A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Book 3: Chapter 11 - Dusk

Summary

Darnay's death sentence devastates Lucie, but she manages to control her shock for her husband's sake. As the crowd jubilantly leaves, the court grants her permission to embrace her husband one last time. She and Darnay say their farewells, and Doctor Alexandre Manette approaches them. Darnay tries to comfort his father-in-law, but the Doctor only wrings his hands and cries out. When the guards lead Darnay away, Lucie faints. Carton picks her up and carries her to the waiting coach.

Back at Lucie and the Doctor's lodgings, young Lucie begs Carton to help her parents. Carton kisses the still-unconscious Lucie goodbye, whispering, "A life you love,"and then urges Doctor Manette to try to influence the judges one last time. After arranging to meet with Mr. Lorry and the Doctor later that evening, Carton leaves.

Analysis

As in the reunion scene between Lucie and her father in Book I, Victorian melodrama somewhat mars the poignancy of the farewell scene between Lucie and Darnay for modern readers. Dickens loads the couple's dialogue with saccharine endearments and pious sentiment. Darnay, for instance, names Lucie the "dear darling of [his] soul,"while Lucie declares she will surely die from a broken heart and will join him in heaven. Perhaps the most melodramatic moment comes from Doctor Manette, who pulls his hair, wrings his hands, and shrieks in anguish. He is obviously very close to reverting back to his shoemaking state.

However, in the midst of the shrieking, fainting, and general despair, Carton displays a remarkable calmness and sense of purpose. The crisis that is devastating the lives of his friends seems to be giving him the ambition and resolve that he has always lacked. He takes control of the situation, giving the Doctor something constructive to do and comforting Mr. Lorry. When he picks up the unconscious Lucie, he has "an air about him that was not all of pity — that had a flush of pride in it."His whispered words to Lucie, "A life you love,"recall his words to her years before when he told her "there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you."Keeping that statement in mind, the reader must conclude that when he tells Mr. Lorry, "He will perish: there is no real hope,"he is speaking of himself rather than Darnay.

Glossary

the dock the place where the accused stands or sits in court.

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