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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Thirteen – The Fellow of No Delicacy Summary

  • Sydney Carton’s not exactly a man with a lot of charm. Any charm he does have, however, he never displays when he goes to visit the Manettes.
  • Today, for some reason, his feet seem to find their way to the Manettes’s of their own accord.
  • He finds Lucie there alone.
  • When she sees him, she immediately notices that he’s even less well than he usually is.
  • That’s not saying much.
  • She asks Sydney what the matter is.
  • He responds that his life is miserable and hopeless.
  • She asks why he can’t change.
  • We know, we know—it’s a useless question. Someone had to ask it, though.
  • Sydney doesn’t answer directly. Instead, he begins one of the strangest love scenes in all of Dickens’s novels.
  • We’re not even really sure that it’s a love scene.
  • See, Sydney knows that Lucie couldn’t love a man like him.
  • In fact, that’s exactly what he tells her.
  • Dismayed, Lucie doesn’t know what to say.
  • Sure, she feels badly for Carton. She even cares about him. But the saddest thing in this whole deal is that he’s right—and they both know it.
  • True to her good-natured self, though, Lucie asks if there’s anything that she can do to help him without promising to love him.
  • Carton says that if anyone could have reformed him, she could have.
  • It looks like he’s past saving, then.
  • Just like he thought he was.
  • Apparently, Sydney just dropped by to unburden himself… sort of like a very, very painful self-help session.
  • Distraught, Lucie asks again if there’s no way that she could be a force for good in his life.
  • Sydney seems to have moved past this, however.
  • He begs her to keep this conversation confidential; it’s the last time he’ll ever confide in anyone, and he’d like to remember that it ended well.
  • Seeing that Lucie seems upset, he entreats her not to be troubled by his sorrows.
  • More than anything, he wants her to be happy.
  • In fact, he’s so committed to her happiness that he begs her to remember (once she gets married) that he would give his own life to keep those that she loves safe.
  • Bidding Lucie farewell, Sydney rushes out the door.

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