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Free Study Guide: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - Free BookNotes

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A TALE OF TWO CITIES: LITERATURE NOTES / ANALYSIS

BOOK TWO: The Golden Thread

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Nine Days

Summary

On the morning of the wedding, Lucie, Mr. Lorry, and Miss Pross wait outside Dr. Manette’s room. Inside, the Doctor and Charles Darnay are having a private conference. As they wait, Mr. Lorry cannot stop admiring Lucie; he grows sentimental and teary-eyed as he remembers how he brought her across from France when she was baby. Regaining his composure, Mr. Lorry assures Lucie that he will look after the Doctor while she and Darnay are away on their honeymoon. When Dr. Manette and Darnay emerge from the room, the doctor is shaken and looks deathly pale.

Everyone makes their way to the church for the ceremony. After the wedding, they all return to the Manette home. Darnay and Lucie bid farewell to everyone and leave immediately for their two-week honeymoon. It has been prearranged that Dr. Manette will join them after two weeks.


When Miss Pross, Mr. Lorry, and Dr. Manette are alone, Mr. Lorry notices that a great change has come over the Doctor. He again appears old, scared, and lost; but Lorry decides to say nothing about it to Dr. Manette. He takes his leave and goes to Tellson's Bank to work for several hours. When he returns to the Manettes, he finds Miss Pross in an extremely agitated state. She tells Lorry that the Doctor has been cobbling shoes. Nothing that he or Miss Pross says or does helps the Doctor snap out of his spell. In order to watch over and help with Dr. Manette, Mr. Lorry decides to take a leave of absence from Tellson's Bank. He and Miss Pross also decide to keep the doctor’s reversion a secret from Lucie and everyone else. Dr. Manette continues his cobbling for nine days.

Notes

Darnay's revelation of his true identity confirms Dr. Manette's worst fears. He can hardly believe that Darnay is a member of the Evremonde family, who is responsible for his imprisonment and torture. The doctor is able to control himself through the marriage, for he has earlier promised never to do anything to jeopardize Lucie's happiness. As a result, the wedding takes place without event. His reaction sets in only after the happy couple leave on their honeymoon. He then retreats into his shell and has a vacant and stupefied look on his face. He occupies himself with cobbling shoes.

A parallel can be drawn between Dr. Manette's cobbling and Madame Defarge's knitting. Both are useful occupations that serve as a distraction. The knitting and the cobbling are also both used as a form of revenge. There is also a difference between the two; Dr. Manette cobbles shoes for imaginary people, while the names on Madame Defarges list are those of real people.

Both Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross are shown to be more human than their business-like manner indicates. Miss Pross is totally upset over Dr. Manette’s reversion, and Mr. Lorry takes a leave of absence from the bank in order to help care for him. They both also show their concern for Lucie. Throughout the book, both of them have been present to look after her interests. Now, in order to protect her, they decide to hide the news about her father from Lucie and the outside world as long as is possible.


CHAPTER NINETEEN: An Opinion

Summary

On the tenth day the doctor regains normality and has no memory of the past nine days. By speaking in the third person, Mr. Lorry informs the Doctor of his nine day relapse and that his daughter has not been told of this. He also tries to find out how this relapse occurred and if it will ever happen again. The Doctor assures him that this is not likely to happen again. He tells Mr. Lorry that the relapse occurs due to a painful recollection, which is alleviated by cobbling. In prison, the Doctor had taken up cobbling as a means of occupying himself and as a means of forgetting his mental anguish.

The Doctor agrees to hand over his bench, cobbling tools, and material. The doctor then leaves for a vacation in Wales, where he will join Darnay and Lucie. During his absence, Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross chop the bench into little bits and use it as firewood. They bury the tools, shoes, and leather in the garden.

Notes

It is significant that Dr. Manette does not remember that he has had a setback and spent nine days at his shoemaker's bench cobbling shoes. If the cobbling is an act of revenge, then Dr. Manette has expiated himself of all vengeful feelings. The Doctor's dual personality makes his character more complex than any other character in the novel. Dickens does not make his resurrection a simple process; there are lapses, but he finally gets over any feeling of revenge. Up until this point in the novel, Dr. Manette has been at the receiving end of love and compassion; in the remainder of the novel, it is he who will plead for compassion towards his son-in-law, a victim who is as innocent as he was.


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