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Free Study Guide-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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Chapter Four: The Preparation

Summary

Mr. Lorry arrives at Dover and checks into a hotel, where he showers and changes. At the desk, he leaves instructions for accommodations to be prepared for a certain young woman due to arrive at any time; he also asks to be notified upon her arrival. While he waits for dinner in the coffee shop, the waiter announces that Miss Manette has arrived from London and is extremely eager to see him. Mr. Lorry immediately goes to find her.

Lucie Manette tells Lorry that she has been informed that he is to escort her to Paris on some matter regarding the property of her dead father. Mr. Lorry confirms that he is to escort her to Paris and then tells her that her father is alive, recently released from an eighteen-year imprisonment. The plan is to secretly bring Dr. Manette back to. Upon hearing that her father, whom she has never known, is alive, Lucie is so shocked that she literally faints. The nurse, Miss Pross, rushes into the room, scolds Mr. Lorry, and cares for Lucie as she brings her back to consciousness.

Notes

Much of the mystery from the previous two chapters is solved in this fourth chapter. The man whom Mr. Lorry has thought about and dreamed about is Dr. Manette, who for eighteen years has been imprisoned in the Bastille and left to die. The intense solitude of his long confinement in prison is a continuation of the novel's theme of alienation. The young lady that Lorry meets in Dover is Dr. Manette's daughter, Lucie. As an agent of the bank, he is to take Lucie to meet her father for the first time ever. Lucie is so shocked at the news that she faints.


It is important to notice the realistic human emotions that Dickens develops in this chapter. Although a businessman, Mr. Lorry is not comfortable about the task at hand; but he is very tactful and kind in his dealings with young Lucie. He understands why the girl is so shocked over the news of her father, for she has never even seen him due to his long imprisonment. The nurse also openly expresses her emotions. She is upset that her mistress has fainted and criticizes Mr. Lorry for causing the incident. She also tenderly cares for Lucie.

Dickens continues to intensify the bleak and somber mood of the novel during this chapter. He describes Lucie's accommodations as a dark room, furnished in a funeral manner with oiled tables gloomily reflecting the glow of the candles, "as if they were buried in deep graves of black mahogany and no light to speak of could be expected from them until they were "dug out." The mirror reflecting Miss Manette is also bleak, for it is framed with headless and crippled cupids. This is the first image of decapitation and it foreshadows the deaths on the guillotine.

Recalled to Life, the title of the First Book in the novel and the message that Lorry sent back to the bank, can now be understood. It is Dr. Manette who has been "recalled to life", resurrected from near death in the Bastille. Throughout the novel, Dickens will be concerned with redemption and resurrection of people - from death and from isolation.

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