68 pages 2 hours read

John Fowles

The French Lieutenant's Woman

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1969

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Chapters 13-24Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 13 Summary

The narrator confesses that he cannot really know his characters, as he is only playing the role of the omniscient narrator from Victorian fiction. He is writing in the 1960s and his novel may not even be a novel. He describes Sarah standing at her window and wonders how she would react to his presence. Thinking about the way in which writers build worlds, the defiance of a world’s characters makes it seem more real. Charles, for example, defied the narrator by visiting the dairy rather than immediately returning to Lyme Regis. The narrator respects Charles’s “autonomy” (97) and he insists that he must respect his characters’ freedom to make choices. This freedom is a modern invention, he says, which is not typical of Victorian literature. The narrator reiterates that his characters are real; even in the real world, he notes, people fictionalize their own lives. He returns to Sarah, who cries at her window but does not throw herself from it. She ignores her promise to Mrs. Poulteney and returns to Ware Commons along a more secretive route. Mrs. Poulteney prepares to dine with her nemesis, Lady Cotton.