Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Four – Congratulatory

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Four – Congratulatory

  • As Lucie and her father step out of the courtroom, our narrator takes some time to catch us up on their lives.
  • Dr. Manette is looking worlds better.
  • Our narrator is pretty sure that this is all Lucie’s doing: she's brought him back to life.
  • Everyone congratulates everyone else on Darnay’s release.
  • Mr. Stryver, Darnay’s lawyer, seems to be taking most of the credit for the legal maneuver that saved his life.
  • Of course, that would be forgetting Carton’s role in the affair—which our narrator wouldn’t want us to do.
  • Unsurprisingly, pointing out the similarity between Carton and Darnay was Carton’s own idea. He was the brains behind the operation.
  • Mr. Lorry asks if "a man of business" might now approach Charles Darnay.
  • As we quickly realize, however, anytime Mr. Lorry wants to be a "man of business," it rarely works well.
  • He’s soon congratulating Charles just like everyone else.
  • Carton, who still seems pretty cynical about the justice system (hmm…wonder why?), wants to get out of the general area of the court.
  • He asks Darnay to come out to dinner with him.
  • Aww…a blossoming friendship?
  • Well, not exactly. Darnay can’t seem to break through Carton’s cynicism. And Carton’s already seen how Darnay looks at Lucie.
  • In fact, just because Carton seems to like rubbing salt in his own wounds, he gets Darnay to propose a toast to "Miss Manette!"
  • After sharing a drink or two together, Carton’s pretty sure he doesn’t like Darnay.
  • Darnay sure doesn’t like Carton.
  • Perhaps they might even get into blows over Lucie…until, of course, Darnay realizes that Carton has just saved his life.
  • Before they part, however, Darnay wants to know why Carton seems so angry and depressed.
  • Muttering that he’s a "disappointed drudge," Carton says that he’s been worth nothing all his life.
  • As Darnay leaves, Carton engages in a little bit of existential self-questioning.
  • Why hasn’t he been able to change his own circumstances in life? Why isn’t he ever able to change his ways or become a better human being?
  • Tough questions. And Carton’s got no answers.

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