Summary and Analysis
Book 2: Chapter 24
Three more years have passed, and the French Revolution has succeeded in removing the royalty and aristocracy from power. France is still unsettled, however, and many members of the French upper classes who have fled to England use Tellson's as an information hub. One afternoon at Tellson's, Darnay and Mr. Lorry discuss Mr. Lorry's impending trip to France, where he will manage Tellson's Paris office and try to salvage some property and papers for Tellson customers. Amidst the activity in the bank, Stryver loudly commiserates with French nobles. When a letter for the Marquis St. Evrémonde surfaces, several Frenchmen and Stryver make disparaging comments about the current Marquis St. Evrémonde, unaware that they are speaking of Darnay. Darnay offers to deliver the letter to the Marquis. When Darnay reads the letter, he is troubled to find it is from Gabelle, who has been imprisoned for acting as Darnay's steward. Feeling guilty about Gabelle's imprisonment and about leaving some matters unfinished, Darnay resolves to go to France. Idealistically, he even imagines that he might be able to calm some of the revolutionary fervor. Consequently, he writes letters explaining the situation to Lucie and Doctor Manette and then departs for France alone.
Although Darnay's secret departure from England for France where revolutionaries regularly imprison and kill aristocrats may seem foolish, he is acting in accordance with his nature. Darnay embodies justice and duty, and although he is devoted to his family, his sense of responsibility forbids him to turn his back on Gabelle or on his country. Additionally, Darnay remains unaware of some of the dangers, such as Madame Defarge's register, awaiting him. Because he has renounced his property and name, he thinks of himself as a common man. He does not realize, however, that the revolutionaries in France still view him as the Marquis St. Evrémonde, an aristocrat who deserves to die.
As Darnay's fate draws near, Dickens revisits the themes of resurrection and being buried alive. For instance, Darnay leaves for France to recall Gabelle, who could be executed any time, to life. Meanwhile, by going into the turbulent climate of revolutionary France, Darnay is effectively burying himself alive.
Sardanapalus's luxury Sardanapalus (also known as Assurbanipal) was an Assyrian king renowned for his lavish lifestyle.
Prison of the Abbaye a prison in Paris that held many aristocrats during the French Revolution.
the Loadstone Rock a rock containing loadstone (or lodestone), a naturally magnetic mineral.