Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Book the Second - Chap. 14-18

The plot thickens. Again, no general commentary, simply discussion points. My own responses, in red, have been added to Discussion #3.

Discussion Points/Questions

Chapter Fourteen

1) When did we meet the character Roger Cly? He was one of Darnay's accusers.

2) The chapter seems almost gratuitous, but it creates an important "atmosphere" for the novel... what do you think is its significance? Death is an important theme. It haunts the characters of the novels, like it does young Jerry. The chapter also highlights the need for genuine "resurrection."

3) Now we know why Jerry Cruncher so fears the idea of the final resurrection of the body - he is a "resurrection man" - he digs up bodies and sells their parts for scientific experiments. Comment upon the following: the trade; its being called "fishing"; Jerry's introduction for the first time by his Christian name (Jeremiah); and the sport of chasing innocent people in which the rioters engage. Some thoughts:

Jerry is a perverse sort of "fisher of men." Sitting on his stool outside of Telsons, watching the world go by, he is characterized ironically very much like the Prophet Jeremiah, who was not heeded until after his death. Jeremiah was a prophet of judgement; Jerry, a "resurrection man," has often commented what a bad lot he'd have if "recalling to life" were in fashion. Perhaps that statement is intended to have a prophetic import by Dickens: many more than Jerry will be in bad shape when "recalling to life" comes to fashion.

Chapter Fifteen

1) The tall man who murdered the Marquis (Gaspard, called Jacques) was part of an underground movement, all of whose members, led by Defarge in Saint-Antoine, are named Jacques. How does this movement keep its records of enemy names? In Mme. Defarge's knitted shrouds.

2) Comment upon the scene in Versailles when King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette parade in front of the peasants. No comment. Hah.

Chapter Sixteen

1) What is Mme. Defarge's response to hearing that Lucie Manette has married the new Marquis D'Evremonde (Charles Darnay)? She knits Darnay into her register.

2) Characterize Mme. Defarge. There is one literary figure, archetypal, with whom she very easily can be compared... who is that character? Her passtime of knitting also has a literary precedent... can you identify it? The literary character with whom Mme. Defarge is comparable is Lady Macbeth, particularly in her handling of the knife and her influence upon her husband.

Mme. Defarge's knitting "as steadfast as Fate itself," is associated with the Fates themselves, who, in Greek mythology, were three sisters weaving the cloth of human life.

Chapter Seventeen

Open for discussion/comment.

Chapter Eighteen

1) What transpired in the conversation between Darnay and Manette on the morning of the wedding? We find out later for sure that Darnay revealed his real name to Manette.

General note
All of the currents of the novel are running in one direction. The themes are of death, oppression, imprisonment, isolation. The novel is about contrasts and separations. Dickens juxtaposes people against one another throughout the novel. Carton and Stryver are the notable example at this point, but there is more to come. Throughout all, though, there is a "golden thread." Lucie Manette symbolizes a them of LOVE. Love cuts through the darknesses of the novel - it interrupts Mr. Lorry's constant businesslike attitude - it causes Mrs. Cruncher to "go flopping on her knees" and abide with beatings - it allows Dr. Manette to give away his beloved daughter in marriage. Make note of these contrasting themes. There is a need for light, for freedom, for unity, for resurrection, for salvation everywhere in the book. The answer, Dickens seems to be implying, is love. Pay attention to how this implication develops.



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