A Tale of Two Cities


Book 3, Chapter 6

Darnay’s trial reveals the ridiculous state of the French criminal justice system at this time period.  Darnay gives substantial and reasonable evidence in support of his innocence, but a conviction still seems likely.  However, Dr. Manette and Mr. Lorry testify on behalf of Darnay, resulting in a not guilty verdict.  In addition, together the trio of men seems to have been able to sway the attitude in the courtroom.  While the spectators were cheering Darnay’s possible execution at the start of the trial, they cheer for his release at the end of the trial.  In fact, the crowd forms a mob that lifts Darnay up and carries him home.  This change in mob mentality is important, as it reinforces what Dickens has tried to demonstrate throughout the novel, that mobs are rather fickle.  Darnay’s reunion with his family is very emotional, and Dr. Manette is proud that he played a role in Darnay’s release.  However, the chapter does not end on a happy note.  While the Darnay family is celebrating, Madame Defarge is knitting.  She has determined that Darnay will die, and it has been shown throughout the novel that she will not be swayed.  Moreover, Dickens shows the wildly vacillating mob in order to make sure that the reader is aware that public support in this scenario is a fleeting thing.  Darnay and the Manettes may not realize that his freedom and safety are short-lived, but the reader is certainly aware that he remains in danger.

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