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[personal profile] ambrmerlinus
In Chapter 4: Congratulatory, Dr. Manette, Lucie Manette, Mr. Lorry, and Mr. Stryver all stay behind after everyone else has left the courthouse to congratulate Charles Darnay on not getting drawn-and-quartered. Hence the chapter title.

Darnay thanks Stryver for defending him in court, provoking this exchange.

pg. 87: "I have done my best for you, Mr. Darnay; and my best is as good as another man's, I believe."

It clearly being incumbent on someone to say, "Much better," Mr. Lorry said it; perhaps not quite disinterestedly, but with the interested object of squeezing himself back again.

Say what you will, I think Dickens is hilarious.

Shortly after this point, Dr. Manette freaks out for no discernable reason, and the Manettes take this as their cue to leave the scene. Once they're gone, Carton enters and has a brief conversation with Mr. Lorry.

pg. 88: "And indeed, sir," pursued Mr. Lorry, not minding him, "I really don't know what you have to do with the matter. If you'll excuse me, as very much your elder, for saying so, I really don't know that it is your business."

"Business! Bless you, I have no business," said Mr. Carton.

"It is a pity you have not, sir."

"I think so, too."

"If you had," pursued Mr. Lorry, "perhaps you would attend to it."

"Lord love you, no!–I shouldn't," said Mr. Carton.

Mr. Lorry leaves in a huff, and Carton takes this opportunity to invite Darnay to dinner. It goes about as well as can be expected.

pg. 90: "Now your dinner is done," Carton presently said, "why don't you cal a health, Mr. Darnay; why don't you give your toast?"

"What health? What toast?"

What pumpkin?

pg. 90: "Why, it's on the tip of your tongue. It ought to be, it must be, I'll swear it's there."

"Miss Manette, then!"

"Miss Manette, then!"

Looking his companion full in the face while he drank the toast, Carton flung his glass over his shoulder against the wall, where it shivered to pieces; then rang the bell, and ordered in another.

I'm certain this is the proper toasting procedure for the period.

pg. 90: "[...] Mr. Darnay, let me ask you a question."

"Willingly, and a small return for your good offices."

"Do you think I particularly like you?"

Carton, you are the world's worst flirt.

pg. 91: "A last word, Mr. Darnay; you think I am drunk?"

"I think you have been drinking, Mr. Carton."

"Think? You know I have been drinking."

"Since I must say so, I know it."

"Then you shall likewise know why. I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me."

Darnay exits pretty quickly after that, leaving Carton to his drinking and mumbling.

pg. 91: When he was left alone, this strange being took up a candle, went to a glass that hung against the wall, and surveyed himself minutely in it.

"Do you particularly like the man? he muttered, at his own image. "Wy should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow."

My margin notes inform me that this is what heterosexuality looks like.

Carton ends the chapter by passing out drunk on the table.

Chapter 5: The Jackal tells us the following.

pg. 92: Sydney Carton, idlest and most unpromising of men, was Stryver's great ally.

According to Dickens, Carton is the jackal to Stryver's lion, though it's a while before we find out why this is.

pg. 92-93: What the two drank together, between Hilary Term and Michaelmas, might have floated a king's ship. Stryver never had a case in hand, anywhere, but Carton was there, with his hands in his pockets, staring at the ceiling of the court; they went the same circuit, and even there they prolonged their usual orgies late into the night, and Carton was rumoured to be seen at broad day, going home stealthily and unsteadily to his lodging, like a dissipated cat.

Does that sound like a walk of shame to anyone else?

On this particular evening, Carton wakes up at the reasonable hour of 10 p.m. and heads on over to Stryker's house. Stryker answers the door himself.

pg. 93: He had his slippers on, and a loose bed-gown, and his throat was bare for his greater ease. [...] "You are a little late, Memory," said Stryver.



pg. 94: "You and your luck, Sydney! Get to work, get to work."

Sullenly enough, the jackal loosened his dress, went into an adjoining room, and came back with a large jug of cold water, a basin, and a towel or two.

Sexy homework party?

Turns out Carton isn't quite as useless as he presents himself to be. He has a gift for distilling information and spends his non-moping hours helping Stryver put together winning court cases. The water and towel are for nursing their mutual hangover.

pg. 95: "The old Sydney Carton of the old Shrewsbury School," said Stryver, nodding his head over him as he reviewed him in the present and the past, "the old seesaw Sydney. Up one minute and down the next; now in spirits and now in despondency!"

"Ah!" returned the other, sighing: "yes! The same Sydney, with the same luck. Even then, I did exercises for other boys, and seldom did my own."

"And why not?"

"God knows. It was my way, I suppose."

Poor, sullen Sydney.

Once their work is done, the two of them go on to discuss how Carton has such a crush on Miss Manette, and isn't that just hilarious? Well, for Stryver, at least. Carton seems to find it much less funny.

pg. 97: Climbing into a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.

Chapter 6: Hundreds of People does not, in fact, contain hundreds of people.

On a certain fine Sunday when the waves of four months had folled over the trial for treason, and carried it, as to the public interest and memory, far out to sea (pg. 97), Mr. Lorry goes to visit the Manettes. They live in the world's most painfully picturesque neighborhood. The inside of the house itself has been decorated by Lucie Manette.

pg. 99: Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful.

I am picturing something like Dolores Umbridge's office in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Kittens EVERYWHERE.

