A Tale of Two Cities Book the Second, Chapter 24 Summary and Analysis

Charles Dickens

Book the Second, Chapter 24 Summary and Analysis

Summary:

Three years have passed, but the Revolution rages on. The nobility (collectively referred to as “Monseigneur”) has fled France. Jarvis Lorry and Charles Darnay are chatting in Tellson’s Bank in London. Lorry intends to visit Tellson’s Paris location because of “the peril in which our books and papers over yonder are involved.” Darnay objects, but Lorry assures him that, as an old Englishman, he will come to no harm, and he has resolved to bring Jerry Cruncher as his bodyguard. Someone approaches Lorry with a letter for “Monseigneur heretofore the Marquis St. Evrémonde” (the Marquis’s nephew, who, as only Dr. Manette knows, is Charles Darnay). The people in Tellson’s Bank denounce the Marquis’s nephew for abandoning his heritage and fleeing France. Darnay finally claims that he knows him. Stryver, who is among the group, expresses his sympathies, saying “there is contamination in such a scoundrel.” Darnay attempts to defend him, but Stryver is unconvinced. Darnay then agrees to deliver the letter to the young Marquis and, when alone, discovers that it is from Monsieur Gabelle. Gabelle has been imprisoned because he “acted for an emigrant” by helping Darnay leave the country. Darnay realizes that, rather than leaving abruptly, he should have made proper arrangements to withdraw his post as the Marquis’s heir. He decides to go to Paris to save Gabelle, reasoning that he will not be harmed because he was not personally responsible for the peasants’ oppression. He departs in secret, leaving two letters (for Lucie and her father) explaining that he is away on business.

Analysis:

Despite the passage of time, social reform seems to elude the revolutionaries; instead, there is only more bloodshed and unrest. Living conditions for peasants have not improved, and paranoia is rampant. Nevertheless, Jarvis Lorry (whose loyalty to Tellson’s Bank remains steadfast) intends to visit Tellson’s Bank in Paris to rescue books and documents.

Meanwhile, Charles Darnay’s ability to avoid his aristocratic family’s corrupt past becomes more and more difficult. French nobility and peasantry alike are irate with him for abandoning his responsibilities as an Evrémonde, as well as for fleeing France. Furthermore, his abrupt rejection of his inheritance has endangered his late uncle’s faithful servant, Monsieur Gabelle. However, Darnay makes a potentially fatal mistake: he assumes the peasants revolt based on reason and just principles and thus will not harm him. As we have seen, much of the violence taking place in France derives from passion and suspicion. Darnay’s erroneous assumption suggests that he will encounter great conflict when he returns to France.