Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Family

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Four – Congratulatory
Doctor Manette

She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always. (2.4.3)

Lucie becomes a conduit for Doctor Manette’s own experiences. Deprived of his life in prison, he begins to live through her.

Volume II, Chapter Six – Hundreds of People
Lucie Manette

There ought to have been a tranquil bark in such an anchorage, and there was. The Doctor occupied two floors of a large stiff house, where several callings purported to be pursued by day, but whereof little was audible any day, and which was shunned by all of them at night. (2.6.6)

Lucie seems to create a space of calm around her entire family—perhaps because we’re never really allowed to see a dark side to her character.

Although the Doctor's daughter had known nothing of the country of her birth, she appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make much of little means, which is one of its most useful and most agreeable characteristics. (2.6.16)

The home that Doctor Manette occupies is emphatically Lucie’s home: she’s the one who makes every room she inhabits comfortable.

Volume II, Chapter Nine – The Gorgon’s Head
Charles Darnay

"We have so asserted our station, both in the old time and in the modern time also," said the nephew, gloomily, "that I believe our name to be more detested than any name in France."

"Let us hope so," said the uncle. "Detestation of the high is the involuntary homage of the low." (2.9.48-49)

Charles may have cast off his inheritance, but his feelings seem to have little to no influence on his uncle, a standard-bearer of the arrogant aristocracy.

Volume II, Chapter Ten – Two Promises
Doctor Manette

"Charles Darnay, mysteries arise out of close love, as well as out of wide division; in the former case, they are subtle and delicate, and difficult to penetrate. My daughter Lucie is, in this one respect, such a mystery to me; I can make no guess at the state of her heart." (2.10.59)

Doctor Manette emphasizes the distance that can exist between even the closest of family members—a theme that the narrator himself later explores.

Charles Darnay

"I know that when she is clinging to you, the hands of baby, girl, and woman, all in one, are round your neck. I know that in loving you she sees and loves her mother at her own age, sees and loves you at my age, loves her mother broken-hearted, loves you through your dreadful trial and in your blessed restoration." (2.10.39)

Asking Doctor Manette for the right to court Lucie, Charles demonstrates that he understands the almost incomprehensible role that she plays in her father’s life. Generational and familial roles have blurred between them: she now plays the role of every person he’s lost in his life.

Volume II, Chapter Thirteen – The Fellow of No Delicacy
Sydney Carton

"O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father's face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!" (2.13.49)

Sydney Carton, certain that his solitary (and unhappy) life could never include Lucie, imagines instead a happy family life for her.

Volume III, Chapter Eight – A Hand at Cards

Good Miss Pross! As if the estrangement between them had come of any culpability of hers. As if Mr. Lorry had not known it for a fact, years ago, in the quiet corner in Soho, that this precious brother had spent her money and left her! (3.8.23)

Miss Pross’s good-natured affection sees no evil—even when her brother uses and abandons her. Her devotion to Lucie seems slightly less remarkable in light of her complete devotion to her no-account brother, as well.

Volume III, Chapter Ten – The Substance of the Shadow

"My husband, my father, and my brother! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Hush!" (3.10.73)

Kidnapped and raped by the Marquis Evrémonde, a young woman descends into madness. Her ravings are also a kind of elegy for her family, all of whom died as a result of the Marquis’s actions.

Volume III, Chapter Fourteen – The Knitting Done
Madame Defarge

"I care nothing for this Doctor, I. He may wear his head or lose it, for any interest I have in him; it is all one to me. But, the Evrémonde people are to be exterminated, and the wife and child must follow the husband and father." (3.14.6)

Madame Defarge sees her sister’s rape as a family crime, one that must be repaid by an entire family. Her sense of justice pays no attention to the actual perpetrators of the crime.

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