A Tale of Two Cities Book the Second, Chapters 10 and 11 Summary and Analysis

Charles Dickens

Book the Second, Chapters 10 and 11 Summary and Analysis

Summary:

One year has passed, and Charles Darnay has become a very successful French teacher in London. In addition to private tutoring, he teaches at Cambridge, where he drives “a contraband trade in European languages” instead of focusing on Greek and Latin. He pays a visit to Dr. Manette to declare his love for Lucie. Dr. Manette appears distressed but promises not to speak against him if Lucie reciprocates his feelings. Darnay asks if Lucie has any other suitors, and Dr. Manette tells him that Carton and Stryver might be courting her. Darnay attempts to reveal his true surname (Darnay is not his real name) to Dr. Manette, but Dr. Manette insists that he wait until the morning of the wedding—if Lucie wants to marry him. Later on, Lucie finds her father working at his shoemaker's bench and is distraught. They walk the hallway together until Dr. Manette is able to sleep.

Meanwhile, Stryver announces to Sydney Carton that he intends to marry Lucie—though he does not consider the possibility that she does not reciprocate his ostensible affection. He also urges Carton to consider marriage so someone will take care of him. Carton says that he will consider it.

Analysis:

Charles Darnay’s success as a French teacher exemplifies two important Enlightenment-era ideals: industriousness (working instead of living the dissipated life of an aristocrat) and pragmatism (teaching useful European languages instead of the classics, Greek and Latin). His commitment to earning versus entitlement is further illustrated by his genuine love for Lucie Manette, whose beauty and submissiveness have attracted multiple suitors. Darnay’s love is contrasted with Stryver’s unconvincing affection. Darnay’s efforts to be a productive, honorable person are apparently not enough, however; Dr. Manette, though he assures Darnay that he may marry Lucie if she reciprocates his love, is deeply disturbed by Darnay’s mysterious family history. As we shall see, Darnay cannot escape his familial connection to the corrupt French aristocracy.