We have had horror, now we have menace.
Having been sucked into the plot I find myself wanting to give a pantomime warning to Lucie as she stands on a street corner desperately hoping that her husband can see her and know that she is with him.
Lorry and Manette having successfully kept Lucie from the horrors of the massacres the household settles down to a calm domestic life for the next fifteen months. Lorry ploughs his accounts, Manette roams the prisons and Lucie tends to the sink and makes a home taking care to ensure that Darnay is catered for even though he is not there. When Manette suggests that Darnay might see her from a prison window Lucie is happy to stand for two hours in all weathers on the off-chance that her husband can at least gaze on her. A steady flow of messages and letters keep her spirits up until Manette can persuade a tribunal to set him free. At least that is what a straightfoward reading would show.
Underneath all this kitchen sink Dickens has weaved much more menacing outcome for three of our characters and he draws it out with some elegant threats which the victims don’t appear to understand.
Out in the street Lucie is vulnerable not only to street crime but also the menace of tumbrils rolling by. The spot chosen for her, beside a blank wall across from a wood sawyers shop, is in full view of many windows in La Force and I find the whole setting filled with ominous threat. An empty street surrounded by blank walls and overseen by blank, black panes is an un-nerving situation to be in. Which has me wondering how come that Darnay can move around a Republican prison and spend time on his own staring out of a window. When Darnay is not in the room anyone could be there looking down and gloating on a prisoner held without bars.
Getting letters out of La Force would be strictly controlled. Controlled by whom? In this case my head tells me that it only can be the Defarges who are determined that the name Darnay/Evremond will cease to exist and one way of ensuring Lucie doesn’t try to leave Paris is to offer some indirect contact with Darnay..
The presence of a wood sawyer, whom we learn is no other than Jaques Four, and under Defarge’s influence, poses a continual threat to Lucie and her child. His “La, la,La; la, la, la. And off with his head.” etc. tells us what he hopes will be Lucie’s family fate.
The dance of the Carmagnole, a mixture of a wild Circassian Circle mixed in with a Four Hand Reel danced to a fast military beat and ending with a charge of screaming Pamplonian bulls, is one of the most menacing pieces I have read. No wonder that Lucie is frightened and bewildered.
She recieves re-assurance from her father who tells her there was no cause for alarm and that Charles will be freed by the tribunal next day.
The silent appearance of Mme Defarge gives reason to doubt his words. A short greeting and she is gone “a shadow over the white road.” The two short lines describing thi scene are loaded with contempt and Mme is surely contemplating the notion that ‘vengeance is a dish best eaten cold.’
Darnay and Lucie don’t stand a chance against the determination of the Defarges and the Jaques. Only a miracle can save them now, but where will it come from and how?