Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume II, Chapter Nine – The Gorgon’s Head

By Charles Dickens

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Volume II, Chapter Nine – The Gorgon’s Head

  • The chateau of the Marquis is a pretty great place.
  • "Chateau," by the way, is a French word for an estate or manor house of the nobility.
  • This particular chateau seems very stony.
  • It’s got stone walls and stone battlements and stone lions on top of the stone battlements.
  • The Marquis asks if his nephew has arrived. He hasn’t.
  • Asking for his supper to be laid, the Marquis stares out the window for a time.
  • Finally, as he’s coming to supper, the servants announce the arrival of his nephew.
  • And his nephew is...Charles Darnay.
  • We sort of knew that was coming.
  • The two greet each other, but they don’t exactly seem happy to be reunited.
  • Darnay apologizes for being late. He’s been detained by…business.
  • Ever the gentleman, the Marquis accepts his apology.
  • Darnay says that his task carried him into great danger—even possible death.
  • We’re guessing that he’s referring to the trial for treason here.
  • Moreover, he suspects that the Marquis was actually trying to support the accusations against him.
  • Ever the gentleman, the Marquis doesn’t say anything.
  • Darnay suspects that the only reason he wasn’t locked up forever in France is that the Marquis has been out of favor with the court for a while.
  • In other words, his meddling in Darnay’s business probably wouldn’t have worked out the way the Marquis intended.
  • Lamenting that the family name has fallen into such low regard, the Marquis suggests that people hate him because he’s so much better than they are.
  • Darnay doesn’t exactly agree.
  • Declaring that he’s renounced his relationship with the family, Darnay begs his uncle to repair some of the damage that the family has done to those around them.
  • Darnay says that his mother’s dying wish was that the family would right some of the wrongs they’ve caused.
  • The Marquis laughs at this folly.
  • Angry, Darnay declares that he gives up his rights to the family land.
  • He has a life in England now.
  • The Marquis asks if Darnay has ever met a former patriot in England—a doctor with a young daughter.
  • Darnay says he has.
  • As Darnay leaves for the night, the Marquis mutters that he’d like to see him burned in his bed.
  • Silence descends on the house.
  • As the sun rises, terror grips the house.
  • The Marquis has been stabbed in the night.

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