A Tale of Two Cities Book the Second, Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis

Charles Dickens

Book the Second, Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis

Summary:

Four months have passed. Jarvis Lorry pays a visit to Dr. Manette’s “quiet lodgings” near Soho Square. We learn that Dr. Manette has recovered considerably since returning to England and regularly sees patients in his home. Lorry, who has befriended both Dr. Manette and Lucie, visits often.

Dr. Manette and Lucie are out, so Lorry converses with Lucie’s maid, the fiery-tempered Miss Pross. She tells him that Dr. Manette, who kept the bench and shoe-making tools from his days in confinement, still appears troubled by his mysterious past. She complains about the “hundreds” of men who visit her “Ladybird” (Lucie) and claims that her brother, Solomon, is the only man worthy of Lucie. We learn, however, that Solomon is a crook who left Miss Pross in poverty. Lorry admires Miss Pross’s continued loyalty to her brother.

Dr. Manette returns with his daughter. We learn that their “quiet lodgings” are actually not quiet at all; they live on a street corner that, while seldom visited by passersby, collects echoes from the people walking in Soho Square. The Manettes and Lorry have dinner and are joined by Charles Darnay. Darnay tells them about the ashes of a letter that was recovered from an old dungeon under the Tower of London, and Dr. Manette almost faints—but quickly recovers. They are joined by Sydney Carton later on. A thunderstorm approaches. They listen as the echoes of people scrambling to find shelter intensify. The chapter closes as the violent storm ends.

Analysis:

Dr. Manette appears to have been “recalled to life,” but his refusal to dispose of his shoemaker’s bench suggests that he is still unable to liberate himself from his troubled past. The ever-present bench forewarns a likely resurgence of Dr. Manette’s bizarre dementia—an inevitable condition that is affirmed by his near-fainting spell in response to Charles Darnay’s news about the letter that was recovered from underneath the Tower of London. Moreover, Dr. Manette’s compulsive shoemaking may be connected to the novel’s recurring motif of echoing footsteps (the sounds of which collect in the Manettes’ street corner) to symbolize the inevitable and onward march of fate. The foreboding of future hardship, as well as potential social unrest, is evident in the arrival of a violent thunderstorm, followed by the frantic echoes of people running to find shelter.