|Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)|
Do you ever feel like you're wearing a facade? Like what the world sees is not who you really are underneath?
Whenever I watch The Scarlet Pimpernel, I always ponder the difficulties of pretending to be an idiotic fop in front of the entire world. Percy is a first-class hero, one that should have really existed, a man who risked his life going into Paris and rescuing doomed members of the aristocracy during the French Revolution. Yet, to all but a few trusted associates, he is nothing more than a buffoon who cares more about his perfectly tied cravat than human lives.
Does anyone ever wonder how this affected him? Was it hard for him, knowing that his peers, the people in his circle of influence that didn't know his secret, thought him a fop? It would have killed me, hearing those whispers behind my back, the slight derision and condescension in their tones. Even the Prince of Wales finds Percy to be excessively absurd. So, why does Percy put forward this facade of idiocy? To protect the people in his life, and those who he rescues.
This is what makes Percy a hero. He is willing to suffers the "slings and arrows" of his peers in order to save lives. Not once does Percy give the implication that he suffers from the mocking words or glances. No, instead he merely puffs himself up like a peacock and plays the fop even more determinedly than before. Why? Because he does not care what others might think of him. The more they ridicule, the more he knows his plan is working.
One of the things I admire most is how he does what needs to be done regardless of the thoughts and whispers of others. He knows his own mind, knows what he wants to do, and he's grateful for this facade he's created that will allow him to perform his rescue missions with anonymity. Percy understands that his personal comfort and safety mean nothing when lives are at stake. He is the epitome of a hero because he puts the safety of others first and himself last, always.
|The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel|
The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel is made up of gentlemen, like himself, men of courage and fortitude who cannot agree with the actions of the French peasantry in murdering their aristocracy. Unlike many such men in England, however, Percy actually acts upon his conviction. He sees a wrong, and he takes positive steps to right it. He implements his plan, and to do that successfully, he needs that mask. No one would ever imagine that Sir Percival Blakeney, the most foppish man in London society, could be The Scarlet Pimpernel in disguise. By his behavior and mannerisms, he protects his associates as well, the facade of the fop covering almost everyone in his company.
Perhaps this is what makes Percy's love for Marguerite so profoundly sincere. For everyone outside the League, he plays the fop. But he can't do it with her, not easily, and it breaks his heart when he must. More on their romance next time . . .
Note: Next post on the agenda is: By the Pricking of My Thumbs: The Trouble with Tommy scheduled for release on Friday, 2/7. Enjoy!