In A Tale of Two Cities, what do Mr. Lorry's traits suggest about his capacity for love, loyalty, and steadiness under pressure?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter I of Book the Second, Tellson's Bank is described as a metaphoric prison in which one enters as a young man, but is hidden until he becomes old.  Thus, the "oldest of men carried on the business gravely."  With so many years of service at the institution of the bank, Mr. Lorry has become what he calls "a man of business." When he first encounters Lucy Manette in Chapter IV of Book the First, he is described as possessing a "composed and reserved expression," and he assures Lucy that he has no time for feelings. He encourages Lucy, too, to consider her meeting with her long-lost father as "a matter of business--business that must be done" urging her to be "clear-headed." A life-long bachelor, Mr. Lorry has devoted himself to his work.  He is neat in appearance with a crisp white linen that surrounds a face "habitually suppressed and quieted" into a "reserved expression." His age and reserve provide Mr.Lorry with much self-control.

His years of devoted work at Tellson's Bank provide him with a composure that cannot be shaken under traumatic circumstances.  He conducts his social duties in much the same way as those of his at the bank, speaking quietly and reasonably to others.  When, for instance, a traumatized Dr. Manette resumes his shoemaking after learning of Darnay's true identity, Mr. Lorry speaks to the physician as though he were discussing a third person and ask Dr. Manette what he should do with a friend who has suffered some "mental shock":

[Mr. Lorry] spoke with the diffidence of a man who knew how slight a thing would overset the delicate organisation of the mind, and yet with the confidence of a man who had slowly won his assurance out of personal endurance and distress.

Always Mr. Lorry speaks and acts calmly; in addition, the loyal and protective friend keeps this knowledge of Manette's breakdown from Lucie.

In Book the Third, there is never any hesitation on the part of Mr. Lorry to assist the Manette family.  When Sydney Carton calls upon him to aid in his plans to get Charles Darnay, ne Evremonde, out of prison so he and his family can escape from France, there is not the least show of fear in the seventy-eight year old Lorry.  He tells Sydney Carton who speaks of his plan to exchange his place for Darnay's,

"...it does not all depend on one old man, but I shall have a young and ardent man at my side."

Carton's manner is described as "fervent and inspiring, and Mr. Lorry "caught the flame, and was as quick as youth." A loyal and steadfast friend, Mr. Lorry devotes himself to the Manette family with the surety with which he conducts business for Tellson's Bank.  His love for his friend Dr. Manette is absolutely steadfast as is his devotion to Lucie Manette and her husband Charles Darnay.

 

 

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