the Scarlet Pimpernel and wishes very much that she could have married him instead of her own intellectually-impaired husband. They part ways.

We cut back to the Fisherman’s Rest, where two Englishmen, followers of the Scarlet Pimpernel, are discussing business matters. In come several masked men who command the victims to empty their pockets. One of them is found with a letter from none other than Armand. The masked man, who is actually Chauvelin, sees the signature and knows that he now has the motivation needed to convince Margrueite to help him catch the Scarlet Pimpernel. This event serves as the inciting incident.

When presented with the evidence against her brother, Marguerite is easily persuaded to aid in the capture of the Scarlet Pimpernel, hero though he may be. She, through a clever scheme, finds a note left by the Scarlet Pimpernel disclosing his location at a certain time. All she has to do is give the information to Chauvelin and her brother will be protected from harm, according to the deal she had struck up. But should she betray that brave man? Would Armand want her to, if he knew what was happening?

Margruite does decide to give up the Scarlet Pimpernel. She gives Chauvelin the correct information, and he goes to the correct room, but the only person in the room the entire time is Sir Percy, who went in that room to hide from the night’s ball and sleep. The Scarlet Pimpernel must have been warned ahead of time. This serves as the first disaster, which is also known as the end of the first act.

From there, things only get worse. Chauvelin still has the letter which condemns Armand to death, and the Scarlet Pimpernel remains as elusive as ever. Margruite, in desperation, turns to Sir Percy for comfort, only for the confrontation to result in a stronger wall being built between husband and wife. However, Sir Percy promises that he will save Armand from harm.

Sir Percy leaves that night. That morning, she receives a letter from Chauvelin. It is the letter condemning Armand. Margrueite knows that there is only one reason for Chauvelin to have returned it: he is on the track of the Scarlet Pimpernel. This and a few other clues lead Margruite to her answer… Sir Percy, her brainless husband, is a facade. He is the Scarlet Pimpernel.

When she realizes this, Margruite sees that she must get to her husband in time to warn him about Chauvelin’s trap. She sets off immediately for the coast. This is the second disaster, as it occures at almost exactly halfway through the book and is a major twist on the plot.

Once in France, Margruite is unable to warn Sir Percy in time. Chauvelin’s trap has been laid out, and is already beginning. There is no escape this time, and it appears that all is lost. Margruite herself is captured by Chauvelin and is kept in his wagon as they head to the location of the Scarlet Pinpernel as well as his associates, which include Armand.

Margruite is presented with a choice. If she screams to warn her husband, the men inside of the bunker will be killed by Chauvelin’s orders. If she stays quiet, her brother will live, but Sir Percy will not. This is the decision or action that will resolve the conflict, and her decision is the climax.

She screams.

Sir Percy is saved at the expense of Armand and the others in the room, or so Margruite thinks. Chauvelin’s soldiers, while obliged to obey orders, were told to stay at their posts. Individually, they decided that they couldn’t leave and therefore couldn’t stop the men as they left the bunker. All were saved. In a daring rescue Sir Percy saves Margruite and defeats Chauvelin, and all live happily ever after. Well, except for Chauvelin, who is mysteriously never heard from again.

So, why is this such a great book?

Well, first let’s just talk about the themes it’s got. There’s loyalty, for one. The men under the Scarlet Pimpernel are all extremely loyal followers of him and would lay down their lives for him in an instant. In the beginning of the story, Margrueite displays her loyalty to Armand by betraying the unknown Pimpernel to Chauvelin in an attempt to keep her brother safe. However, once it is revealed that the man she betrayed was in fact her own husband, Margrueite goes to extraordinary lengths to atone for her betrayal.

In contrast, you’ve got Chauvelin’s soldiers. They weren’t loyal to Chauvelin; they did only the absolute minimum of what was required from them, and then only on pain of death. They chose to stay at their posts and idly let the Englishmen and aristocrats escape rather than take initiative on behalf of there leader and do what he no doubt wanted.

Obviously the concept of disguises and untruths plays a big part in this book. For the whole first half of it, Margruite is deceived by her own husband’s disguise and doesn’t recognize him as the Scarlet Pimpernel. Margruite kept her motives a secret from her husband, and in return Sir Percy kept his whole life a secret from her. Had they both been honest from the start, their marriage could have been much happier.

Another theme is pride. While the book focuses solely on the view of the wealthy, it also shows that blatant pride is not a virtue. In the beginning of the book, it says “Lady Blakeney leads both fashion and society in London.” She is known as the cleverest woman in Europe, and does reveal pride in her position. However, in the end, Margrueite is reduced to a small, pitiful figure in the clutches of Chauvelin. Where is her pride then? Margrueite proves that pride comes before a fall.

Then there’s Margrueite as a character. She embodies my idea of a strong female character. No good character is flawless; in fact, a flawless character is a broken character. Margrueite had faults. Her pride and her bad decisions that lead to the necessity of conflict. However, she still retained the ability to make her own decisions and speak her mind. This isn’t a contemporary book, and was written in a time where men and women had very different roles. This doesn’t mean that all women characters from back then are put down because of their gender. Margruiete is a very real, tangible character that is well balanced and holds her own throughout the story.

Of course, no book is flawless. One mistake I think it did make was that Marguerite wasn’t introduced until chapter 5 or so. In my experience, the better practice is introducing the protagonist within the first page, or better yet, the first sentence. However, once Margruite is introduced, the story really does pick up. So if you find yourself bored with the first few chapters, try to stick it out at least for a few more.

Also, again in the beginning, too many characters are introduced at once. It’s a major meet-up of ALL the characters, and even includes a couple that shouldn’t even really get named at all. It was admittedly confusing with that many names to keep straight at once. But just keep reading. For me at least, the fogginess of the first scene quickly cleared as I read along.

This actually brings up a rather interesting point. As a future author, I’m always trying to learn from books. Sometimes I learn things to incorporate in my writing and sometimes I learn things to avoid in it. I did find one major thing to avoid in the Scarlet Pimpernel. The first scene.

It was confusing, it didn’t immediately introduce the protagonist, and it didn’t capture my interest. In fact, I will admit that if I hadn’t had to read it for school I would have dropped it after the first chapter. Lucky for me, I had to continue and found it to be the great book that it really is. But that’s an important lesson for aspiring authors.

The first scene is vital. If you don’t hook your reader within the first page, or better yet, first sentence, you will lose readers. Stick with naming only the most important characters, especially at first, and establish the plot right from the start.

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” -2 Corinthians 10:17

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2013 in *Le Literary Analysis

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: