A Tale of Two Cities Book the Third, Chapters 11 and 12 Summary and Analysis
by Charles Dickens

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Book the Third, Chapters 11 and 12 Summary and Analysis


Lucie faints, but she recovers with the resolution to “uphold [Darnay] in his misery‚ and not augment it.” Dr. Manette is distraught, but Darnay assures him that he has nothing for which to apologize and thanks him for conquering “natural antipathy” when consenting to allow Darnay to marry Lucie. Dr. Manette “shrieks in anguish,” and Darnay is led back to his cell. Sydney Carton, who watched the trial from an “obscure corner,” carries Lucie out to a coach and accompanies the family home. He cautions Miss Pross not to “recall [Lucie] to herself” for the moment. Lucie’s daughter (“little Lucie”) tells Carton, whom she adores, that she thinks he “will do something to help mamma, something to save papa!” He asks if he can kiss Lucie. As he bends over her, he murmurs the words, “A life you love.” Before leaving, he asks Dr. Manette to try once more to convince the Tribunal to spare Darnay’s life. Dr. Manette agrees. Lorry informs Carton that Dr. Manette’s influence will not help and that Darnay “will perish; there is no real hope.” Carton echoes his words and departs.

Carton decides to show himself to the Defarges, reasoning that “it is a sound precaution, and may be a necessary preparation.” He enters their wine shop and asks for a drink. Madame Defarge is astonished by his resemblance to Charles Darnay, though Ernest Defarge thinks the similarity is only “a little like.” Madame Defarge begins to suspect that her husband is not completely faithful to the Republic. He empathizes with Dr. Manette, whom he says has “suffered much”; Madame Defarge, however, says that the doctor’s face is “not the face of a true friend of the Republic” and suggests that both Dr. Manette and Lucie should be executed. She then reveals that the family so abused by the Evrémondes was her family; she was the sister that Charles Darnay’s mother was looking for to make amends. Carton returns to Lorry, who is still waiting for Dr. Manette to return. They wait together until he abruptly enters the room, frantically asking for his shoemaker’s bench—his attempt to save Darnay evidently a failure. Carton tells Lorry that Dr. Manette and Lucie are in danger of being denounced by Madame Defarge. Carton then produces a certificate that allows him to safely leave France. He gives it to Lorry and instructs him to have a carriage ready to depart Paris by two o’clock the next afternoon. Lorry agrees, and Carton departs.


Lucie’s ability to remain a stable emotional anchor for her family is put to the ultimate test when she learns that her husband will be beheaded. Her intention to “uphold” Darnay (and, undoubtedly, her father and daughter) instead of succumbing to grief invites a comparison between Lucie’s family community and the community of...

(The entire section is 708 words.)