A Tale of Two Cities


Book 3, Chapter 1

Book three opens with Darnay’s trip to Paris.  He goes through the French countryside, and he finds that he is not welcomed as he thought he would be.  Rather than being praised for renouncing his title, in each village his is criticized because he is an aristocrat.  They also condemn him as an emigrant because he has fled France. He even discovers that the new government has passed a law that confiscates the property of emigrants and sentences them to death.  Despite those two significant marks against him, no one prevents Darnay from traveling.  Instead, they let him proceed because he tells them that he is traveling to France to free Gabelle.  Darnay hires two men to escort him to Paris.  However, things go terribly awry once he gets to Paris.  Rather than freeing Gabelle, Darnay finds himself in prison.  Even worse, he is a prisoner in secret.  While Darnay does not understand the significance of this, his fellow prisoners seem to realize that it is something ominous, and they express their concern about him.  When Defarge escorts Darnay to the prison, Darnay asks him to inform Mr. Lorry that he has been imprisoned.

That Darnay is in prison and in peril brings the story full-circle; his relationship with the Manette family did not really begin until they had a role in his treason trial in England.  Therefore, that Lucie and Dr. Manette are seemingly going to be called upon to rescue him again makes sense from the perspective of plot continuity.  Another element of continuity is the idea of secret imprisonment; Dr. Manette was a secret prisoner who was unable to contact friends and family and inform them of his whereabouts.  Likewise, Darnay is to be held in secret and is prohibited from contacting anyone. Moreover, that Darnay came to France to free Gabelle cannot help but remind readers of the earlier trip Mr. Lorry took to France to retrieve Dr. Manette.  However, one sees significant character changes by this point in the novel.  At the novel’s beginning, Monsieur Defarge was...

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