Summary and Analysis
Book 1: Chapter 3
As the coach rattles its way toward Dover, Mr. Lorry dozes restlessly, reflecting upon his mission, "to dig some one out of a grave"who has been "buried alive for eighteen years."He envisions what the face of the man must look like and contemplates how severely the years may have affected him. Haunted by visions of the man's face, Mr. Lorry imagines a dialogue in which he repeatedly asks the man, "I hope you care to live?"and the man always responds, "I can't say."
Continuing the theme of secrecy, Dickens compares Mr. Lorry's secret to the inner lives of all people, stating that every person is a "profound secret and mystery to every other."Dickens uses the passengers in the coach to demonstrate his point: Although the three men are traveling a long distance together in very close quarters, they act solitary enough to be traveling alone. Additionally, as described in Chapter 2, the passengers are so bundled up against the cold that distinguishing any of their features is impossible. Their physical anonymity, combined with their mistrust of each other due to the prevalence of robberies, causes the three passengers to completely isolate themselves from one another. This concept of mystery and isolation becomes increasingly important as the book progresses and characters begin to make decisions based upon close-kept secrets.
Also important in this chapter is the introduction of the resurrection theme. Someone is indeed going to be "recalled to life,"and the questions raised by such an event haunt Mr. Lorry. "Recalled to Life"is also the title of Book I of A Tale of Two Cities, which indicates that the upcoming resurrection is vital to the development of the plot in this section of the novel. Although you still don't know who the "dead"man is or from where he is being resurrected, you do know that he is somehow central to the plot.
Dickens symbolically represents the significance of the resurrection at the end of the chapter when Mr. Lorry awakens at daybreak and looks out the coach window at a partially ploughed field, a wood, and the sun rising into the clear sky. His troubled dreams have been dissolved by the sunrise — a rebirth or resurrection of the sun — and the sun rises to illuminate a field and a wood — the provinces of Death (the farmer) and Fate (the woodman) that Dickens introduced in the first chapter. With this imagery, Dickens suggests that recalling the mystery man to life will also bring to light the silent forces that are moving France toward revolution.
"Something of the awfulness"Something of the impressiveness. "Awfulness"here means "inspiring awe"rather than "terrible."
coach and six a coach drawn by six horses.
alehouse a a place where ale is sold and served; tavern.
cocked-hat a three-cornered hat with a turned-up brim.