ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
[personal profile] ambrmerlinus
We're running into that "I want to quote the entire chapter" problem again.

Chapter 20: A Plea tells us that the very first person to visit Charles and Lucie Darnay when they return from their honeymoon is Sydney Carton. Literally. He's there within hours of their arrival. I assume this is because Carton was dying of loneliness while they were away. It may also be because the Darnays are too bland to have any other friends.

Over the course of the visit, Carton pulls Darnay aside to speak with him privately.

pg. 205: "Mr. Darnay," said Carton, "I wish we might be friends."

"We are already friends, I hope."

"You are good enough to say so, as a fashion of speech; but, I don't mean any fashion of speech. Indeed, when I say I wish we might be friends, I scarcely mean quite that, either."

Dear Darnay,

Do you like me?
Circle one:


But this isn't Moby Dick, so the story doesn't actually go there. Carton attempts to explain himself.

pg. 205-206: You remember a certain famous occasion when I was more drunk than–than usual?"

"I remember a certain famous occasion when you forced me to confess that you had been drinking."


Carton goes on to impress upon Darnay precisely what their future friendship would mean.

pg: 207: If you could endure to have such a worthless fellow, and a fellow of such indifferent reputation, coming and going at odd times, I should ask that I might be permitted to come and go as a privileged person here; that I might be regarded as a useless (and I would add, if it were not for the resemblance I detected between you and me), an un-ornamental, piece of furniture, tolerated for its old service, and taken no notice of. I doubt if I should abuse the permission. It is a hundred to one if I should avail myself of it four times in a year. It would satisfy me, I daresay, to know that I had it."

You're not very good at selling yourself, are you, Carton?

Thanks to (or more likely despite that) winning sales pitch, Darnay agrees, and the two men shake on it. But...

pg. 207: When [Carton] was gone, and in the course of an evening passed with Miss Pross, the Doctor, and Mr. Lorry, Charles Darnay made some mention of this conversation in general terms, and spoke of Sydney Carton as a problem of carelessness and recklessness. He spoke of him, in short, not bitterly or meaning to bear hard upon him, but as anybody might who saw him as he showed himself.

And before I can call him out on it, the narrative does my job for me.

pg. 207: He had no idea that this could dwell in the thoughts of his fair, young wife; but, when he afterwards joined her in their own room, he found her waiting for him with the old pretty lifting of the forehead strongly marked.


Lucie proves herself compassionate and pure-hearted and sweet with her actions, gently admonishing her new husband and asking that he please be nicer to Carton in the future. Darnay apologizes. It's rather heartwarming and even a little bit cute.

But Dickens is not a man to let a moment go by without making sure the reader understands how they're supposed to feel about it.

pg. 208: He bent over the golden head, and put the rosy lips to his, and folded her in his arms. If one forlorn wanderer then pacing the dark streets could have heard her innocent disclosure, and could have seen the drops of pity kissed away by her husband from the soft blue eyes so loving of that husband, he might have cried to the night–and the words would not have parted from his lips for the first time–

"God bless her for her sweet compassion!"

DICKENS: Do you get it, reader? That's you, looking in the window like a huge creeper! You are that guy!

In Chapter 21: Echoing Footsteps Lucie Darnay continues to have auditory hallucinations that act as a handy metaphor for the impending doom that is the French Revolution.

Over the course of the next few years, her life becomes more twee than we thought possible.

pg. 210: Even when there were sounds of sorrow among the rest, they were not harsh nor cruel. Even when golden hair, like her own, lay in a halo on a pillow round the worn face of a little boy, and he said, with a radiant smile, "Dear papa and mamma, I am very sorry to leave you both, and to leave my pretty sister; but I am called, and I must go!" those were not tears all of agony that wetted his young mother's cheek, as the spirit departed from her embrace that had been entrusted to it.

Yeah. That happened.

Anyway, Lucie's got one kid left, a little girl who is also named Lucie, just to make things as confusing as possible. And as for Carton...

pg. 210: Some half-dozen times a year, at most, he claimed his privilege of coming in uninvited, and would be among them through the evening, as he had once done often. he never came there heated with wine.

Aww, he cleans up his act for them! That's kinda sweet.

pg. 210: No man ever really loved a woman, lost her, and knew her with a blameless though an unchanged mind, when she was a wife and a mother, but her children had a strange sympathy with him–an instinctive delicacy of pity for him. What fine hidden sensibilities are touched in such a case, no echoes tell; but it is so, and it was so here. Carton was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her crubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew. The little boy had spoken of him, almost at the last. "Poor Carton! Kiss him for me!"

Annnd we're right back in creepy psychic kid territory. Thanks, Mr. Dickens.

