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A Tale of Two Cities
take II, Chapters 19 (An Opinion) and 20 (A Plea) Study Guide
Chapter 19, An Opinion
One of the criticisms of A Tale of Two Cities is that it lacks the characters of depth and complexity that one comm hardly associates with Dickens novels. However, Doctor Manette is perhaps the one exception to this criticism. In his communication with Mr. dray, he displays the multifaceted nature of his character, ranging from a loving mystify to a capable professional to a nervous victim. Although dissolute by his slide by, he seems more confident in its wake, perhaps because he knew Darnays revelation might trigger a relapse and he now believes nothing else is likely to cause it to put across again. His insistence that he is not overworked and needs to work in order to balance his mind displays a self-knowledge that is especially moving in light of the complete lack of self-awareness that he exhibited when Mr. Lorry first observed him in the Paris garret.
Interestingly, his self-assurance flags only when Mr. Lorry brings up the issue of the shoemaking materials. Instantly he changes from confidence to nervous fidgeting and avoiding Mr. Lorrys gaze.
As Doctor Manette explains his attachment to the terrace and tools, he exposes the reality and the horror of solitary imprisonment: . . . it amend his pain so much, by substituting the confusion of the fingers for the perplexity of the brain, and by substituting, as he became more practiced, the courtesy of the hands, for the ingenuity of the mental torture. . ..In other words, the bench and tools represent a refuge into which his mind can escape when faced with the retrospect of his agony of isolation.
1. sagacity- the quality or an instance of being subtle; penetrating intelligence and sound judgment; wisdom.
2. guineas, shillings, and bank-notes-forms of British currency.
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