What is the mood of chapter 2 of A Tale of Two Cities? What does the phrase "Recalled to Life" mean?

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rareynolds's profile pic

rareynolds | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The mood of the second chapter, in which Jerry the messenger overtakes the carriage carrying Mr Jarvis, is one of suspsense. Dickens' handling of this episode is actually quite cinematic: much of the suspense comes from the sounds -- of the pounding hoofs, and of the strained conversation between Jerry and the coachman -- because it takes place in the dark. When we see Jerry at last, he is covered in mud from head to toe -- clearly he has been travelling a great distance at speed to overtake Jarvis. Jarvis's mysterious answer to the message Jerry bears -- "Recalled to life" -- only enhances the overall mood of suspense. It's really quite easy to imagine seeing all this unfold in your head.

The meaning of the phrase "Recalled to life" is not clear in this chapter, but we learn that it applies to Dr Mannette, who was imprisoned in the Bastille. "Recalled to life" is an official euphemism for being released from prison. In the context of the chapter, the phrase means that Jarvis is well and on his way to Dover to travel to France in search of his friend Mannette. The phrase also suggests that Jarvis's mission, to reunite the Doctor with his daughter, is also an attempt to redeem the doctor, or "recall" him to life (in England, naturally!).

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The mood of chapter 2 is dark and uncertain. It is late at night and the roads are muddy.  There is a mist rising and the coachman is filled with fear of robbers.  This mood of darkness and fear parallels the darkness of Dr. Manette's prison and the moral darkness of Revolutionary France.

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