Chapters 2 and 3: Recalled to Life
The tale begins in the London/Dover mail coach making its way to the coast
one stormy November night.
Inside the coach are three passengers wrapped up warmly against the elements
so that you can barely recognize whom they are.
They do not talk to one another and travel almost as if in solitude. They are wary of each other and also of the journey for these are dangerous times, and the land is full of highwaymen who would not hesitate to stop of a coach, especially on this route.
They hear a horse approaching at a gallop and the rider is Jerry, a
messenger from Tellson’s Bank in London, looking for a Mr. Jarvis Lorry an employee of the bank who is one of the passengers.
Mr. Lorry reads the message, which states ‘Wait at Dover for Mam’selle’. Mr. Lorry tells Jerry to return the answer ‘Recalled to life’. Jerry is bewildered at the reply and gallops back to London while the coach continues on its way to Dover.
Mr. Lorry has a restless sleep reflecting upon his mission, which is to
bring someone back from the dead, after being buried for eighteen years. He wonders what this man will look like and what state he will be in.
If you are familiar with the novels of Dickens, you will be aware that they
are full of colorful characters who bring diversity and humor to the stories that they are part of.
This novel departs from this formula and most of the characters are serious
with no comical overtones, this being a historical tale, having been written around one hundred years after the events portrayed.
The power of this book is Dickens’ imagery and genius for creating atmosphere through descriptive prose. He already demonstrates this by creating a foreboding atmosphere for those traveling on the coach to Dover.
Although the three men are traveling a long distance together in a confined
space they act as through they are in solitude, wrapped up against the cold so that they have no distinguishing features. This concept of mystery and solitude become more and more important as the book
Again, the reader is given a clear indication what is going to happen, and
the statement by Mr. Lorry ‘Recalled to life’ shows that someone will be brought back from the ‘dead’.
Dickens description of the foggy, cold night provides a sense of vulnerability and anxiety.
Mr. Lorry is an important character as he provides an actual physical link between Paris and London as his employer has banks in both cities. However, his current business is at present a mystery to the reader, the clue being given is that it appears to be nothing to do with business, but resurrecting a life.