The French Lieutenant's Woman By John Fowles Summary and Analysis Chapters 45-46

At last, we realize the "truth" about the events of the novel: At Exeter, Charles decided to stop for the night, not consciously realizing it, but intending all the same to visit Sarah. He still believes that his visit is nothing more than an attempt to end the affair in a fashionably Victorian way.

Charles finds Sarah's hotel and goes to her room, where she is resting an injured foot. They speak of minor things and Charles is overcome by the realization that he came, not to say goodbye, but simply because he felt compelled to see her again. The embrace and, finally acknowledging their passion, he carries her to bed.

Fowles notes at the end of the chapter that this passionate scene occurred in only ninety seconds. The implication is that Fowles takes a rather ironic attitude towards the concept of the romantic novel, since all that "love" seems to amount to is a few words and a brief coupling. Even the most passionate moments, he seems to say, are only a small portion of existence. This ironic tone will occur again, especially in scenes that are supposedly typical of romantic novels.

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