What is the relationship of Jarvis Lorry's dream to the literal events of the novel?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After receiving the message and responding to it by saying "Recalled to Life," Jarvis Lorry continues his ride on the coach to Dover, England on the coastline of the English Channel.  As he dozes on this coach with the night shadows hiding the faces of the occupants, "A hundred times the...passenger inquired of this spectre:  'Buried how long?'"

In Chapter III of Book the First, Mr. Lorry ponders what this resurrection of Dr. Manette will be like for the man who has figuratively buried for eighteen years as he was incarcerated in the Bastille.  In wonderment, Mr. Lorry exclaims,

"Gracious Creator of Day!  To be buried alive for eighteen years!"

 This resurrection of a man from his burial in prison, a symbol of the grave for Dickens, is the introduction of the important theme of Death and Resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities.  Along with Mr. Lorry, Lucie Manette effects the return to life for her father as he recognizes her golden hair and recalls his former existence as a physician and husband and father. Tragically, however, as a man brought back to life, Dr. Manette cannot shake off the effect that his incarceration, burial, and his being brought back to society have had on his mind.  Several times he regresses to his prison occupation of making shoes; however, with the love of his daughter and his own forgiveness for Darney, ne Evremonde, he is able to survive.

And, as a novel of dualities, this theme of resurrection is treated rather humorously with respect to Jerry Cruncher.  Digging up cadavers for physicians, Jerry euphemistically calls himself "a resurrection man."  Instead of mourners who were present for the funeral of these cadavers, Mrs. Cruncher instead "flops' onto the floor in prayer, begging the Lord to forgive her husband's sins.  Jerry, of course, returns no love to his wife; instead he accuses her of being an "Aggrawayter."  Ironically, however, it is Jerry's illegal occupation which leads him to the discovery that John Basard and Roger Cly and Solomon Pross are all the same man.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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