The French Lietenant's Woman Author:John Fowles The novel's protagonist is Sarah Woodruff, the title Woman, also known by the nickname of ?Tragedy?, and by the unfortunate nickname ?The French Lieutenant?s Whore?. She lives in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, as a disgraced woman, supposedly ill-used by a French naval officer, named Varguennes, who returned to France, and turned out married. — ... more »Sarah is portrayed ambiguously: is she a genuine, ill-used woman, the product of the French Lieutenant?s lust? Is she a sly, manipulative character using her own self-pity to get Charles to succumb to her? Is she merely a victim of the notion of gender as perceived in upper-middle-class Victorian society?
She spends her limited time-off at the Cobb [sea wall], staring at the sea. One day, she is seen there by the gentleman Charles Smithson and his fianc?e, Ernestina Freeman, the shallow daughter of a wealthy tradesman. Ernestina tells Charles something of Sarah?s story, and he develops a strong curiosity about her. In the event, he and she meet clandestinely, during which times Sarah tells Charles her history, and asks for his support, mostly emotional. Despite trying to remain distant, Charles ends up sending Sarah to Exeter, where he, during a journey, cannot resist stopping in to visit and see her. Simultaneously, he learns that his prospective inheritance from an elder uncle is in jeopardy; the uncle is engaged to a woman young enough to bear him an heir.
From there, the novelist offers three different endings for The French Lieutenant?s Woman.« less