A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Book 2: Chapter 17 - One Night

Summary

The night before Lucie's wedding, she and her father sit outside and discuss her upcoming marriage. Lucie tells her father how happy she is and assures him that her love for Darnay will not interfere with their relationship. Doctor Alexandre Manette responds by telling her that marriage is a natural step for her to take and that he is grateful that his imprisonment has not shadowed her life as it has his. He relates to her that when he was in prison he would think of the child he had never known and wonder what its fate was. No matter what he imagined, though, he could never have imagined the degree of happiness that Lucie brought into his life.

Analysis

Dickens juxtaposes the idyllic scene of Lucie and her father with the previous scene between the Defarges in the wine-shop. Both pairs take a quiet moment out of their busy lives to assess where their lives are going. For the Manettes, the future is bright and hopeful, filled with the promise of love and children. Lucie's happiness is a triumph for the Doctor because he has successfully kept his sorrows and hardships from tainting her future. However, the only future the Defarges look forward to is one of vengeance and retribution. The Doctor notes that "there was a time in my imprisonment, when my desire for vengeance was unbearable,"but through Lucie's care he has overcome that need for revenge. The Defarges cannot separate themselves from the desire for retribution and, therefore, know none of the overwhelming happiness and hope that the Doctor feels.

Glossary

apocryphal of doubtful authorship or authenticity; not genuine.

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