Meanwhile, Stryver married a rich widow with three kids.

pg. 211: These three young gentlemen, Mr. Stryver, exuding patronage of the most offensive quality from every pore, had walked before him like three sheep to the quiet corner in Soho, and had offered as pupils to Lucie's husband: delicately saying, "Halloa! here are three lumps of bread-and-cheese towards your matrimonial picnic, Darnay!" The polite rejection of the three lumps of bread-and-cheese had quite bloated Mr. Stryver with indignation, which he afterwards turned to account in the training of the young gentlemen, by directing them to beware of the pride of beggars, like that tutor-fellow.

lol Stryver

Six years later, in mid-July of 1789, Mr. Lorry drops by the Darnay-Manette residence. He's been very busy lately at the bank because all of their French clients are depositing everything they own. Wonder why?

We don't have to wonder for very long, as the scene switches to the storming of the Bastille.

pg. 214: Every living creature there held life as of no account, and was demented with a passionate readiness to sacrifice it.

Sounds like Lolthmas.

pg. 214: Madame [Defarge]'s resolute right hand was occupied with an axe, in place of the usual softer implements, and in her girdle were a pistol and a cruel knife.

Her husband, meanwhile, is rallying the troops.

pg. 214-215: "Work, comrades all, work! Work, Jacques One, Jacques Two, Jacques One Thousand, Jacques Two Thousand, Jacques Five-and-Twenty Thousand; in the name of all the Angels or the Devils–which you prefer–work!"

They tear down the walls and break into the Bastille in short order. Monsieur Defarge grabs one of the prison officers and demands to be taken to One Hundred and Five, North Tower. When they get there, he and Jacques Three ransack the cell and set everything ablaze.

While her husband's busy, Madame Defarge takes care of the governor.

pg. 218: She stood immovable close to the grim old officer, and remained immovable close to him; remained immovable close to him through the streets, as Defarge and the rest bore him along; remained immovable close to him when he got near his destination, and began to be struck at from behind; remained immovable close to him when the long-gathering rain of stabs and blows fell heavy was so close to him when he dropped dead under it, that, suddenly animated, she put her foot upon his neck, and with her cruel knife–long ready–hewed off his head.

Chapter 22: The Sea Still Rises

One week later, everyone's hanging out at the Defarge's wine shop.

pg. 220: The raggedest night-cap, awry on the wretchedest head, had this crooked significance in it: "I know how hard it has grown for me, the wearer of this, to support life in myself; but do you know how easy it has grown for me, the wearer of this, to destroy life in you?"

Suddenly, Monsieur Defarge himself runs in with great and terrible news.

pg. 221: "Does everybody here recall old Foulon, who told the famished people that they might eat grass, and who died, and went to Hell?"

Turns out the "dying and going to Hell" bit wasn't as true as everyone thought.

pg. 221: A moment of profound silence followed. Defarge and his wife looked steadfastly at one another. The Vengeance stooped, and the jar of a drum was heard as she moved it at her feet behind the counter.

"Patriots!" said Defarge, in a determined voice, "are we ready?"

Instantly Madame Defarge's knife was in her girdle; the drum was beating in the streets, as if it and a drummer had flown together by magic; and The Vengeance, uttering terrific shrieks, and flinging her arms about her head like all the forty furies at once, was tearing from house to house, rousing the women.

Oh, this is going to be good.

The men and women of the wine shop whip themselves into a frenzy and the ensuing mob marches to the Hall of Examination at the Hôtel de Ville to find their prey.

pg. 222: "See!" cried madame, pointing with her knife. "See the old villain bound with ropes. That was well done to tie a bunch of grass upon his back. Ha, ha! That was well done. Let him eat it now!" Madam put her knife under her arm, and clapped her hands as at a play.

Anybody else reminded of Drusilla?

The crowd, prompted by Madame Defarge, breaks into applause and hauls Foulon off to his grisly end.

Chapter 23: Fire Rises

Things aren't going so well back at the home of the dead Marquis.

pg. 225: there were officers to guard the soldiers, but not one of them knew what his men would so–beyond this: that it would probably not be what he was ordered.

On the road to the village, Jacques-mender-of-roads meets up with yet another Jacques. Jacques-who-does-not-mend-roads gives no clue as to his purpose in the area, but later that night the Marquis' house catches fire. While one unnamed person begs for help putting the fire out, 250 villagers and all the soldiers stand unmoved by the sight of 40-foot flames. Or, as they put it:

pg. 229: "It must burn."

The night's excitements do not stop at arson.

pg. 230-231: Not only that; but the village, light-headed with famine, fire, and bell-rigning, and bethinking itself that Monsieur Gabelle had to do with the collection of rent and taxes–though it was but a small instalment of taxes, and no rent at all, that Gabelle had got in those latter days–became impatient for an interview with him, and, surrounding his house, summoned him to come forth for personal conference. Whereupon, Monsieur Gabelle did heavily bar his door, and retire to hold counsel with himself. The result of that conference was that Gabelle again withdrew himself to his housetop behind his stack of chimneys; this time resolved, if his door was broken in (he was a small Southern man of retaliative temperament), to pitch himself head foremost over the parapet, and crush a man or two below.

It doesn't come to that; Gabelle survives the night and is taken away in the morning.

