Ch. 6 ~ Hundreds of People
Mr. Lorry is off to have a visit with the Manettes, and behold, we see the wild red woman again, sadly not hatted, as she is indoors. I aspire to be Miss Pross, one who frightens meek men with her ferocity. I find Dickens’ description of Miss Pross …somewhat disturbing. He seems to dismiss her ferocity and individuality as and shortness as all being part of a certain eccentric kind of woman who,
“for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves to youth, when they have lost it, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain, to bright hopes that never shown upon their own sombre lives.” p.86-7
…which is a fancy way of saying co-dependent, no? I dunno – I don’t think Miss Pross is utterly selfless, just because she’s a single woman serving a bright, beautiful and very sought-after young girl. She’s a family friend, and though Mr. Darnay certain gives her the “twitches” (again – high amusement!) she certainly understands the lay of the emotional landscape better than Mr. Jarvis Lorry, who is still mucking around Dr. Manette’s psyche, wondering why he doesn’t delve into the whole ten-years-of-imprisonment thing. (Aren’t we a bit pre-Freud at this point? Why this attempt at analysis? This might be important later…)
“It’s a dreadful remembrance. Besides that, his loss of himself grew out of it. Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again. That alone wouldn’t make the subject pleasant, I shouldn’t think.”
You think, Mr. Lorry?
I love that Mr. Carton is lounging around the premises, even though he and Mr. Darnay aren’t exactly going to be buddies in this enterprise.
This is a spooky chapter, again deeply steeped in foreboding as Mr. Darnay AND Mr. Carton, AND Mr. Lorry all wait in the Manette household, listening to echoing footsteps and waiting for lightning… foreshadowing something wicked this way coming.
Ch. 7 & 8 ~ Monseigneur in Town/ Monseigneur in the Country
Apparently the word “lackey” seems so much better with a French spelling! Lacquey… Or, maybe only French lackeys get q’s and u’s?
And now, we met a rich, chocolate-loving Frenchman. Monseigneur.
Mon = my; seigneur = Lord, and we have Monseigneur. This is the French word used for princes, cardinals, archbishops, or bishops, though someone who says “The earth and the fulness thereof are mine,” doesn’t strike me as someone terribly religious. However, there was a Cardinal or two mixed up with the revolution. Hmm.
There are a bunch of these rich people — and they’re basically all disgustingly rich, and in what Dickens calls a state of Fancy Ball dress — all powdered and waxed and otherwise arranged. Dickens has a fine contempt for this lot, and sums it up nicely:
“The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur.”
And in Monseigneur’s salon, we meet another man — who is ticked off that the Monseigneur hasn’t noticed him. He goes out — drives wildly in his coach down a narrow street, as the very rich are wont to do, and there is a terribly accident. He kills the child of a commoner. Unfortunately, the Marquis has turned to the kind of evil that treats people as things. He supposes that, if his horses are not damaged, a gold coin should be enough to cease the “noise” made by a bereft and distraught father. And then we meet Monsieur DeFarge again.
He took out his purse.
“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourself and your children. On or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done to my horses?”
When DeFarge has a gold coin flung at him — regally — to spend as he might choose — he flings it back into Monsieur the Marquis’ carriage. And then, things end on a really nasty note:
“You dogs!” said the Marquis, but smoothly, and with an unchanged front, except as to the spots on his nose: I would ride over any of your very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels.”
SO cowed was their condition, and so long and hard their experience of what such a man could do to them, wihtin the law and beyond it, that not a voice, or a hand, or even an eye was raised. But the woman who stood knitting looked up steadily, and looked the Marquis in the face.
Ch. 9 ~ The Gorgon’s Head
Was there any regret on the part of the Marquis, as he takes to his rooms? No. He’s… definitely paranoid, and looks out of the blinds, but mainly, he’s infuriating. His nephew (DARNAY!?) has the right of it, when he says their name is probably detested more than any in France. The Marquis is annoyingly cheery about that.
It’s a bit startling that through his nephew, the Marquis knows of the Manettes – ! He makes vague allusions to his nephew’s new philosophy, which he seems to connect to the sweetly foreheaded daughter, and scorns Darnay’s choice to abandon France and the family property.
However, in the morning, Dickens makes an allusion to a Gorgon head… and the Marquis is dead, courtesy of Jacques… whose last name we don’t know.
We know the Greek mythology: the Gorgon was a protective power was so strong she turned people to stone. The Marquis certainly isn’t moving anymore… but how do the people in the village know?? Who is this Jacques who is revenging and protecting them?!
People die of want, and their survivors petition the splendid people whirling by in their bright carriages, and are ignored. Is there a ghost riding with him, being dragged along? Is this symbolic, or, like the bad crops and the thin people, more foreshadowing? All I can say for sure is that this, children, is the beginning of a class war.