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What is your opinion of the scene in which Dr. Manette meets Lucie in the attic room in...

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napilot112 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 30, 2011 at 4:02 PM via web

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What is your opinion of the scene in which Dr. Manette meets Lucie in the attic room in A Tale of Two Cities?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:27 AM (Answer #1)

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While Chapter 6 of Book the First, "The Shoemaker" seems rather contrived and melodramatic.  For instance, when the demented Dr. Manette begins to recognize the golden hair of Lucie as similar to that which he carries in a dingy little packet, Lucie falls upon her knees as his tone of voice softens in remembrance of his wife.  In a Victorian melodramatic line--one that Dickens's audiences would have enjoyed--Lucie utters her maudlin plea, 


"If you touch, in touching my hair, anything that recalls a beloved head that lay in your breast when you were young and free, weep for it, weep for it!...If I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!"

This passage is one that critics point to as how Dickens has a very stylized nature that demonstrates the influence the Victorian stage.  As one writes,

Throughout the novel we see Dickens managing his characters like a theater director, emphasizing the dramatic gesture, the physical trait, the coincidence, as though his tremendous energy must inevitably explode into action, whether comic or melodramatic.  Even in his grotesque moments such as Mr. Lorry's questioning of the dead man in his dreams, Dickens converts the morbid into somehting spirited and purposeful.

This melodrama does, however, afford Dickens a scene in which he can depict the horrors of Doctor Mannette's imprisonment, the inner strength of Lucie Mannette as the Victorian heroine, as well as introduction of the motif of "the golden thread."  As such, this chapter is rhetorical in its use of metaphoric language with Lucie's hair as "the golden thread," returning Dr. Manette's memory to him; and with the metaphor of the shoemaker indicating the destruction to the pride and person of the physician. 

Of course, this chapter is pivotal as it initiates the development of the theme of Resurrection.  In addition, it is the catalyst for the action between London and Paris.  Certainly, there is much foreshadowing in this dramatic chapter.

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:32 AM (Answer #2)

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