Rather than advance the plot significantly, Dickens uses Book 2 Chapter 21 for what other literary convention in A Tale of Two Cities?
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In this chapter, Dickens allows time to pass quickly while engaging in a symbolic metaphor that foreshadows trouble.
In this chapter, Lucie’s life continues. She grows older, and her family also matures. She has a child. Yet while things are peaceful, we know that they will not remain peaceful long. The shadow of the revolution is falling over Lucie, even though she does not realize it.
Ever busily winding the golden thread which bound her husband, and her father, and herself, and her old directress and companion, in a life of quiet bliss, Lucie sat in the still house in the tranquilly resounding corner, listening to the echoing footsteps of years. (2:21)
Dickens continues his golden thread metaphor, which he uses to describe Lucie’s family and their connection. It stresses the innocence of Lucie and how it envelopes her family in innocence. Unfortunately, her family is threatened. She does not realize this. Although the footsteps of time pass, things will not remain tranquil. Lucie’s family’s connection to the revolution is about to catch up with them.
Although not much happens in this chapter, it is still an important one. It reminds the reader that Lucie and Charles did have some comfortable years. Dickens gives them that, before ripping their lives apart. The foreshadowing of trouble simultaneously with description of comfort parallels Dickens initial opening to the book, when he described how these were both good and bad times, and warned trouble was coming.
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