A Tale of Two Cities Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What effect does Madame Defarge have on Lucie when the Defarges visit Lucie's apartment in Tale of Two Cities?

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Lucie, so grateful for the note from her husband which Defarge has transported, at first turns to Madame Defarge to kiss her hand.  Lucie's action is "a passionate, loving, thankful, womanly action", but Madame Defarge chillingly makes no response; her hand "drop(s) cold and heavy, and (takes) to its knitting again".  Lucie recoils with fear, "putting the note in her bosom, and with her hands yet at her neck, look(s) terrified at Madame Defarge".  The malevolence that Madame Defarge exudes is almost palpable, and Dickens uses the symbols of darkness and light to illustrate this effect.  With her golden hair and loving nature, Lucie is symbolized by light, but Madam Defarge threatens that light with the darkness of her hate.  Dickens develops the symbolism of darkness and light, saying,

"The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge  and her party seem(s) to fall so threatening and dark on the child, that her mother (Lucie) instinctively kneel(s) on the ground beside her, and (holds) her to her breast.  The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seem(s) then to fall, threatening and dark, on both the mother and the child" (Book the Third, Chapter 3).

Doctor Manette finds a sense of purpose when he realizes that he can help Darnay.  He becomes focused and efficient, navigating through the crazed masses and presenting himself to the Tribunal at the Bastille as "a notable sufferer under the over-thrown system", and pleading for the safety of his son-in-law.  Although he cannot get Darnay released, he is assured that "the prisoner...should, for his sake, be held inviolable in safe custody".  It is granted that Dr. Manette be allowed to remain in "the Hall of Blood" to ensure his son-in-law's well-being "until the danger (is) over".

Through being able to help Darnay, the object of his daughter's love, Dr. Manette finds meaning in the eighteen years of imprisonment he was forced to endure.  His suffering has given him "strength and power", and he says,

"It all tended to a good end...it was not mere waste and ruin.  As my beloved child was helpful in restoring me to myself, I will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her, by the aid of Heaven" (Book the Third, Chapter 4).

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