First of all, I am enjoying A Tale of Two Cities far more than the other books we have read. This book has a flow and it is easier to follow. There is no ridiculous amount of characters or scene shifts every other page. Needless to say, I am a happy camper!
As A Tale of Two Cities begins, an historical theme is immediately introduced. We are immersed into a time period when distrust was prevalent. I believe Dickens begins this way in order to foreshadow the story that is about to unfold. He vividly recounts the criminal activity in France and the repulsive acts of the French government. In a sense, he is recalling to life the past of a country. He is bringing to light the problems that were plaguing society and mentions instances of death often. Next, we are presented with the beginning of the actual story. Once again, distrust, dishonesty, criminal behavior, and suspicion are intertwined into his writing. We have this mail coach battling up a hill, while the passengers are all suspecting one another of being delinquents and lawbreakers. Then, this mysterious man and his horse appear bringing a message to one of the passengers. At this point, we are once again introduced to the phrase “recalled to life.” However, at this time in the book, I am unsure what it is implying. Immediately into the next chapter, the theme of death is once again brought to light.( I think Dickens keeps recalling to life certain topics and themes in his writing) Dickens implicates death as the one way to forever keep your secrets from the world. But, will he soon show us how to recall these secrets to life?
It certainly seems as if something is being brought out of the grave as Jerry rides to deliver his next message. A flutter of paranormal activity is in the air and Mr. Lorry is experiencing the same things on the mail coach – except far more freaky. This continual conversation Lorry keeps having with buried bodies seems to be significant. (Especially since he received the letter stating the phrase “recalled to life”)Also, who is “her”? Is it “Mam’selle” (Ms. Manette)? I am perplexed by this and hoping to soon find out about this mysterious lady. Furthermore, what is the significance of “18 years”? Once again, I am baffled by Dickens. But, all of these hallucinations with the dead must indicate something. Since they are all being dug up and returning to the world, the theme of “recalled to life” is once again prominent in the story line.
Pulling back into the historical reference, I finally saw where Dickens made a connection. In chapter 4: “Yes. We are quite a French House, as well as an English one.” England and France are united again, after being described deeply in the first chapter. Since there is going to be so much travel back and forth, is Dickens possibly trying to show us differences between the two places?
Upon reading further, an obvious place where the theme of “recalled to life” is displayed is the story of Ms. Manette’s father. Now that he is alive, it is her responsibility to restore his livelihood and turn him back into a normal man. Also, isn’t it strange that Mr. Lorry keeps making himself out to be a robot? He emphasizes that nothing is personal, everything is business. Does he need to be recalled to life as well?
Obviously, there is a lot to take in after reading this first book! Being restored to life is used many places and I can only imagine that it will continue throughout the book. But is Dickens actually going to break out the Ouija board, channel some spirits, and bring back the life of some dead spirits? I wouldn’t put it past him!