What is the significance in the "The Night Shadows" when Lorry has a dream in A Tale of Two Cities?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lorry’s dream foreshadows not only Dr. Manette’s return, but also the possible difficulties it will cause.

Lorry is feeling a little uneasy about recalling Dr. Manette to life.  He falls asleep and has a dream that seems to confirm that uneasiness.  In the dream, the metaphors turn into reality.  Dr. Manette is a ghost that Lorry has brought back to life, and he does not understand why he has been recalled.

“I hope you care to live?”

“I can’t say.”

“Shall I show her to you? Will you come and see her?” (Book 1, Ch 3, p. 11)

Dr. Manette tells Lorry that he has abandoned all hope of being dug out.  When Lorry digs him out, he is not quite sure what is going on.  Does he want to live?  He does not know.  It demonstrates Lorry’s uneasiness about bringing Manette back from the dead.  He is not sure Manette is ready.

Got out at last, with earth hanging about his face and hair, he would suddenly fall away to dust. (p. 11)

These events foreshadow the trouble Dr. Manette has with being freed from jail.  Although on the surface leaving jail is a wonderful thing, his mind has been someone shattered.  The jail and its death-like existence is all he knows.  Being taken out of that comfort zone is frightening to Dr. Manette, and Jarvis Lorry knows it.  He is worried that Manette will never fully recover.  When he asks Dr. Manette if he will come and see Lucie in the dream, the answers are “various and contradictory” with Manette sometimes crying and asking to see her and sometimes saying it will kill him if he sees her too soon.

Dr. Manette is imprisoned through no fault of his own.  Yet he has been there for eighteen years.  As they discuss in the dream, this is a long time.  He does not know Lucie.  He is both ready to see her and terrified.  He struggles with the relapses of his mind several times, whenever he comes across a situation he cannot face.

With these events, Dickens prepares us for a world that is not black and white.  Even supposedly welcome events have consequences, and things are not going to be easy for these people.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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