A Tale of Two Cities


Book 3, Chapter 12

Just as Dr. Manette’s history has been revealed, this chapter reveals the history of Madame Defarge, and helps explain her hatred for Darnay.  Carton goes to the Defarge’s wine shop, and while they notice his resemblance to Darnay, Carton’s feigned ignorance of French makes them dismiss him as a threat.  He eavesdrops on a conversation between the Defarges, the Vengeance, and Jacques Three, who are trying to decide whether or not to denounce Dr. Manette, Lucie, and young Lucie.  Monsieur Defarge is the only one who believes that they should not denounce them, while Madame Defarge seems determined to do so.  She reveals that she is the younger sister of the raped and murdered peasant woman, suddenly revealing the reason behind her obsession with Darnay.  Moreover, the depth of her hatred makes it clear that she will not see reason.  For example, she wants to denounce Dr. Manette, even though he cared for her sister to the best of his ability, risked his own safety to report her killers, and spent a large portion of his life in jail because of his efforts.  Carton realizes that Lucie, young Lucie, and Dr. Manette remain in danger as long as they are in France.  Carton tells Mr. Lorry about the danger and observes that Dr. Manette has one again reverted to shoemaking mode, which makes it clear that he will not be of any use in helping Darnay.  Carton seizes control of the situation, instructing Mr. Lorry to get the family ready for travel and to have a carriage ready the next afternoon.

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