Chapter 24: Drawn to the Loadstone Rock

Three years later, August 1792, in London, Charles Darnay is hanging out with all the other French expats at Tellson's bank. He's talking with Mr. Lorry, who intends to go to Paris with Jerry Cruncher to help with bank stuff. Darnay is trying to convince him of what a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad idea that is in the current political climate. Meanwhile, this sentence happens:

pg. 236: when the thing that was to be went on to shape itself out.

Shaped like itself, anyone?

Mr. Lorry cannot be deterred from his Parisian mission, but he does have a letter on hand.

pg. 236: "Very pressing. To Monsieur heretofore the Marquis St. Evrémonde, of France. Confided to the cares of Messrs. Tellson and Co., Bankers, London, England."

Who could this mysterious gentleman possibly be?

EXPAT #1: Isn't he the nephew of that dead guy?
EXPAT #2: Yeah, he ran away from his destiny and then everything went to shit.
EXPAT #3: Way too sympathetic to the peasant class. They've probably eaten him by now.
STRYVER: Nobody knows why I'm here, but since I am, I figured I'd be as offensive as possible. I've never met the gentleman in question but I'm sure he's a coward and a villain and a huge dork.
DARNAY: Really? Because I have met the gentleman in question, and I think you're being a little unfair.
STRYVER: Oh, really? You know him? Can you give him a message for me?
DARNAY: Sure, why not.
STRYVER: Tell him to suck it.
DARNAY: Give me that letter. I'm leaving.

Because, surprise, Charles Darnay is actually Charles St. Evrémonde. He and his letter go out into the street. It conveys (roughly) this message:

Prison of the Abbaye, Paris
June 21, 1972

Dearest Marquis,

Remember that one time when you abandoned all your responsibilities and told me to take care of it and hope the peasants didn't starve too badly? Yeah, that strategy kind of blew and now they're blaming me for all their problems and I'm about to be executed. Pretty sure it's all your fault. If you could come on over and maybe prevent my imminent demise, that would be cool.

Your afflicted,

Darnay feels incredibly guilty. To make up for this guilt, he resolves to go to Paris immediately, leaving behind only a letter for his wife and child.

To make up for running away from his responsibilities in Paris, he has decided to run away from his responsibilities in London.



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

Date: 2012-01-23 09:01 pm (UTC)
ivorygates: (HYENA: flamingo hat)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
1. Sydney Carton: Charles Dickens's answer to Tony Stark Y/Y?

2. As I read this, I discover myself possessed of a wish that is the dearest wish of my heart, viz., that you should take on this same author's Oliver Twist.

Date: 2012-01-23 09:55 pm (UTC)
ivorygates: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
Movie!Tony, clearly...

And I meant Great Expectations anyway. :( Good god, where is my braine....?
Edited Date: 2012-01-23 09:56 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-23 10:28 pm (UTC)
ivorygates: (GEN: cooking class arsenic)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
Hm. Yes. But the "i am the cutest worthless marsh-gribbit you ever will see" thang is totally there...


Date: 2012-01-23 10:52 pm (UTC)
ivorygates: (GEN: barcode)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
Chaz brings teh wacky...

Date: 2012-01-23 10:30 pm (UTC)
ivorygates: (GEN: english is a language that)
From: [personal profile] ivorygates
Great Gatsby. Shirts. Also known for launching a line of white-Teflon-lined cookware as a tie-in to the Mia Farrow version.

...because of course Daisy uses Teflon cookware.

Date: 2012-01-23 09:59 pm (UTC)
foxysquid: (fujimoto)
From: [personal profile] foxysquid
Haha, that last sentence made me laugh out loud. So true.

Sydney Carton is the real hero, as far as I'm concerned! But that's because I'm biased and liked Sydney the best when I read the book years ago.

I'm also laughing about the creepy psychic children and "lol Stryver" (aptly put).

Date: 2012-01-23 10:06 pm (UTC)
foxysquid: (i die by gorey)
From: [personal profile] foxysquid
Yes, what could possibly go wrong with Darnay's cunning plan?! Dammit, Darnay.

I'm voting for Sydney, in spite of the fact that he might not be the most responsible candidate. Still, he's not the worst!

Date: 2012-01-24 12:41 am (UTC)
fadeaccompli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fadeaccompli
Oo! My RL ancestor actually gets to show up on page! (...briefly.) This is really making me want to go try reading the book myself, except for when Lucie & Co are being snooze-fests. (Did it really give her a son and kill him off as twee-ly as it seems? You wouldn't think child fatality could be that...saccharine.)

Date: 2012-01-24 01:32 am (UTC)
fadeaccompli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fadeaccompli
Governor of the Bastille! Various of his daughters fled to Russia; my dad's family comes from the one who ran off to America instead. It's one of the two slightly interesting things of my entire ancestry, as far as I know it, so I treasure it.

And, wow. Lucie's son, we hardly knew you. (Judging by your dialogue, this is for the best.)


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

February 2012

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