A Tale of Two Cities Book the Second, Chapters 19 and 20 Summary and Analysis

Charles Dickens

Book the Second, Chapters 19 and 20 Summary and Analysis

Summary:

On the tenth day, Dr. Manette recovers. Lorry, who fell asleep watching over the doctor, awakens on the sofa in Dr. Manette’s consulting room. Dr. Manette appears to have completely returned to his senses but does not remember what happened. Lorry cautiously tells him while they eat breakfast, hoping that Dr. Manette can provide professional insight into the strange episode. Dr. Manette assures Lorry that it will likely not occur again, but Lorry feels uneasy. He suggests that Dr. Manette dispose of his old shoemaker’s bench so it does not remind him of his time in the North Tower. Dr. Manette begrudgingly agrees but asks that the bench and tools be removed (in the name of Lucie) while he is away. Lorry and Miss Pross comply, destroying the bench while Dr. Manette is visiting Lucie and Darnay in Wales.

Sydney Carton visits Lucie and Darnay when they return from Wales. He appears to offer sincere congratulations and tells Darnay that he wishes they could be friends. He speaks of the dinner they shared after the treason trial and asks Darnay to forgive his drunken rudeness. Darnay insists that he has not thought of their dinner since and thanks Carton for helping to spare his life during the trial. Later that evening, after Carton leaves, Darnay tells Lorry, Dr. Manette, Lucie, and Miss Pross about the conversation. He spoke of Carton “not bitterly, or meaning to bear hard upon him, but as anybody might who saw him as he showed himself.” Lucie is mildly offended and, when they are alone, asks Darnay to be kinder towards Carton because she believes “he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds in it.” Darnay, who is mesmerized by the “purity of [Lucie’s] faith in this lost man,” wholeheartedly complies.

Analysis:

Though Lorry considers himself to be a detached and unemotional “man of business,” he clearly cares for the wellbeing of Dr. Manette and his family. His capacity for empathy and self-sacrifice is palpable; he takes an extended leave from Tellson’s Bank in order to care for Dr. Manette (with the help of Miss Pross) and goes to great effort to conceal Dr. Manette’s condition from Lucie. Dr. Manette’s abrupt regression, which he usually goes to great effort to avoid, suggests a parallel with the revolutionary sentiment that has begun to boil under the surface of Saint Antoine. Dr. Manette works to suppress the trauma of his imprisonment, but it erupts if it reaches a certain intensity; similarly, the deep resentment and rage among the French peasants will erupt in the French Revolution.

Meanwhile, Lucie, who remains the figurative resurrector of the novel, is the only one who sees any potential in Sydney Carton. Her unwavering support of Carton suggests—as we shall see—that he has begun his path to figurative resurrection.