Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Defending Marguerite Blakeney

Marguerite Blakeney gets a bad rap. Get over it, people.

The end. :-D

Ok, seriously. While I was looking around for the interviews I mentioned in an earlier post, I hit upon a phenomenon in the World Wide Web…

Many, many people labor under the delusion that Marguerite Blakeney is a wimp.

Thus the post. :-)

Actually, it was a combination of stuff. Right after looking for that, I was talking to Miss Dashwood and we were discussing the Epic Prison Scene in Eldorado and how Marguerite is "less wimpy" than some other books she's in (the garden scene in The Elusive Pimpernel comes to mind as one of her less-than-heroine-material moments). Which got me to thinking, wimpy (if at all) is she, really?

I love Marguerite. She’s one of those heroines that I painfully identify with. We often do things before we think through them. We both have a huge passion for life. We’re both so beautiful people can’t stop talking about it (ha…just seeing if you were paying attention. :-P). We are both passionately in love with Sir Percy Blakeney. Unfortunately, she’s married to him and I’m not. Thus the comparisons abruptly end.

Anyway. So I’d just like to speak my opinion on Marguerite.
Ok, so in the first book she’s a bit dim-witted. Ok, so yes, more often than not in the series she is responsible for making Percy’s scrapes even scrapeyer (I have the right to make up my own words. As Amy Adams’ character says in Night in the Museum 2, “It’s the way I speak.”). But people! After much observation, I have changed my mind. (Hey, I'm admitting I was wrong! Admirable, no? :-P) 

Marguerite is not a wimp.

So maybe in the first few books she has a hard time letting go and accepting Percy’s mission in life. She has a hard time letting him go, risking his life when she knows that he very well may never come back. Can you blame her?    


This past week I’ve started reading Lord Tony’s Wife (and Sir Percy Leads the Band…and Sir Percy Hits Back…and The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Reading four TSP books at once is simply delish), and Marguerite gets a cameo in this story, which is nice…I was missing her. Anyway, Baroness Orczy finally says what I’ve been waiting to hear, putting perfectly into words how I feel about this character. In my opinion, despite her tears, occasional drama, and sometimes lack of substantial grey matter when it comes to plots and traps, she’s one of the strongest heroines in literature, and this is why.  (Emphasis mine, by the way).

All those who knew Marguerite Blakeney these days marvelled if she was ever unhappy. Lady Ffoulkes, who was her most trusted friend, vowed that she was not. She had moments—days—sometimes weeks of intense anxiety, which amounted to acute agony. Whenever she saw her husband start on one of those expeditions to France wherein every minute, every hour, he risked his life and more in order to snatch yet another threatened victim from the awful clutches of those merciless Terrorists, she endured soul-torture such as few women could have withstood who had not her splendid courage and her boundless faith.

 But against such crushing sorrow she had to set off the happiness of those reunions with the man whom she loved so passionately—happiness which was so great, that it overrode and conquered the very memory of past anxieties. Marguerite Blakeney suffered terribly at times—at others she was overwhelmingly happy—the measure of her life was made up of the bitter dregs of sorrow and the sparkling wine of joy! No! she was not altogether unhappy: and gradually that enthusiasm which irradiated from the whole personality of the valiant Scarlet Pimpernel, which dominated his every action, entered into Marguerite Blakeney's blood too.

His vitality was so compelling, those impulses which carried him headlong into unknown dangers were so generous and were actuated by such pure selflessness, that the noble-hearted woman whose very soul was wrapped up in the idolised husband, allowed herself to ride by his side on the buoyant waves of his enthusiasm and of his desires: she smothered every expression of anxiety, she swallowed her tears, she learned to say the word "Good-bye" and forgot the word "Stay!"
-Lord Tony’s Wife

A woman who could support her man in such a dangerous mission is a woman to be applauded. Her steadfast, unwavering love was his anchor, was what gave him courage to continue, and motivated him in tight spots to keep going and survive to return home to her. Behind every man is a great woman, and Sir Percy Blakeney, the greatest hero in literature (it’s my post, I can say what I want) is no exception. When Marguerite stands the kind of situation that few women could without breaking, who can begrudge her a few tears?

(And side note here…Jane Seymour’s portrayal of Marguerite in TSP1982 was spot-on in her portrayal of the strength of the character. It’s a great place to start if you want to see what Marguerite’s like.  Plus it’s one of the greatest films of all time. The end)
So puleeze, Marguerite-bashers, give the gal a break. Try putting yourself in her place for a while and see what a wimp you’d be. J As for myself, I see Marguerite as an example of a true, supportive, and loving wife, the kind of wife I want to be to a husband someday, if I am lucky enough to get a Sir Percy. Except the unintentional scrapes, of course J. This couple’s love and devotion to each other is the reason they’re my favorite literary couple, and her support of her husband is one (of many) reasons why she is one of my top favorite literary heroines.   