The Manettes themselves are out of the house at the moment, but Mr. Lorry is greeted by Miss Pross, who complains about the titular Hundreds of People vying for the affections of her dear Lucie.

pg. 101: Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this time to be, beneath the surface of her eccentricity, one of those unselfish creatures–found only among women–who will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain, to bright hopes that never shone upon their own sombre lives.

And that is officially the most depressing paragraph I have read so far.

pg. 102: "Do you imagine–" Mr. Lorry had begun, when Miss Pross took him up short with:

"Never imagine anything. Have no imagination at all."

"I stand corrected; do you suppose–you go so far as to suppose, sometimes?"

"Now and then," said Miss Pross.

I like her.

They discuss Dr. Manette's mental state for a bit, which, while better than it was in France, is still troublesome from time-to-time. At long last, the Manettes return.

pg. 104-105: Miss Pross was a pleasant sight, albeit wild, and red, and grim, taking off her darling's bonnet when she came upstairs, and touching it up with the ends of her handkerchief, and blowing the dust off it, and folding her mantle ready for laying by, and smoothing her rich hair with as much pride as she could possible have taken in her own hair if she had been the vainest and handsomest of women. Her darling was a pleasant sight too, embracing her and thanking her, and protesting against her taking so much trouble for her–which last she only dared to do playfully, or Miss Pross, sorely hurt, would have retired to her own chamber and cried. The Doctor was a pleasant sight too, looking on at them, and telling Miss Pross how she spoilt Lucie, in accents and with eyes that had as much spoiling in the as Miss Pross had, and would have had more if it were possible. Mr. Lorry was a pleasant sight too, beaming at all this in his little wig, and thanking his bachelor stars for having lighted him in his declining years to a Home.

Charles Dickens: the Thomas Kinkade of literature.

pg. 105: On this occasion, Miss Pross, responding to Ladybird's pleasant face, and pleasant efforts to please her, unbent exceedingly, so the the dinner was very pleasant, too.

If I read the word "pleasant" one more time, I will puke everywhere.

When everyone's done eating dinner and being terminally pleasant, Charles Darnay shows up. He's able to keep the conversation uplifting for all of a page before ruining everything.

LUCIE: My, isn't everything pleasant!
MR. LORRY: Indeed! What a pleasantly splendid afternoon we're having!
DR. MANETTE: And such lovely pleasant weather, too!
LUCIE: And how was your day, Mr. Darnay?
DARNAY: Eh, it was all right. Hey, didja hear about the guy in the Tower of London who managed to carve the word DIG into the wall before his execution? Wacky!

This makes Dr. Manette freak out a little. At this precise moment, it begins to rain.

Let me reiterate: when the mood of the party goes from pleasant to unhappy, the weather changes from sunshine to thunderstorm.

Dickens is not a subtle writer.

The party retreats indoors to escape the rain. Sydney Carton arrives for tea.

pg. 107: The night was so very sultry, that although they sat with doors and windows open, they were overpowered by heat.

...Sultry, eh?

pg. 107: Lucie sat by her father; Darnay sat beside her; Carton leaned against a window.

Prime brooding position.

pg. 107: "The rain-drops are still falling, large, heavy, and few," said Doctor Manette. "It comes slowly."

"It comes surely," said Carton.

Lucie turns the conversation to her auditory hallucinations of footsteps. Everyone has a different but equally bland theory about them, except for Carton.

pg. 108: "I ask no questions and make no stipulations. There is a great crowd bearing down upon us, Miss Manette, and I see them–by the lightning." He added the last words, after there had been a vivid flash which had shown him lounging in the window.

"And I hear them!" he added again, after a peal of thunder. "Here they come, fast, fierce, and furious!"

Completely appropriate after-dinner speech, I'm sure.

At long last, everyone goes home.

pg. 109: "Good-night, Mr. Carton," said the man of business. "Good-night, Mr. Darnay. Shall we ever see such a night again, together!"

Perhaps. Perhaps, see the great crowd of people with its rush and roar, bearing down upon them, too.


Chapter 7: Monseigneur in Town brings us back to France and gives us an overview of the excesses of the upper class. "Monseigneur" refers to the king himself.

pg. 109: Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease

but it takes no less than four people to serve him a cup of chocolate.

pg. 110: It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two.

But enough about the king. What about everyone else at court? Turns out they're all worse-than-useless too. The focus switches to one of these people, a nameless Marquis, who heads out on the town in his carriage. His driver is so reckless that they end up running over and killing a small peasant child.

Can't really make a joke about that, so I'll just give you a moment to process and then move on.

The child's parents start wailing, which makes sense, given that their kid is dead and all, but the Marquis simply does not get it. Reminds me a bit of the BBC's newest Sherlock, although I don't think even he would be so callous as to offer a single gold coin as payment in exchange for a child's life.

Monsieur Defarge, the wine vendor from way the hell back in book one, shows up to comfort the parents.

pg. 116: "Be a brave man, my Gaspard! It is better for the poor little plaything to die so, than to live. It has died in a moment, without pain. Could it have lived an hour as happily?"

The Marquis turns back to his carriage, only to have his own gold coin thrown back at him. No one will admit to throwing it, but Madame Defarge is knitting rather suspiciously and staring directly at him. The Marquis goes on his way as though this were not intensely foreboding.


For more Dickens, check out the Rant of Two Cities tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.

Date: 2012-01-10 09:33 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I think my English literature class spent probably a week on the death of the child. Given that, as you say, Dickens is not a subtle writer, that was probably overkill.

Personally, I have to give the "cozy to the point of tears" award to C.S. Lewis, but Dickens certainly comes close.

Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease



ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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