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YMMV / The Scarlet Pimpernel

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The original novel

  • Iron Woobie: Lady Marguerite Blakeney.
  • It Was His Sled: The dramatic revelation, two-thirds of the way through, that the demmed idiot Sir Percy Blakeney is the Scarlet Pimpernel, to the point that no adaptations try to hide this.
  • Older Than They Think: The idea of a rich playboy using Obfuscating Stupidity to disguise his vigilante persona? Superman and Batman got their inspirations from him.
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  • Protagonist Title Fallacy: Poor Marguerite...
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Chauvelin, for one, would be guilty of unforgiveable Genre Blindness... except his genre didn't exist yet.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Modern readers would find the Jew who aids Percy despite the potential danger to himself and his family much more heroic than Orczy would probably have intended.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • It was easier in the earlier 20th century to completely vilify the French Revolution and have more sympathy for the French aristocracy. Granted the titular hero focused his attentions on innocent families, and considering the events following the revolution, it's easier to sympathize with the people being rescued.
    • Similarly, the depiction of the Jewish prisoner or rather, Sir Percy's depiction of the Jewish prisoner might be read with some discomfort by modern readers. Note that Percy is deliberately playing to the Frenchmen's prejudices.
      • There's also perhaps a touch of Reality Subtext here: at the time the Baroness wrote the novel France was still hashing out the Dreyfus Affair, which wouldn't be satisfactorily resolved until 1906.
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  • Values Resonance: Despite the above issues, in a broad sense, depicting rescuing persecuted refugees and helping them resettle in a new country seems even more relevant amid a number of serious refugee crises in the twenty-first century.

The sequel novels


The adaptations

  • Awesome Music: The song The Scarlett Pimpernel from the musical.
  • Complete Monster:
    • 1937's The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Maximilien Robespierre is the head of the Committee that rules France. Responsible for the Reign of Terror, Robespierre sentences countless people to the guillotine, enemies of the state and rivals alike. Plotting his own coup and a purge of any potential rivals, Robespierre also sends his agent Chauvelin to kidnap the Pimpernel, Percy Blakeney's wife Marguerite, while she is pregnant, deciding to have her sent to the guillotine regardless of her value as a hostage before providing twenty more names to be arrested and executed.
    • 1982 TV film
    • Musical: Citizen Chauvelin is a ruthless agent of The French Revolution who delights in sentencing people to the guillotine, opening the musical with the execution of the good-hearted Marquis de St. Cyr. Hunting others to send to their beheadings, Chauvelin also blackmails his former lover Marguerite by threatening to ruin her marriage to Percy Blakeney, also using the threat of her brother's execution to control her. Intending on killing them all when he realizes Percy is the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel, Chauvelin embraces nothing so much as spite and rage in his attempt to purge all he despises.
  • Evil Is Sexy: One female viewer wrote to the Radio Times regarding the 1997 series, asking if she was the only one to find Martin Shaw's Chauvelin far more attractive than Richard E. Grant's Sir Percy.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The 1982 version features Ian McKellen as Chauvelin in one of his first recognizable roles.
  • The Woobie: The 1999 TV version has Tony Dewhurst, played by Jamie Bamber in the middle of the Professional Woobie stage of his career. Such a Cutie and killed off so quickly, becoming the first of many of Bamber's characters to bite the dust (adding insult to injury is that Dewhurst did not die in the books the series is based on). TV Tropes send the guy a hug.

Alternative Title(s): The Scarlet Pimpernel 1934