In Tale of Two Cities Book II reflect on Darnay's decision to go to Fance. Does it seem believable?Is he fully aware of the danger he is in ?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This part of the novel comes in Chapter 24 in Book II, entitled "Drawn to the Loadstone Rock". Darnay receives a letter which is actually for him in his former identity as being the Evremonde heir. This letter narrates the desperate position that his servant, Gabelle, is in, after following his orders. He is trapped in prison and likely to be executed for his upper-class associations. Gabelle writes:

For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of your noble name, I supplicate you, Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, to succour and release me. My fault is, that I have been true to you. Oh Monsieur heretofore the Marquis, I pray you be you true to me!

These words of a servant whose only crime was "fidelity" to himself and his family stirs Darnay into remembrance of how he left France suddenly without tidying up all the loose ends:

He knew he ought to have systematically worked it out and supervised it, and that he had meant to do it, and that it had never been done.

Darnay therefore feels a huge amount of guilt at the imprisonment of his servant, who he feels responsible for. The text continues to say that he is well aware that the property of nobles in France was being confiscated and destroyed and "there very names were blotting out", and so it appears he is well aware of the danger. However, he goes on to reason, he himself is not responsible for any oppression or cruely. Indeed, Gabelle was looking after the estate with explicit written instructions to help the people as much as possible. Dickens concludes:

This favoured the desperate resolution that Charles Darnay had begun to make, that he would go to Paris.

Thus Darnay does seem to be aware of the danger, however, one must ask why the resolution he makes to go to Paris is described as "desperate" - is Darnay slightly naive in believing that, even though he had good intentions, he will not be in trouble because of his noble descent? Or is he the kind of man that thinks so well of everyone else that he could not contemplate such injustice? This part of the story does show what kind of a man Darnay is: good, honourable and seeking to help others, even at risk to his own life.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the title of Chapter 24 is extremely significant in establishing the verisimilitude of the action of this chapter.  Since a lodestone is an iron-containing rock with magnetic properties, the symbolism of the title helps to explain why Darnay feels compelled to return to France.

For, this lodestone recalls for the reader Charles Darnay's mother's premonition that the sins of the father would haunt the son and that he must make reparation somehow.  Therefore, with this idea established earlier in the novel, the credibility of Darnay's sense of obligation drawing him to the lodestone of his home is validated.  In addition, there is the innate tendency in Darnay as an aristocrat to believe in noblesse oblige, so he feels the obligation to his servant, as well.

Thus, keeping in mind also Darnay's kind and noble heart that has led him to help Lucie in their first meeting and renounce his wicked uncle's fortune, his decision to return to France even though he knows the danger is believable because it is in character with the honorable Charles Darnay.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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