A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 3, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Charles arrives in France and finds things very different from when he left. At each village and checkpoint, he is subjected to the sneering of revolutionaries dedicated to what the narrator calls the new republic of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death." Charles feels each gate close behind him like a prison door.
Themes of imprisonment and fate merge as Charles is gradually locked into his journey to Paris. The narrator's addition of the words "or death" to the motto of the Revolution shows its ideals have been perverted.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Imprisonment Theme Icon
Three soldiers accompany Charles to Paris as his "escort." Upon arriving in Paris, they deliver Charles—whom they now call their "prisoner"—to Monsieur Defarge. Charles demands to know under what charges he is held, and is told that new laws against emigrants have been passed. Defarge quietly asks him why he ever returned to France in this, the age of "La Guillotine." Charles asks Defarge to help him. Defarge refuses.
As he gets closer to Paris, Charles goes from free man to escorted suspect to prisoner, though he has done nothing. Defarge refuses to help Charles, but he shows some sympathy. The revolutionaries invoke the guillotine as if it's a saint: bloodthirsty violence has replaced religious compassion.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Imprisonment Theme Icon
Defarge conducts Charles to the prison of La Force with a note for the jailor saying "In secret." The jail is full to bursting with aristocrats who welcome Charles with incredible politeness and sympathize with his fate. Charles is jailed in a solitary cell in a tower. He realizes he has been virtually left for dead. Charles paces off the dimensions of the room again and again: "five paces by four and a half."
Defarge helped free Dr. Manette from his secret imprisonment, but now Defarge secretly jails Manette's son-in-law. The Revolution has become a tyranny. Charles paces to deal with the isolation of imprisonment, just as Dr. Manette turned to making shoes.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Secrecy and Surveillance Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Imprisonment Theme Icon