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A TALE OF TWO CITIES: LITERATURE NOTES / ANALYSIS
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.
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.
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.
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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. 04 June 2008