Chapters 20, 21 and 22: Bloodletting
Soon after the return of Lucie and Darnay, Carton visits them wishing to
make amends with Darnay regarding his rudeness at the trial. They agree to become friends allowing Carton to visit the family on occasions.
The year is now 1789 and the Darnay’s have had two children, a daughter
named Lucie and a son who lived only a short time.
Carton still visits the family and is very fond of young Lucie. He
continues to work for Stryver who has also married.
Mr. Lorry and the rest at Tellson’s Bank are concerned at the unrest in
France and Lorry has to make numerous trips to the branch in Paris where the nobility are investing their property with the so-called secure English Bank.
On 14th July the Bastille is stormed and the Governor is beaten to death and Mme. Defarge cuts off his head. The people manage to rescue seven prisoners from the Bastille and they put the heads of seven guards on pikes. Once inside the Bastille, Defarge grabs a guard and demands to be taken to 105 North Tower where Dr. Manette was incarcerated. Defarge makes a thorough search of the cell.
A week later the Revolutionaries learn that Foulon, a hated official who had
staged his own death, is still alive and has been captured. Foulon is reputed to have said that the starving people should eat grass. Mme. Defarge leads a mob to the hotel where Foulon is being held.
There, she stuffs his mouth full of grass and hangs him from a lamppost. When he eventually dies they behead him and put his head on a pike. They also capture Foulon’s son-in-law placing his head and heart on pikes. The mob is happy and hopeful for the future.
Carton wishes to become a friend of Lucie and Darnay after their marriage.
Perhaps he realizes that he may be of use to them in the future. Darnay still regards Carton as ‘a problem of carelessness and recklessness’. In the end Darnay receives a suggestion of Carton’s good heart through Lucie’s vision of him.
This is a book of stark contrasts, especially the calm life in London
compared with the upheavals in St. Antoine.
As a result of his regular visits to the Paris office, Mr. Lorry has become
aware of the rising tide of unrest.
The violence in Paris described by Dickens is a mixture of fiction and fact.
Foulon was an actual person and was killed in the way Dickens describes. Dickens correctly depicts the mob as having no mercy, an irresistible force consuming all in its path.
Dickens has woven the storming of the Bastille into the story where he names
the Defarges as the main ringleaders. Again it is historical fact that the Revolutionaries killed and beheaded seven guards together with the Governor DeLaunay.
Defarge was responsible for the tactical aspects of the attack with Mme. Defarge, leading the women in their horrendous display of bloodletting. Dickens describes the mob as ‘a whirlpool of boiling waters, a raging sea and a howling universe of passion and contention’.