A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Book 1: Chapter 4 - The Preparation

Summary

Mr. Lorry arrives at the Royal George Hotel in Dover in the late morning. After freshening up, he spends the day relaxing and meditating on his mission while he waits for the young woman, Lucie Manette, to arrive. When Lucie arrives, Mr. Lorry introduces himself and proceeds to divulge the nature of her involvement in his current business in Paris. Apparently Lucie's father, Doctor Alexandre Manette, whom she believed to be dead, is alive, and has been secretly imprisoned in Paris for the past eighteen years. The French authorities have recently released Doctor Manette, and Tellson's Bank is sending Mr. Lorry to identify the Doctor(who was one of Tellson's clients) and bring him to the safety of England. As the Doctor's daughter, Lucie will be responsible for caring for him and nursing him back to health. The story shocks Lucie; when Mr. Lorry tries to comfort her, she simply stares at him, gripping his arm. Concerned by her numbed state, Mr. Lorry calls for help. A large, red-haired woman runs into the room, shoves Mr. Lorry away from Lucie and into a wall, and begins yelling at the inn's servants to bring smelling salts and cold water.

Analysis

As Mr. Lorry emerges from his room at the Royal George, the curious servants hover nearby to see what he looks like after shedding his bulky winter coat and hat. Similarly, Dickens' readers also wait for Dickens to reveal Mr. Lorry and his secret. As Dickens fills in the physical details of Mr. Lorry's person, he is signifying that the details of Mr. Lorry's character and his mission will also soon be revealed.

What you discover is that, although Mr. Lorry insists that he is simply a man of business with no more feelings than a machine, he is actually a kind man who is deeply troubled by the Manettes' situation. His concern is apparent in his dreams about digging out Doctor Manette and in the gentle way in which he discloses to Lucie that her father is alive; he initially presents her father's story as the story of an anonymous customer to give her time to adjust to the shocking news. Notice, however, that although Mr. Lorry's mission is no longer a secret, the resolution to one mystery leads to another — why was Doctor Manette secretly imprisoned?

Glossary

forenoon morning; the part of the day before noon.

drawer a bartender; tapster.

packet a boat that travels a regular route, as along a coast or river, carrying passengers, mail, and freight.

Calais a seaport in northern France, on the Strait of Dover; located across the English Channel from Dover.

claret a dry, red wine, especially red Bordeaux.

linen things made of linen; in this case, shirts.

piscatory flavor a fishy flavor.

horsehair a stiff fabric made from the hair of the mane or tail of a horse.

Channel the English Channel.

pier glass a tall mirror set on a pier, or wall section, between two windows.

Beauvais a town in France north of Paris.

pecuniary of or involving money.

compatriot a fellow countryman.

"the privilege of filling up blank forms"members of the French aristocracy could issue warrants for the indefinite imprisonment of their enemies without a trial.

Grenadier wooden measure a tall, cylindrical measuring cup.

smelling salts an aromatic mixture of carbonate of ammonium and some fragrant scent used as an inhalant in relieving faintness, headaches, and the like.

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During the day Jerry Cruncher is a porter for Tellson’s Bank. What is his occupation at night?




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