And so, finally, the ‘twist’ we have all been keeping under our hats is revealed! Whether Sidney will actually die for Charles and ‘his wife and child’, as he explains to the seamstress, or whether a dramatic last-minute reprieve or rescue will be instigated, is to be seen. I wanted to take this moment, really, to briefly consider the extraordinary emotional wallop of this short conversation between Sidney and the seamstress, which I will confess did move me to tears. I have been pretty critical – along with some others! – of the silly, convoluted moments in the plot, but here it seems as if we have reached the moment towards which all those twists and turns were tending. Here is a moment, I think, that is striped back, direct, and moving in its simplicity.
I wonder if this is something particular to Victorian melodrama, which Dickens himself gently satirised for its dastardly aristocrats, fainting maidens and dashing heroes (ringing any bells?), but which obviously held an enormous emotional resonance for him. Scenes of separation and reunion, of abandonment and rescue, and of joy and sorrow resonate with us, I think, on a very simple yet profound emotional level. An innocent woman and an innocent man are apparently going to die and they offer one another comfort and fellowship in their final moments – it is an extraordinarily powerful, affecting moment. Or am I just being soppy?