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

Summary

Mr. Lorry is worried about compromising Tellson's Bank by sheltering the wife of a prisoner; he would gladly risk his own security and possessions for Lucie, but he cannot risk those of the bank. He considers going to Defarge, but decides against it. Instead, he confers with Lucie; she tells him of her father's plans of renting a lodge for a short while. Mr. Lorry thinks it is a good idea and locates a suitable place in a safe area. He then takes Lucie, Miss Pross, and little Lucie to the lodge; Jerry Cruncher is placed at the door as a guard.

Defarge brings a message to Mr. Lorry from Dr. Manette, stating that Darnay is safe. There is another message from Darnay for Lucie. As Lorry sets out for Lucie's lodging with Defarge, he sees two women knitting in the courtyard; one is Madame Defarge and the other is The Vengeance. They accompany Defarge and Mr. Lorry.

Lucie is delighted to receive Darnay's letter, which asks her to have courage and reminds her that her father has influence among the revolutionaries. She is so affected by the letter that she kisses Madame Defarge's hand, in a loving, thankful, and tender way. Madame Defarge makes no response and resumes knitting. Lucie looks at the woman in a terrified manner; Madame Defarge responds with a cold, impassive stare. Mr. Lorry tries to explain to Lucie that Madame Defarge has wished to see them so she will know whom to protect if there is any trouble. Mr. Lorry, however, is having trouble believing her reason after seeing her stony attitude. Madame Defarge asks if little Lucie is Darnay's child. When told that she is, Madame Defarge announces that her work there is done and starts to leave. Lucie pleads with her to use her power to save Darnay. Madame Defarge, looking as cold as ever, turns to The Vengeance and explains that the mothers and wives have not been thought about when their husbands and fathers were rotting in prison. They have suffered all kinds of poverty, hunger, sickness, misery, oppression, and neglect. Turning to Lucie she adds that the troubles of one wife and mother do not mean much to them. She resumes her knitting and walks out. The Vengeance follows, and then Defarge.


Notes

Mr. Lorry's proper attitude towards business is evident, for he always draws a line between personal and bank work. He feels he cannot let Lucie stay in the rooms of the bank since she is the wife of a prisoner; it would put the bank at risk. As a result, he finds proper lodging for her, Dr. Manette, little Lucie, and Miss Pross in a safe area.

The fear that Darnay has already been killed is erased, and there is hope that Dr. Manette will succeed in saving him. In truth, throughout the chapter, emotion swings between hope and fear. At first, Lucie and Lorry hope that the Defarges will help them; after all, he brings the letters from Darnay and Dr. Manette to them, letting them know that Lucie's husband is still alive. The hope, however, is short-lived. Madame Defarge's cold and impassive stare and her questions about the child reveal that she plans to harm them, not to help them. She has come to Lucie's in order to learn the names of Darnay's family that should be knitted into her register.

As they stand staring at one another, the total contrast between Madame Defarge and Lucie is made clear. Madame Defarge has spent her life influencing the people around her to take revenge and fanning the flames of hatred. Her misery is reflected in her icy stare and her stony heart is not moved either by Lucie's gratitude or pleas. There seems to be nothing human left in her. In total contrast, Lucie's life has been spent in influencing the people around her through love and compassion. He has nurtured her husband, brought her father back to life, and devoted herself to the raising of little Lucie. Because of her kind ways, Lucie has a benevolent effect on all whom she meets.

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