A Tale of Two Cities
How we cite our quotes:
The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. […] Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. (1.6.6)
Doctor Manette’s time in prison has robbed him not just of time but of his ability to re-enter the world, as well. Even his voice seems to have been forgotten.
Such a staircase, with its accessories, in the older and more crowded parts of Paris, would be bad enough now; but, at that time, it was vile indeed to unaccustomed and unhardened senses. Every little habitation within the great foul nest of one high building--that is to say, the room or rooms within every door that opened on the general staircase--left its own heap of refuse on its own landing, besides flinging other refuse from its own windows. The uncontrollable and hopeless mass of decomposition so engendered, would have polluted the air, even if poverty and deprivation had not loaded it with their intangible impurities; the two bad sources combined made it almost insupportable. (1.5.51)
The description of a single staircase broadens into a critique of an entire class of poverty-stricken people. Notice how one object becomes a focal point for Dickens, allowing him to launch an entire set of generalized observations.
It's a dreadful remembrance. Besides that, his loss of himself grew out of it. Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again. That alone wouldn't make the subject pleasant, I should think. (2.6.67)
Mr. Lorry sees how terrifying the thought of prison still is for Doctor Manette. The lack of control that Doctor Manette once had over his own life becomes a present fear, dogging his days and nights.