What is the subject of Mr. Lorry's dream?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You only get one question, I'm afraid; so I'll answer the first, which I presume is the most important. In A Tale of Two Cities, chapter 3, Jarvis Lorry is all bundled up in a coach with several other riders.  As he being jounced along the road, he has a dream.  First, he's in the familiar Tellson's Bank--the place in which he has invested his entire life.  Then his dream gets a bit odd.

A rather eerie figure appears in the dream, something Lorry calls "a spectre."  a similar event will happen three times in the dream, with just a slight variation.  Lorry begins to dig the man out, asking how long he's been alive.  The answer is "almost 18 years," and the spectre is asked if he cares to be "recalled to life."  The answers are yes, maybe, and no, a different answer in each dream scenario.  Jarvis also asks the spectre three times if he want to see "her."

“Shall I show her to you? Will you come and see her?”

The answer to this varies each time, ranging from a strong yes to a definite no. 

These images will soon be revealed as real people and real events in the novel.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The dream and visions of Mr. Lorry in Chapter 3 of Great Expectations are very significant to the developing motif of duality.  In the previous  chapter, entitled "Night Shadows," Dickens rhetorically reflects that "every creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other." In every room of every house there is a secret enclosed.  Now, in the latter part of this chapter, both the spiked hair messenger, Jerry Cruncher," and Mr. Lorry wonder who is "recalled to life."

In addition to the motif of duality, the theme of Redemption is introduced, a theme most significant.  Jerry, the reader later learns, calls himself a "resurrection man," and the man who has been buried eighteen years is also redeemed physically and spiritually.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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