RWM: A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, Chapters IV-V

Previously: Book III, Chapter II-III| Coming Soon: Chapters VI-VII

Welcome to the twenty-third week of this read-with-me project. This week we read Chapter IV: Calm in the Storm and Chapter V: The Wood Sawyer. This section was first released in a magazine called All the Year Round on Saturday, October 1st 1859.

The story so far…
With Charles imprisoned by the revolutionaries in France, Lucie and Dr Manette have arrived at Mr Lorry’s residence to help him.

In this section…
Chapter IV begins with Dr Manette’s efforts to rescue Charles.

As my beloved child was helpful in restoring me to myself, I will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her; by the aid of Heaven I will do it!”

The Dr sees this, not only as a duty to his fellow man but also as a duty for Lucie and all that she has done for him over the years. This quote also shows that he refers to Lucie and Charles almost as one person, with Charles as a part of his daughter. This is reminiscent of the Greek myth of soulmates. In the myth, soulmates were originally a single person before being split into two by Zeus, who feared their powers. This serves as an explanation to why soulmates feel so drawn to one another. According to Dr Manette, Charles is a part of Lucie in much the same way.

This is an interesting chapter because it shows a very different side to Dr Manette’s character. The violence in the streets brought about by the revolution frightens Lucie, and Mr Lorry but the same cannot be said for Dr Manette. Instead, the Dr is thriving in this unusual circumstance, and his previous imprisonment has placed him in good standing with the revolutionaries. It seems that the use he can provide to his daughter is enough to spur him onward in a way we have not previously seen.

Chapter V, ‘The Wood-Sawyer’, gives us another time jump, this time of fifteen months. It is apparent at this point that the story relies on being told over a very long period of time, hence the linear disruption. We see the Manette-Darnay’s are still in Paris and very minimal has been made to release Charles. That said he is no longer in solitary confinement, and if Lucie stands in a certain spot of a certain street, he is sometimes able to see her. The effort of this ritual signifies how much Lucie and Charles still love one another. We learn from the Dr that Charles is to be called forth for his trial the next day.

This chapter has one of my favourite cliff-hanger endings thus far. We know that someone has arrived who is expected to be able to be of assistance to Charles, but we don’t know who. The chapter ends with the repetition of this question which emphasises the mystery. It’s through cliff-hanger endings such as these that the manner of publication becomes that much more poignant. Unfortunately, we, as did the original readers of this tale, must wait till next week to find out.

What about you… Are you reading along with A Tale of Two Cities, and if so, what did you think of this section?

Dates for your diary:
Chapters VI-VII on the 8th of October (Post: 10th of October)
Chapter VIII on the 15th of October (Post: 17th of October)
Chapter IX on the 22nd of October (Post: 24th of October)

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