A Tale of Two Cities (Part 3) by Charles Dickens

 

Part 3 of A Tale of Two Cities consists of B00k II, chapters 17-24 and Book III, chapters 1-3. The Read-along is being hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed, and you can see the master post here. You can also read Part 1 of my review, and Part 2.

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The big story in this section of the book is the French Revolution. In 1789, the revolutionaries (including the Defarges) storm the Bastille. This scene in the book reminded me of the scene in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston gathers up a mob to Kill the Beast! Once inside, M. Defarge searches cell room #105 of the North Tower, where Dr. Manette was kept prisoner for 18 years. Mme. Defarge is the one who cuts the head off the governor who ran the Bastille. That was just the beginning of three years of fires and murders.

The men were terrible, in the bloody-minded anger with which they looked from windows, caught up what arms they had, and came pouring down into the streets; but the women were a sight to chill the boldest. From such household occupations as their bare poverty yielded, from their children, from their aged and their sick crouching on the bare ground famished and naked, they ran out with streaming hair, urging one another, and themselves, to madness with the wildest cries and actions.

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Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as shrivelled and poor as the miserable people. Everything was bowed down, dejected, oppressed, and broken. Habitations, fences, domesticated animals, men, women, children, and the soil that bore them- all worn out.

It is now 1792, and Mr. Lorry is planning to travel to Paris to get the Paris branch of Tellson’s bank in order. Mr. Darnay is trying to talk him out of going, yet thinks about going there himself. He hears all the talk of the revolution and becomes restless. He feels he should be there to try and do some good. Then he receives a letter from tax collector Gabelle, who has been carrying out Darnay’s wishes while Darnay has been in England. Gabelle has been taken prisoner and asks for help. Now, Charles feels compelled to go. He sneaks off,  leaving Lucie and her father a note.

As Charles travels to Paris, he begins to see that the situation is very grim, especially for aristocrats and emigrants such as himself.

The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he had been taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination in a cage, he could not have felt his freedom more completely gone.

Charles is captured and taken to La Force prison, and put into a solitary cell. M. Defarge takes him, knowing who he is, but refuses to help him in any way.

“My duty is to my country and the People. I am the sworn servant of both, against you. I will do nothing for you.”

The next thing we know, Lucie and her father have followed Charles to France, and they have shown up at Tellson’s bank to see Mr. Lorry. Outside Lorry’s window, they can see men and women sharpening their weapons to prepare for the murdering of the prisoners. These same people agree to take Dr. Manette to see Charles at La Force.

In time, M. Defarge comes to Lorry with a message from Dr. Manette letting them know that he and Charles are safe, but cannot leave yet. There is also a note for Lucie, which they take to her  in the company of Mme. Defarge.  Lucie implores her to use her influence to benefit Charles, but Mme. Defarge answers her by saying,

“All our lives, we have seen our sister-women suffer , in themselves and in their children, poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect of all kinds… We have borne this a long time… Is it likely that the trouble of one wife and mother would be much to us now?”

Mr. Lorry is also troubled by their cold manner.

… the shadow of the manner of these Defarges was dark upon himself, for all that, and in his secret mind it troubled him greatly.

Dark and delightfully suspenseful!

* The caption of the picture above is “The Sea Rises”, and is from my copy of A Tale of Two Cities. The copyright on my book is 1934, and I bought it at a second-hand bookstore in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia.

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3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities (Part 3) by Charles Dickens

  1. ebookclassics says:

    What a gorgeous book! I’m reading the book on my ereader. Not very pretty as you can imagine. I’m feeling very conflicted about the Defarges now because they are the leaders of all these mobs killing people.

    • Naomi says:

      I feel the same way! I loved them after part 2, but now they are kind of scary. Good characters, though. And, I guess you can’t really blame them.

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