She had not interrupted him while he spoke. At first she just lay in his arms, quiescent and listening, nerving herself by a supreme effort not to utter one sigh of misery or one word of appeal. Then, as her knees shook under her, she sank back into a chair by the hearth and he knelt beside her with his arms clasped tightly round her shoulders, his cheek pressed against hers. He had no need to tell her that duty and friendship called, that the call of honour was once again—as it so often has been in the world—louder than that of love. She understood and she knew, and he, with that supersensitive instinct of his, understood the heroic effort which she made.

"Your love, dear heart," he whispered, "will draw me back safely home as it hath so often done before. You believe that, do you not?"

And she had the supreme courage to murmur: "Yes!"

- Lord Tony’s Wife


Miss Dashwood said...

Reads first paragraph, giggles hysterically. Reads body of post, nods and smiles and sighs. Reads last quote, chokes up.

Yep, that's what I call a good blog post. :)

You've won me over, m'dear. Not that I wasn't pretty much won over already-- but any doubt left in my mind has been eradicated from those Lord Tony's Wife snippets. My apologies, Marguerite. You're a fine girl with no ---- nonsense about you.

Except at the end of the original TSP-- all the, "oh, Percy, carry me, my feet hurt" is, you have to admit, a little wimpy. Because HE just got beat up by a gang of soldiers, and all she did was... follow him. Without shoes, granted, but... yeah. And then of course he does carry her even though he did just get beat up, and, y'know, that's why he's the hero and not her. Or maybe that was just because HE had shoes on.

I digress.

You are so completely and totally right about her courage in letting him go-- in that garden scene in TEP, she's quite... annoying, shall we say... but really you can't blame her. The guys in the League may be incredibly brave and wiling to march into death for an heavenly cause :D but it takes some real courage to stay back and wait for them to come home. IF they come home. So yes, bravo, Marguerite!!

Hahaha, your comparison of yourself to Marguerite was probably my favorite part. And I WAS paying attention, just so ya know. :P "Unfortunately, she's married to him and I'm not." Heehee.

I liked this. A lot. ;)

Victoria said...

I agree!!! :)

To have a husband who does what Sir Percy does would quickly set apart the wimp-wives from the true-wives. While Marguerite DOES struggle with it at first (wouldn't any of us?), she eventually learns to stand strong behind her husband. (probably making him even better at what he does. Because, as the saying goes, 'behind every great man, is a great woman.')

I think we can learn from her ... because way down deep, wouldn't we all be that annoying-wimp-heroine that we're so quick to accuse her of? It's easy to point fingers :)

haha! We'll see what the future holds. If you DO marry a Sir Percy, you will definitely be one of the true-heroine-wives. (and if you start to wimp out, I'll be waving TSP books in your face. :)

Abby said...

This perfectly sums up why Marguerite's one of my favourite heroines...she's one of those characters that can be easy to find annoying at times (the constant weeping particularly!), but like you say, she shows great strength and courage that I think is very admirable.
I have Lord Tony's Wife waiting to be read on my Kindle, so now I really must start reading it! That last quote...ahhh I have to start reading this book right away! :D


Alexandra said...

Miss Dashwood - Well, I did say that she was "a bit dim-witted" in the first book...we'll stick being a bit, ya know, un-heroine-like on there, too. :-D Besides, like you said, it gives him a chance to be the Big Strong Hero Even Though He's Beat Up.

(I faint).

Anyway. Glad you enjoyed the post! That email inspired it, so thanks to you and all that, you know. :-P

And in the early days I was tempted to form the "Kill Off Marguerite Club" to marry Percy...but it would break his heart, and so I decided to be Very Noble and resist the urge. Besides, I love them as a couple, anyway. Percy wouldn't be Percy without Marguerite. :-)

Tori - hehehe. Right. I will be moaning and groaning - WHAT have I done?!?!?! And you slap me with the TSP books. :-P As you said, we shall see. (giggles and rubs hands together :-D)

Abby - Oooh, I hope you enjoy it!!! I'm really enjoying it so's a different idea, but very nice. And Percy gets a lot of "screen" time, which I like.

Hayden said...

Oh, lovely dear! Your similarities to M. Were hilarious! I didn't love Margeruite at first, though I never even then thougt of her as a "wimp", but even so, she does grow on one enormously.

Who are these people who dislike her so? Let us bombard them with cyber tomatoes...

Just kidding:)

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! Made me mad at some people, though... Seriously!

You're totally right. Marguerite is NOT a wimp. Yes, she had her moments, but she's a great heroine - better than some today (without mentioning any names...).

Loved that quote, too! I'll be reading 'Lord Tony's Wife' next - it's been waiting on my sister's Kindle for a while now!

Yes, expect to be getting some book slaps from me, too... Kidding! : )


Anna said...

I agree. Her "wimpiness" of begging him to stay simply shows her love for him. As she grows to love him more she understands who he is truly is, the amazing, brave, courageous, sacrificial, strong, incredible, wonderful... man he is and I could go on but you get the point. By loving him as himself she gradually lets him go to be who he is. And of course he always comes back to the woman he loves!

I love your extra comments in small print. They're quite entertaining to read. : )