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Free Study Guide-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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Chapter Ten: Two Promises

Summary

One year goes by, and Charles Darnay is now earning a living in England as a French tutor and translator. As a result of their various roles in the trial, Darnay, Sydney Carton, and Mr. Stryver have become friends of Dr. Manette and his daughter and frequently visit them. Darnay is in love with Lucie, but has not yet openly expressed his feelings.

One summer evening, knowing that Lucie is away from home, Darnay decides to consult her father about his feelings for his daughter. Anticipating what Darnay has to say, the doctor, who is now an energetic man with a firm purpose, does not want to talk about his daughter; Darnay, however, insists on declaring his love for her. He tells Dr. Manette that he understands the closeness between the two of them and would never want to separate father and daughter. Darnay assures the older man that he would always live with them. The Doctor thanks Darnay heartily and believes him to be pure and truthful. He promises that if Lucie ever declares her love for Darnay, he will approve their marriage.

Darnay attempts to tell the Doctor his real name and the reason for his being in England, but the doctor refuses to listen. Instead, he makes Darnay promise to reveal his secret on the morning of his wedding if he is to marry Lucie.

On returning home later that evening, Lucie finds her father in a great state of agitation and finds him back on his shoemaker's bench. On hearing her voice, Dr. Manette comes to her side, and they walk around for a while before going to bed.

Notes

This chapter deals with love in its finest and truest meaning. Darnay places his love for Lucie on the same exalted plane as the old Doctor's love for his dead wife. His proud declaration that he would never want anyone to put in a word for him even if it were to save his life is ironic. He is sure that there is nothing against him to stop Lucie from loving him. His love, however, is not selfish. He does not expect to have Lucie all to himself and does not plan to ever separate her from her father. Darnay recognizes that the affection between Dr. Manette and Lucie is also of the highest order.


The Doctor's words, when he promises to let Lucie marry him if she loves him, are prophetic. He says that even if there are any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old, against the man she really loves, he will do anything in his power to obliterate them. He loves his daughter so much that he is willing to forget his sufferings and the wrongs done to him for her happiness. The promise he extracts from Darnay is also important. The Doctor instinctively fears that now is not the right time to learn Darnay's secret as it could prejudice him, and this will in turn affect Lucie's happiness.

Through this meeting with Dr. Manette, more is learned about the character of Darnay. It shows him to be truly noble. He loves Lucie, but does not want to express his feeling to her until he has the doctor's approval. When he presents his case to Lucie's father, he can genuinely say he has nothing about which to be ashamed. He does, however, try to explain his family connection to the doctor, who does not want to hear the explanation.

It is important to notice that something about Darnay truly troubles Dr. Manette. When Lucie returns home, he is agitated over the visit. In fact, he is working at the cobbler's bench, a reflection of the pathetic man he was in France.

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