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Free Study Guide-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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Chapter Twenty: A Plea

Summary

Carton drops in to see the newlyweds as soon as they get back from their honeymoon. His habits, manner, and looks have not changed. He tells Darnay that he wishes they were friends and apologizes for the remarks he had made after the trial when he was drunk. Darnay assures him that he has forgotten all about it, especially since Carton had saved his life. Carton then solicits permission to visit them occasionally. Darnay grants him his request. After Carton leaves, Darnay speaks unkindly of him to the others. Later on, while they are preparing for bed, Lucie tells Darnay to be more considerate towards Carton. She feels that Carton is a deeper person with a bigger heart than he shows himself to be.


Notes

There is a significant contrast in the attitude of Darnay and Lucie towards Carton. Lucie recognizes the good in Carton, believing him to be a more complex and generous person than he appears; she pleads with her husband to be more considerate of the man who has earlier saved his life. Although Darnay outwardly acknowledges that Carton has saved his life and permits him to visit them, he is not compassionate and does not understand or like Carton, the man who will sacrifice his own life to save Darnay and insure Lucie's happiness. Dickens excels in creating such ironic touches.

It is important to notice how Dickens handles the interaction between Lucie and Darnay. He does not seem capable of building genuinely romantic scenes. His good characters, by the very fact of being virtuous, act in a stifled manner. As a result, there is a lack of spontaneity between Lucie and Darnay, and the endearments used by the married couple are very conventional. This is a reflection of Victorian decorum that would not permit any demonstration of love beyond the accepted code of behavior.

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