Summary: Chapter 10: Two Promises

A year later, Darnay makes a moderate living as a French teacher in London. He visits Doctor Manette and admits his love for Lucie. He honors Manette’s special relationship with his daughter, assuring him that his own love for Lucie will in no way disturb that bond. Manette applauds Darnay for speaking so “feelingly and so manfully” and asks if he seeks a promise from him. Darnay asks Manette to promise to vouch for what he has said, for the true nature of his love, should Lucie ever ask. Manette promises as much. Wanting to be worthy of his confidence, Darnay attempts to tell Manette his real name, confessing that it is not Darnay. Manette stops him short, making him promise to reveal his name only if he proves successful in his courtship. He will hear Darnay’s secret on his wedding day. Hours later, after Darnay has left, Lucie hears her father cobbling away at his shoemaker’s bench. Frightened by his relapse, she watches him as he sleeps that night.

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Summary: Chapter 11: A Companion Picture

Late that same night, Carton and Stryver work in Stryver’s chambers. In his puffed-up and arrogant manner, Stryver announces that he intends to marry Lucie. Carton drinks heavily at the news, assuring Stryver that his words have not upset him. Stryver suggests that Carton himself find “some respectable woman with a little property,” and marry her, lest he end up ill and penniless.

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Summary: Chapter 12: The Fellow of Delicacy

The next day, Stryver plans to take Lucie to the Vauxhall Gardens to make his marriage proposal. On his way, he drops in at Tellson’s Bank, where he informs Mr. Lorry of his intentions. Lorry persuades Stryver to postpone his proposal until he knows for certain that Lucie will accept. This admonition upsets Stryver. He almost insults Lucie as a “mincing Fool,” but Lorry warns him against doing so. Lorry asks that Stryver hold off his proposal for a few hours to give him time to consult the family and see exactly where Stryver stands. Later that night, Lorry visits Stryver and reports that his fears have been confirmed. If Stryver were to propose, the Manettes would reject his offer. Stryver dismisses the entire affair as one of the “vanities” of “empty-headed girls” and begs Lorry to forget it.

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Summary: Chapter 13: The Fellow of No Delicacy

Carton, who frequently wanders near the Manettes’ house late at night, enters the house one August day and speaks to Lucie alone. She observes a change in his face. He laments his wasted life, despairing that he shall never live a better life than the one he now lives. Lucie assures him that he might become much worthier of himself. She believes that her tenderness can save him. Carton insists that he has declined beyond salvation but admits that he has always viewed Lucie as “the last dream of [his] soul.” She has made him consider beginning his life again, though he no longer believes in the possibility of doing so. He feels happy to have admitted this much to Lucie and to know that something remains in him that still deserves pity. Carton ends his confession with a pledge that he would do anything for Lucie, including give his life.

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Analysis: Chapters 10–13

In this section, Dickens develops the love triangle among Lucie, Carton, and Darnay. Rather than simply writing an encyclopedic account of the French Revolution, Dickens balances history with the more private struggles of his principal characters. He links the two sides of his novel thematically, as each raises questions about the possibilities of revolution and resurrection—Carton, for example, like France itself, strikes out for a new life.

It is in Chapter 13 that Dickens lays the foundation for Carton’s eventual turnaround. Upon seeing Carton, Lucie observes a change in his demeanor. Much of this change owes to Carton’s feelings for her. Just as Carton shares Darnay’s physical countenance, he also shares Darnay’s devotion to Lucie. Yet Carton’s confession strikes the reader as more touching and profound than that of his counterpart. The reader certainly believes Darnay as he informs Manette, “Dear Doctor Manette, I love your daughter fondly, dearly, disinterestedly, devotedly. If ever there were love in the world, I love her,” but this declaration, while direct, seems rather vapid and unimaginative. The alliteration of “dearly, disinterestedly, devotedly” highlights the flat—almost bored—tone of the declaration as it slogs through its sequence of adverbs. The closing sentence seems almost a parody of Romantic love poetry. Darnay touts his love as a great force of the universe but does so with the most mundane possible phrasing, and the repetition of the word love is dogged and uninspired.