A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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In "A Tale of Two Cities," why is Charles arrested again on the day of his release? (Book III, Chapter 7)

In "A Tale of Two Cities," why is Charles arrested again on the day of his release?

(Book III, Chapter 7)

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Charles Darnay has been given an all too brief taste of freedom, but sadly it's not to last. One evening, while eating dinner with his family, there's a sudden knock at the door. Four thuggish looking men inform Charles that he's being re-arrested on the basis of accusations made against him. One of the people named is the wicked Madame Defarge, and there can be little doubt that she's the driving force behind Charles's re-arrest. As well as being a fanatical revolutionary, she's also a complete and utter sadist. It's not enough that Charles should be sentenced to death; he must first be lulled into a false sense of security, making him think that he's safe when in actual fact he's doomed.

Even worse, Charles is being condemned, not for something he's done but for what he is. According to the revolutionaries, he's a traitor simply for being an aristocrat. It doesn't matter that he hasn't actually committed any crimes. The entirely justified accusations made by Dr. Manette against Charles's wicked uncle are being cynically used to destroy him for purely political purposes.

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linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The men who come to arrest Darnay refuse to tell him why they are taking him, but when Doctor Manette demands to know, they tell him that Darnay has been denounced to the court at Saint Antoine by the Defarges and one other person. They won't say who that other person is.

In chapter 10, we find out who that third person is, and it comes as a shock. Doctor Manette had been called to treat a woman who had been raped by one of the St. Evremonde brothers. He is unable to help her, and she dies. The St. Evremondes had also killed the woman's brother, who had sought revenge for his sister. When Dr. Manette tried to reveal what had happened, the St. Evremonde brothers arrange for him to be arrested instead. Manette swore a curse on the whole family, wrote his story, and hid it in a hole in the chimney. The Defarges found it, and so Dr. Manette is the third denouncer.

Charles Darnay is the son of the elder St. Evremonde brother. He is being made to pay for a crime committed by his father. 

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