A Tale of Two Cities | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities | Book 2, Chapter 18 : Nine Days | Summary

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Summary

On the morning of the wedding, Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss Pross are fussing over Lucie Manette and bickering with one another, with Miss Pross teasing Lorry for being a confirmed bachelor. Miss Pross thinks it would have been a perfect day if her brother Solomon had been the bridegroom.

Then the doctor comes out of his room with Charles Darnay, and Lorry sees with concern that he has gone completely pale. The happy couple are then married in a small ceremony, and as they go off on their honeymoon, the doctor is cheerful with them both, repressing his distress. But once the newlyweds have left, he wanders up to his room. Miss Pross and Lorry decide not to give him some time alone to compose himself, Lorry thinking all the while about Defarge, the wine shop, and the ride away from that garret so long ago. Lorry goes to Tellson's Bank to work for a while, but when he comes back, Miss Pross is wild with worry because the doctor is making shoes again and doesn't have any idea who she is.

Lorry goes in to speak with the doctor but finds him fixated on his shoemaking and oblivious to anything else. Lorry suggests they go out for a walk; Dr. Manette simply says, "Out?" and then continues working. There is nothing Lorry or Miss Pross can do except to watch over him in shifts and make sure that he is fed and taken care of. Nine days later, his shoemaking is "growing dreadfully skillful."

Analysis

This chapter seems to pose more questions than it answers. For example, this is the second time the reader has encountered the name Solomon Pross, Miss Pross's profligate brother. It frequently occurs in Dickens's novels that characters hide their true identities. Charles Darnay is an obvious example in A Tale of Two Cities, but it may be that Solomon Pross is also among the cast of characters, masquerading as someone else. If so, it is likely his reasons are not as pure as Charles Darnay's.

The reader will guess that Darnay has confirmed that he is actually the Marquis St. Evrémonde, which is a huge blow to Dr. Manette's stability and sense of self. But why should the doctor be so distressed by this announcement? If this revelation has driven him back to making shoes, it has reminded him of his imprisonment. This deepens the mystery of what the relationship might be between the Marquis and Dr. Manette. The answer will come later in the novel, but in the meantime, the doctor has again lost all connection with the world around him.

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