Part 2 of A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along, hosted by Laura @ Reading in Bed.
Four months after the trial of Charles Darnay
There are so many different storylines and characters right now that I don’t know what to talk about. I think I will list them all.
1. It has been established that Mr. Stryver and Sydney Carton are
good drinking buddies loose business partners.
2. Who was Mr. Manette’s oppressor, and why was he being oppressed?
3. Charles Darnay tells the Manettes of the prisoner who buried the ashes of a piece of paper, carving the word DIG on the wall, so it could be found. Mysterious.
4. Monsieur the Marquis is hated by all, kills a small girl with his carriage, and tries to compensate for it by throwing the father of the child a coin.
“It is extraordinary to me… that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is forever in the way. How do I know what injuries you have done my horses.”
5. Charles Darnay turns out to be the nephew of Monsieur the Marquis, but abhors everything he stands for.
Darnay: “… I believe our name to be more detested than any name in France.”
Monsieur: “Let us hope so… Detestation of the high is the involuntary homage of the low.”
“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark defernce of fear and slavery, my friend, will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof, shuts out the sky.”
Darnay, speaking of the luxurious house: “To the eye it is fair enough, here; but seen in its integrity, under the sky, and by the daylight, it is a crumbling tower of waste, mismanagement, extortion, debt, mortgage, oppression, hunger, nakedness, and suffering.”
6. The mystery of Darnay’s return to France:
“I have come back, sir, as you anticipate, pursuing the object that took me away. It carried me into great and unexpected peril; but it is a sacred object, and if it had carried me to death I hope it would have sustained me.”
7. Monsieur the Marquis is murdered in his bed, presumably by the father of the child you was killed by the carriage. His name is Gaspard, and he is eventually caught and hung.
One Year Later
8. Charles Darnay, who is now working as a teacher in England, asks for Lucie Manette’s hand in marriage. He wishes to tell Mr. Manette his real name, but is told to wait until the morning of the wedding. Hmm… I smell trouble.
9. I still don’t know what to make of Mr. Stryver and Sydney Carton, except that they both are hankering after Lucie. Mr. Stryver had plans to purpose, but Mr. Lorry talks him out of it. Mr. Carton goes to see Lucie on his own one day to declare his love in one breath, and in the next, explain why he is no good for her.
“It is too late. I shall never be better than I am. I shall sink lower, and be worse.”
“Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever.” What could this mean?
10. Jerry Cruncher and his friends go off to rob a grave. Not sure how Jerry’s story fits in yet, either.
11. John Barsad, the English spy, tries to get the Defarges to open up about the anger and unrest among the villagers, with no luck. He manages to rattle them a bit when he tells them about Lucie’s upcoming marriage to Charles Darnay, the present Marquis.
That’s a lot going on, with many loose ends that Dickens will hopefully tie up for us in the last half of the book.
I particularly like the conversation between Madame and Monsieur Defarge about vengeance and retribution. M. Defarge is feeling discouraged by how long it is taking.
Madame Defarge: “It does not take a long time to for an earthquake to swallow a town. Eh well! Tell me how long it takes to prepare the earthquake?”
M. Defarge: “A long time, I suppose.”
Mme. Defarge:”But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it. In the meantime, it is always preparing, though it is not seen or heard. That is your consolation. Keep it.”
She’s a wise one, Madame Defarge, and is easily my favourite character in the book now. Casting her as a Muppet is tricky, because, besides Miss Piggy (who would be playing Lucie, of course), Janice is the only other female Muppet I can think of (who isn’t an animal). So, despite her shiny yellow hair, she will have to play Mme. Defarge. I think she can do it. I can picture her sitting there, knitting, with her eyes always closed. And, about the knitting, am I right in thinking that Mme. Defarge is knitting some sort of an account of the revolution? I am curious to see how her knitting turns out.