Friday, December 30, 2005

Book the Second - Chap. 7-13

This section of Book the Second: The Golden Thread is the beginning of the real rising action of the novel. Things start to get kind of confusing, so stay with it. I have no general commentary, simply discussion points. I will also be going back and adding some material to the previous two discussions, such as my own answers to the questions I posed. This added material will be in red.

So check out discussions one and two. (Be sure to reload pages)

Discussion Points/Questions

Chapter Seven

1) Comment on the following quote from the text:
The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur....

But, the comfort was, that all the company at the grand hotel of Monseigneur were perfectly dressed. If the Day of Judgment had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct. Such frizzling and powdering and sticking up of hair, such delicate complexions artificially preserved and mended, such gallant swords to look at, and such delicate honour to the sense of smell, would surely keep anything going, for ever and ever.
Dickens was always a "social writer." Even though he's going to present the revolution in France as a horrible reality, he also exposes the dispicable society that caused it.

Chapter Eight

1) Who was hiding beneath the cart of Marquis d'Evremonde? The "tall man" from Saint-Antoine.

2) What - other than establishing the fact of a stowaway - is the point of this chapter? To show the relationship of the Marquis d'Evremonde and the peasants in his precinct.

Chapter Nine

1) What do you make of Marquis d'Evremonde's sinister reference to Doctor Manette and his daughter? (p. 130) The fact that the Marquis knows about these two strikes a chord. It's not really foreshadowing, per se but a hint of what's to come.

2) Who murdered the Marquis? The "tall man" from Saint-Antoine.

3) The passage in which Dickens speaks of the Marquis' death is brilliantly constructed, and worth a second look: the three hours of darkness; the sunrise painting stone faces the color of blood; and this passage:
The carol of the birds was loud and high, and, on the weather-beaten sill of the great window of the bed-chamber of Monsieur the Marquis, one little bird sang its sweetest song with all its might. At this, the nearest stone face seemed to stare amazed, and, with open mouth and dropped under-jaw, looked awe-stricken.
The "nearest stone face" is the amazed face of the murdered Marquis himself. It truly is an excellently written and very exciting scene. Amen.

Chapter Ten

1) The chapter's title is "The Two Promises"... what are they? The first promise is Manette's to Darnay - that he testify to Darnay's sincerity if asked by Lucie. The second, more important, is Darnay's - that he will tell M. Manette his real name at a time of the latter's choosing (Darnay's wedding day).

2) What do you think is the meaning of the following words, spoken by Doctor Manette?
If there were- Charles Darnay, if there were... any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old, against the man she really loved- the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head- they should all be obliterated for her sake.
Tying in with the allusion made by the Marquis earlier, it can only mean that somehow Darnay's appearance - and last name, which Manette suspects - remind him of his time in France.

3) What did Lucie hear in Doctor Manette's chamber? (p. 140-141) He might have been making shoes again.

Chapter Eleven

Open for discussion. Dickens continues to pull at the reader's heartstrings through the unlikely character of Sydney Carton...

Chapter Twelve

1) The chapter's title is "The Fellow of Delicacy"... to whom does this refer? Explain. The true fellow of delicacy is Mr. Lorry. The way in which he controls - and allows to rise - his temper, and his plan for investigating whether Stryver's proposal will be well-recieved, are all very refined and delicate. Dickens portrays him as a true gentleman, the foil to types like Stryver, and a truly feeling man despite his protestations that he is only concerned with matters of "business."

Chapter Thirteen

An emotional chapter, please feel free to comment on how this one made you feel.

1) There seems to be a finality to this chapter. It has a note of doom to it. Why do you think that is? What do you make of Sydney Carton's "last supplication"? Hints: Suffice to say that this chapter is very important. Syndey Carton speaks of his life as something that "might have been." He says that between he and Lucie there is "an impassible space." The central themes of the novel have come to a head in him - but Lucie is there to try to shine light upon his darkness. His last supplication is to Lucie, to remember that "For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything... [to know that] there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you."

Carton professes a Christ-like love. This theme of love, in contrast to the other themes of the novel, as a possible answer to those themes, begins to develop more clearly in the next section. Two things are important to note: Dickens makes the conflict between death and life, isolation and love the underlying thrust of the entire book's action and microcosms the whole scheme in the lives of individual characters, but only in certain aspects. In only one character does Dickens seem to bring all of the larger conflicts to bear together - that character is Sydney Carton.



Post a Comment

<< Home