Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Seventeen – One Night

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Seventeen – One Night

  • London. The night before Lucie’s wedding.
  • Lucie sits by her father’s side underneath a tree in their yard.
  • She’s very, very happy. She worries, however, that her father will be made unhappy by her upcoming marriage.
  • Asking to be reassured that nothing will be changed by her marriage, she begs her father to tell her if he will be at all unhappy in the future.
  • Dr. Manette assures Lucie that he will be happier if she’s fully happy.
  • After all, he realizes that she’s devoted herself to him. He wouldn’t want her life to be spent completely in tending for an old man.
  • As he sits looking at the moon, Dr. Manette remembers the times that the moon was the only thing he could see from his prison window.
  • He tells Lucie that he used to look at the moon and dream of the child whom he’d abandoned when he was sent to prison.
  • Imagining that she’d forgotten him completely, the doctor used to think that the child would grow up without any thought of him troubling her mind.
  • Lucie interrupts him. She’s troubled by the thought that he could imagine her to be uncaring.
  • Dr. Manette gently stops her.
  • At other times, he explains, he would imagine his daughter leading him out of his prison cell into the world.
  • This vision, he insisted, was a specter.
  • Lucie struggles to understand all of this.
  • Continuing, the doctor says that, at other times, he imagined his child with a full and happy life—one that he came into when he left prison.
  • That, Lucie recognizes, was his dream of her.
  • The next day, Lucie will get married.
  • No one is invited to the ceremony but Mr. Lorry. Miss Pross will be there, as well.
  • That night, Miss Pross, Lucie, and the doctor have a cheerful supper together.
  • After the doctor goes to bed, Lucie creeps into his room to check on him.
  • He’s sleeping soundly.
  • Relieved, she goes to sleep herself.

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