Why does Jarvis Lorry pretend that Dr. Manette's illness has happened to a fictional "friend" in Chapter 19 of Book the Second?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite his protests that he is merely "a man of business," the old bachelor and representative of Tellson's Bank in London is at heart tender and considerate.  In Chapter XVIII of Book the Second of A Tale of Two Cities, on the wedding day of Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette, a startling change comes over Lucie's father after Darnay has come to him on his wedding day to tell him something as agreed upon by the two men.  At this point the reader is unaware of the details of their conversation, but the subject deals with Manette's imprisonment in France.  Psychologically and emotionally disturbed after the conference with his new son-in-law, Manette retreats into his obsessive behavior of making shoes.

Then, in Chapter XIX, after nine days in which he is mentally withdrawn, Dr. Manette puts aside his shoemaking tools.  As Mr. Lorry peers into the room, he observes that Manette seems "calmly studious and attentive."  After conferring with the dutiful Miss Pross, Mr. Lorry decides to approach Manette about his problem.  So, just as he broached the subject of Dr. Manette's return to life from the Bastille earlier in the novel by speaking of Manette as another man, Mr. Lorry confers with Manette about his shoemaking by speaking in the third person, also.  Tenderly, and also cleverly, Lorry has Manette offer his professional opinion about a "dear friend" of his.  In this manner of conferring about a stranger, Dr. Manette is more comfortable speaking of his personal problems and, certainly, less embarrassed about his obsessive behavior.

When Mr. Lorry uses his business acumen again and asks if the "friend" would return to this repetitive action if he were to become overworked again, Dr. Manette replies that he thinks not. 

I think that, henceforth, nothing but some extraordinary jarring of that chord could renew it. After what has happened, and after his recovery, I find it difficult to imagine any such violent sounding of that string again. I trust, and I almost believe, that the circumstances likely to renew it are exhausted.”

Finally, Mr. Lorry asks Manettes's professional opinon about the friend's getting rid of his "blacksmith's forge," and Manette agrees that the man should dispose of his forge. Somewhat reluctantly, the physician agrees,  

In her name, then, let it be done; I sanction it. But, I would not take it away while he was present. Let it be removed when he is not there; let him miss his old companion after an absence.”

So, when Manette travels to visit Lucie and her new husband, Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry hack the shoemaker's bench to pieces, feeling almost "like accomplices in a horrible crime."

duh-winning | Student

Because Dr. Manette didn't feel like doing his summer reading, and posted the question on enotes for these dudes to answer. I so should have thought of this....

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A Tale of Two Cities

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