RWM: A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, Chapters XI-XII

Previously: Book III, Chapter X| Coming Soon: Book III, Chapter XIII

Welcome to the twenty-eighth week of this read-with-me project. This week we read Chapter XI: Dusk and Chapter XII: Darkness. This section was first released in a magazine called All the Year Round on Saturday, November 5th 1859.

The story so far…

Charles has been sentenced to death for treason against the French people.

In this section… 

The first chapter, ‘Dusk’ is concerned with the immediate reaction surround Charles’ death sentence. There is, of course, a focus on Lucie and they are parted for what seems to be the final time. It is a sad moment if a touch overdramatic. However, the drama is counterbalanced with Sydney’s reaction. 

“His [Sydney’s] arm trembled as it raised her [Lucie], and supported her head. Yet, there was an air about him that was not all of pity—that had a flush of pride in it.

I want to draw your attention to this line because it is through his trembling arm which Sydney’s depth of emotion is betrayed. This is a big contrast with Lucie’s swooning. The swoon is an example of her emotion overcoming her. In contrast, Sydney’s trembling arm suggests two things; the first, that one cannot completely hide strong emotion and the second that he feels such a strong emotion. 

The second part of this quote is important as it alludes to his aforementioned plan to help Charles. 

The title of the following chapter in the section is ‘Darkness’ which compliments that of the previous chapter. Having ‘Darkness’ follow on from ‘Dusk’, especially in the same section. The darkness of the chapter doesn’t just come from the physical darkness due to the time of day but the darkness of despair that has enveloped the Manettes. The Dr. has relapsed once more. Lucie is grieving her husband. The only person who seems to be able to overcome this through the action is Sydney. 

The chapter begins with Sydney visiting the wine shop, wherein everyone comments on his likeness to Charles. As I am re-reading this book this almost feels kike Dicken’s is winking at me, but for a new reader, it’s also a way of reminding us of an important fact that was established some time ago.

This Sydney that we see in this chapter is so far away from the Sydney we first met. In this chapter we really see the best version of him and as he lays the plans for Lucie’s family to return to England. 

The chapter ends with him bidding Lucie a silent farewell, which is curious given that we are lead to believe he will be leaving Paris with her, Mr Lorry, and the Manette family. 

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: 

Chapter XIII on the 12th of November (Post: 14th of November)

Chapter XIV on the 19th of November (Post: 21st of November)

Chapter XV on the 26th of November (Post: 29th of November)

2 thoughts on “RWM: A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, Chapters XI-XII”

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